Moon Photo

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  Allie, This is you and Lonnie, isn’t it?  I love photos of people posing on the moon! While this is a pro card (special for Valentine’s Day evidently) I have a few choice examples I will follow-up with some of the photo studio ones – I have one in my office I am especially pleased with.  I continue to search for an opportunity to have my photo taken on one. I love just sorting through them on eBay and looking at all the different ones.  They could be their own book.

The French took the moon postcard into a whole different realm – naked women, even cats – all sorts of variations. I am less fond of these, preferring the unexpected and unique ones taken at fairs and seaside resorts, but some are quite wonderful. I look forward to organizing these into their own section and sharing more of them.

Dress Up

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: To my surprise this photo is tiny! I was shocked to find it is only about 2″x 3″ when it arrived in the mail. However, it is full of information and has blown up nicely. It was, of course, the cat costume that first drew me, although Little Red Riding Hood, or whoever she might be, is mighty fine as well! The photo came from Britain which means that, although this could be Guy Fawkes, it is not Halloween. Upon reflection the garden, which is lovely, and the houses beyond, are very suburban British in nature. Nothing was written on the back and in its own way it is an old but timeless image. I have it in my mind that the Brits do costumes and dress up well, but I am having trouble pin pointing what makes me think that.

I always loved costumes and dressing up, although what kid doesn’t? In my memory though, surprisingly I don’t remember dressing up as a cat. Not that I have many specific memories of what I did dress up as. Early on were store bought costumes – the late 1960’s and early ’70’s. This meant those awful hard plastic masks that were hard to breathe and see through – and yet, it was exciting to put them on. My parents weren’t the crafty types and making my own costumes had to wait until I was old enough to do it myself. I did continue to dress up for Halloween through high school and at least once that I remember in college. (I remember there being a number of times I dressed up as something out of a work of art – like a Toulouse-Lautrec can-can girl. Or, more abstractly, a Georgia O’Keeffe skull painting. What can I say? I was an art student.)

A number of years ago I did stumble across a furry hairband with shiny sequin cat ears around Halloween which I purchased. When I put it on and showed it to the cats, Otto and Zippy at the time, they had the funniest reaction – they backed away from me very slowly, never taking their eyes off me. Finally they just turned and walked away, as if they were shaking their heads, appalled. I thought later, it was as if I had told a racist joke or put on the cat equivalent of black face, and they were embarrassed for me!

Wading In – Happy Summer

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have owned this photo for a very long time. I cannot remember if I purchased it on eBay or if I bought it at a flea market. It is in bad shape  – faded and dirty, but it always makes me happy when I look at it. It is tiny, only a few inches across and mounted on a hard gray card. Kim has photoshopped more contrast into it than survives in the actual photo.

Despite her voluminous skirts she has managed to hike up to her knees; this attractive woman is wading deeply in the water, and she appears to be having a blissful time! It is a beautiful spot – the photo has no indication of where it was taken or who it is. While I imagine Maine for some reason, it could be any number of watery hot weather vacation destinations. It is easy to see why this photo was kept all these years. In our apartment it sits on a bookshelf at eye level, where it catches my eye once in a while and I consider the pleasure of it, caught on film so long ago.

Wading is a wonderful thing – I think it has virtually all the pleasure of swimming without any of the exertion or, ideally the mess. (Assuming of course you don’t get too enthused and fall in or misjudge the trajectory of an income wave.) Since you remain dressed and are in danger of getting your clothes soaked, these is a tiny frisson of excitement as well. A sense of maybe you shouldn’t be doing this, but what the hell. And the pleasure for someone who was wearing layers of cotton dress, petticoats and corset seems extraordinary. But she isn’t thinking about that – she is in that lovely cool water, her hair pinned up on the top of her head and she is smiling over her shoulder all the way to us in the future, with come hither, summer happiness.

Ebmar Pines

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I bought this photo at a flea market a long time ago. No cats to be seen and no one in a costume so this is an odd one for me. There is nothing written on the back and I have been entirely unable to find any location for Ebmar or Ebmar Pines, although it is clearly a certain kind of camp ground or picnic area we are all familiar with to some extent.

I think it is the symmetry I liked on this one – mother, sweet faced and happy on one side, why-do-I-have-to-be-here resentful daughter on the other.  Hot summer day, the flies and bees are buzzing. Don’t know what is on the table between them. Looks like a jar of lemonade and some food. It is a pretty wooded spot, although there’s something a tad frowsy and uncomfortable about the long, prickly grass, a loose bag from their picnic perhaps and a blanket spread behind them. Mom is on a camp chair and daughter is on a wooden house chair. The house chair makes me wonder if maybe they aren’t the owners of the spot, sitting out by the sign, waiting to welcome possible business. I wonder how the daughter felt about this card being kept for all time – memorializing her summer of discontent! I hope she didn’t regret it too much. Hard to be reminded of one’s adolescent obstinance.

When you are little, summer is an endless delight. As you get older, even as a teenager, it can be more complicated. Working for some kids, traveling with family for others – camp for others still. Here at Pictorama, I have frequently referred to my growing up at the shore, and the glorious string of summers of swimming and sun I remember. In my high school years I had jobs though too – cleaning houses, short order cook and later in college, waitressing. Still, summer remained special and generally delightful in my memory for all those years.

Somehow none of us are prepared for the abrupt end of that once we take a full time job. The Met supplied a liberal amount of vacation, but I rarely was able to put more than two weeks together in summer – it wasn’t allowed. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, my new gig, I am experiencing summer Fridays for the first time, half days on Friday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. To be honest, I have yet to leave really leave early on Friday, but the place does clear out. I am easing myself into it I guess, but I like it. It is a tantalizing reminder of the slower pace of summer in my childhood and somehow two and a half days seems so much better than just two.

My Grandmother’s House

Pam’s Pictorama Post: These recent photos of my grandmother’s house were sent to me and brought a parade of memories to mind. To start, it is interesting that for me it is my grandmother’s house despite being the house my mother grew up in, not only with her mother, father and younger brother, but aunt, uncle, cousin and, I believe, my great grandmother at one time. Still, my grandmother was widowed at a young age, family moved out and the upstairