Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wasted Time

Do not think it wasted time to submit yourself to any influence that will bring upon you any noble feeling. — John James Ruskin

The Kansas weather this past week has been overcast. Gloomy weather gives one pause. There is time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life -- to realize that walking the paths of nature with my two dogs is not a wasted moment but a noble task.

The red and gold of autumn

John Ruskin (February 8, 1819 – January 20, 1900) was the leading English art critic of Victorian England, also an art patron, painter, writer, philosopher and philanthropist, and finally social thinker.

In 1884, he gave a series of two lectures to the London Institution entitled, The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth-Century, an anecdotal account of the effects of industrialization on weather. In forty years of observation, from 1831 to 1871, Ruskin concluded, storm clouds were gradually gathering and staying over the skies of Europe.

In those old days, when weather was fine, it was luxuriously fine; when it was bad—it was often abominably bad, but it had its fit of temper and was done with it—it didn’t sulk for three months without letting you see the sun,—nor send you one cyclone inside out, every Saturday afternoon, and another outside in, every Monday morning.

In everything that Ruskin did and wrote about, he emphasized the relationship between nature, art, and society. Family remained for him the core unit around which society is developed.

John Ruskin was a contemporary of Scottish-American naturalist and environmentalist, John Muir. Ruskin’s writings and works influenced both William Morris and Gustav Stickley, and the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early twentieth century.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Celebrate Art

“Buy what you love” is a common piece of advice in the art world.

I love Paris even when it rains

One never knows if a budding artist will one day become celebrated - a Van Gogh or Picasso, an Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock. Are you familiar with artists the likes of Diane Arbus and Ida Applebroog, Nuno de Campos and Dan Christensen. They too are well known in the art circles, but they may not yet be household names. And if you are lucky enough to own an image by one of these artists, someday your children may be rich. But for now, enjoy.

Art takes away to new places

Art is perhaps more of a passion than a desire for perfection. We are passionate about the people we know, the places we have been, and the images that excite our minds. So too, the art that we display should reflect those places and images. They recall to mind pleasant reveries.

By celebrating art, we celebrate life.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Good design follows certain rules, but sometimes rules need to be broken. Life should be whimsical, casual, comfortable, and fun.

Imagine Dr. Seuss writing The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. He is comfortable seated on the couch with a quill feather pen and a brandy snifter, laughing outloud at a ridiculous thought. Dr. Seuss got the idea for the story while riding on a New York subway behind a man who was wearing a hat. A bit stuffy and formal, Dr. Seuss thought, what would happen if he would take off his hat and throw it out the subway window.

At Traditions, we too like to have a little fun.

Century curved sofa, Traditions Furniture

Friday, September 5, 2014


Just a random thought. 

a view of Mt. Pilot, North Carolina

Today, I am thinking about Pointillism, a technique of painting in small, distinct dots of pure color, so as to apply a pattern and form a larger image. The technique was developed in 1886 by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, as a new direction from Impressionism. Vincent Van Gogh adopted the technique, then adapted it by using short brush strokes (lines) instead of points. 

On the way to Mt. Pilot, North Carolina

If we think about digital design, there is a correlation. Pointillism relies on the ability of the eye and mind to blend points of color into a complete image; much like the digital camera takes solitary pixels and creates an image. 

self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh from Wikipedia

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Virgo by Sid Dickens
Ergo, said Vergil 

Who grows the crops 

Or moves the stars 
Across the starry skies
Oh Maecenas, you need not worry 

He also thought 

To marry the pruned elm tree 
With the wild green vine, 
Thankfully, gave us wine 

He that cares what oxen need 

Insures new seed each year 
And gave us time enough 
To enjoy our simple lives 

Oh Maecenas, worry not
Just pray to God 

While you watch the cattle 
And nod your head in sleep

Under a sturdy oak tree
For, he above tends the bees
So, too He gave us honey
To sweeten our lives a bit

O bright September morning light, 
This thought
Comes to me 
When Virgo rises in the sky 

Ergo, said Vergil
In Autumn 

When His work is done
There's time to have some fun

 Loosely based on Vergil's Georgics, The Introduction. 

Quid faciat laetas segetes,
quo sidere terram vertere,
ulmisque adiungere vitis conveniat
quae cura boum,
qui cultus habendo sit pecori,
apibus quanta experientia parcis,
hinc canere incipiam.
Vos, o clarissima mundi lumina,
labentem caelo quae ducitis annum,

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dream Voyager

“[A] dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist


I dream of voyages to distant places. I dream of what could be, for it is left to the dreamers to make a better world. Why not? For as John Lennon said, "Reality leaves a lot to the imagination."

And what does one get?

The anticipation of what is to come.

The joy of being in the moment.

Waiting for the moment
And Peace in a sea of troubles


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why is it called a Chesterfield Sofa

If you were born in the forties, then you probably associate the name Chesterfield with a cigarette. If you are British, then you think of a leather sofa. 

Not any sofa, but one that is deep, buttoned backed with arms and back of the same height, and typically leather. In proper British speech, the name "Chesterfield" is only applied to this sofa. 

If you were King George the Third, then you would associate the name Chesterfield with Lord Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, who is given credit for naming the sofa, having first commissioned the tufted leather sofa in the early 1700s.

Stickley London sofa

Stickley has adapted this idea with their own novel London sofa, incorporating the button arched back and the classically sloped English arm.

Stickley London leather sofa

Add a pitched slope to the back and you make for a perfectly comfortable seat. Now bring the tea at four and serve brandy after dinner.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leo is the lion in the Zodiac

One is attracted to a Leo's zest for life. 

Leo, Sid Dickens memory tile

Leos can lift up one's spirits and provide encouragement when times are tough. Leos are warm spirited. They may come on strong, but they are social butterflies, not because they want to be but because people gravitate to and surround the Leo. 

He or she provides strength and encouragement.

I have to imagine that Leos don't like being on the bottom. Leos, after all, are caught up in themselves, born leaders, and self-centered. In a crowd, they stand out. 

A Leo is a friend indeed when you need one. Someone whose got your back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Life moves at a slower pace in Upstate New York.

Lake Skaneateles, New York

It is August and the days are long, the nights are cool and bright. During the days, one gets out in the sunshine and sits by the lake or takes an excursion on a boat. At night, that is a different.

What better time than to picnic by the lake under the stars and enjoy the world class music of the Skaneateles Festival? It is going on now, four weeks of glorious music through the end of the month from Wednesday through Saturday. Bring a chair or a blanket and sit on the lawn before an historic three story colonial revival home located on Lake Skaneateles, one of the beautiful Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. Have a great time. 

See the schedule.

Lake side at Skaneateles

In nearby Manlius, New York, Nichols & Stone dining room tables and chairs continue to be manufactured by Stickley, keeping a tradition of fine craftsmanship that began in 1852 with the formation of Nichols & Stone, the oldest furniture making company in America. 

Nichols & Stone

The company's products reflect generations of New England craftsmen working to perfect their techniques of construction. The patina of the solid birch and maple woods are unmistakably Nichols & Stone. You need only look for the Nichols & Stone shield burned into each piece to know that you have chosen the very best, made by the oldest furniture name in America.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Welcome to Las Vegas

We are off to Las Vegas next week, destination - the World Market Center and the Venetian. The goal - finding time to relax and finding something new.

Venetian Hotel

The five-million-square-foot World Market Center in Las Vegas is located on Grand Central Parkway between the Las Vegas Strip and the historic downtown. The Venetian is on the Las Vegas Strip on the old location of the Sands Hotel where the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin would get together for fun in the sun.

World Market Center, Las Vegas

To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, it is Las Vegas, where the lights never go out.  People wandering the streets, some looking for action and some just looking. And in the casinos, at the tables and slots, gamblers test their luck. At any time of day or night, there is madness in any direction.

There is a universal sense that you can’t lose. No matter what one is doing, tonight you are going home a winner. 

Stressless Vegas recliner

The Stressless Vegas recliner is designed for comfort. You don’t need to gamble here. With soft contours and plush cushioning, the Vegas recliner is a winner any way you sit. Using the Stressless patented Glide® and Plus® systems, the Vegas responds to the slightest movement of your back, neck or legs. With a full 360° swivel feature and adjustable headrest, the Vegas Stressless recliner delivers unparalleled comfort.

Stressless Vegas recliner


Thursday, July 17, 2014

From Benjamin Brester to John D. Rockefeller to Gustav Stickley

It might be a stretch, you say, but let us reach out and connect Gustav Stickley with Benjamin Brewster, who made his mark in life as a trustee of Standard Oil Company, the brain child of John D. Rockefeller.

Brewster Inn, Lake Cazenovia

Benjamin Brewster was one of the original trustees of Standard Oil. He was born in 1828 in Norwich, Connecticut to Patrick Brewster (fourth great-grandson of Mayflower Pilgrim William Brewster) and Catharine Fanny Roath. In 1849 he went west with the California Gold Rush, establishing a general mercantile store in San Francisco. His partner was Oliver Burr Jennings. They were wildly successful. Jennings would later married the sister of William Rockefeller’s wife and as we all know, it is not what you know but who you know. William was younger brother and partner to John D. Rockefeller who began Standard Oil. Money begets money. Brewster, now rich became richer. 

In 1890 Brewster built a summer home in Cazenovia, New York, which he named "Scrooby" after the English manor house in Nottinghamshire, England where his ancestor William Brewster lived before departing on the Mayflower. 

Lake Cazenovia

Brewster's home on the shores of Lake Cazenovia now houses the Brewster Inn. 

Brewster Inn Restaurant

Benjamin Brewster died at his home in Cazenovia in 1897 at the age of 69. His pallbearers included John D. Rockefeller. Benjamin and his wife Fanny had six children, one of whom, Mary Dows Brewster Jennings, lived until 1964.

What does this have to do with Gustav Stickley? 

Little, for Gustav Stickley was just then, in 1897, returning from a trip to Europe where he became acquainted with English humanist, designer, and social critic and founder of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. William Morris. Stickley would go on to found American Arts and Crafts Movement and develop designs that would later be known as Mission Furniture. Gustav would go on to build a furniture factory in nearby Syracuse which today continues to make the hallmark Mission furniture in Manlius, New York, a short drive from the Brewster Inn. 

Lake Cazenovia, New York

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dog Days of Summer

Only "Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun." wrote Noel Coward. "Because," Noel continued, "the sun is far too sultry and one must avoid its ultry-violet rays." Don't fret, instead, come to Traditions' air-conditioned Annual Art & Accessory Sale and save 20% off all art and accessories (sorry, Sid Dickens memory tiles and a few other items excluded.)

There is a hug selection of artwork, including man's favorite friend.

You don't need to dress up. But wear a straw hat and long sleeves to protect yourself from the sun's rays.

Everyone who is anybody comes to the Art Sale. It is a chance to find that inspiring piece of art.

It is not hard to find us.

In Overland Park, we are located in the historic  Strang Carbarn, just 2 blocks wet of Metcalf on 79th street.

In Wichita, at Douglas and Hillside in College Hill.

We will be waiting for you.

Summertime in Skaneateles

Welcome to Skaneateles, upstate New York, and part of the Finger Lakes. The winter snows are gone. Spring has brought forth an abundance of flowers and colors. Summer has arrived! 

If you are coming from nearby Manlius, home of Stickley Furniture, be sure to visit Skaneateles (pronounced "skiny-at-a-lis"), book a room at one of the many cozy inns or just visit for the day and dine on the lake. 

Experience the beauty of Skaneateles from a park bench. Or be brave like the locals and dip your toes in the cool clear blue water.

Averaging less than a mile wide and stretching 16 miles in length, Skaneateles (from the Iroquois for "long lake") reaches across three counties: Onandaga, Cayuga and Cortland.

At home on lake Skaneateles with the Marina sofa by Stickley.

Marina sofa by Stickley

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Things you should know about the Chrysler Building

[Listen to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue as you read the blog.]

Loved by all New Yorkers and considered by contemporary architects to be one of the finest buildings in New York City - the Chrysler Building.

1. The Chrysler Building was never owned by the Chrysler Corporation.

Chrysler Building, NYC

Instead, it was owned by Walter Chrysler who leased it to the Chrysler Corporation as its headquarters from 1930 until 1950.

2. For eleven months it was the world's tallest building at 1,046 feet. Construction workers pushed the 185 foot spire through the roof in 90 minutes to create the record. In 1931, the Chrysler Building's height was surpassed by the Empire State Building at 1,250 feet.

3. The metal clad spire tops 77 brick floors on a steel frame. It is still the world's tallest brick building.

4. Despite a torrid pace of four floors a week, no workers died during its construction, unlike the Empire State Building, where five workers died.

5. The iconic eagle gargoyles were modeled after Chrysler Plymouth hood ornaments.

Eagle gargoyle Chrysler Building

6.  The Chrysler Building is located at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, which accesses Grand Central Station.

7. The building was built at a cost of 15 million dollars.

8. It was sold in 1953 and has gone through a series of ownership and management changes.

9. A private college, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, owns the land and the building. In case you wondered, the college, better known as Cooper Union, is located in Cooper Square in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City,

Top of the Chrysler Building

10.  The building's Art Deco style, unique in New York City, is one reason why the building was place on the National Historic Register in 1976. The spire which lights NYC at night is a shining beacon for all New Yorkers to see.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Family Vacations

June brings to mind family vacations. A trip to the mountains, the lake, or the ocean with the people you love the most.  Family vacations should be stressless. They are not.

Stressless vacations
We are God's creatures used to having our own space and wanting, like Greta Garbo, to be alone in a Stressless recliner with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Vacations are marred with uncertain moments - reacquainting yourself with parents, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces, and the occasional girl or boyfriend brought along. Who is this stranger?  Is he or she the real one? And what do they think of this odd lot we call family?

When time began
God made a family
As only God can,

In the mountains

Now throw too many people into too small a space. There are not enough bathrooms to go around.  So we fidget. Meanwhile, do we talk politics or religion?  Does so and so have a bigger house or a better job? Are there old scores to settle? Thank goodness for the times when everyone is out of the house and again, for the moment, you have time to yourself.

At the ocean

At the end of the day after the evening meal, the family gathers in the living room to tell tales or play games. One of our favorites games is "Choose this or that".

Suppose you had to choose only one of two things you dearly love, for all time.

Would it be vacations at the ocean or in the mountains? Other suggestions include chocolate or vanilla, television or computers, chairs or sofas, cars or trucks, chicken or steak, wine or beer, Angelina Jolie or Marilyn Monroe.

You get the idea, now make up your own pairings. That is the fun of it.

On the Rocky Mountain National Park Trail Ridge Road

Monday, June 2, 2014

Clouds are beautiful.

Clouds one, the coast of north Africa

Lucy Van Pelt
: Clouds are beautiful. They look like big balls of cotton. I could just lie here in the grass all day and watch them drift by. With imagination you can see lots of things. What do you you see, Linus?

Clouds two, the Eye of God

Linus Van Pelt: Well, those clouds up there look to me look like a Caribbean island, those a painting by Thomas Eakins, and those over there the Apostle Paul viewing the stoning of Stephan.

Cloud three, heavenly comfort

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

Who will you remember?

Elmer Van Huss, 543 Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment

Memorial Day is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May, a day to remember the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. Elmer Van Huss is one.

He enlisted on the 23rd of June 1942 when he was almost 41 years of age. He was assigned to the 543rd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, part of the 3rd Engineer Special Brigade, commanded by David Ayres Depue Ogden. The 3rd ESB landed on New Guinea on February 24, 1944; Biak Island on September 30; and the Philippine Islands on July 24, 1945. It returned to the United States on December 20, 1945.

Elmer Van Huss is buried in Latham Cemetery in Butler County, Kansas. He is my wife's great uncle.

There are others. They touch every family in America. Will you remember them?

Arlington Cemetery

Each year volunteers put flags and flowers on many graves.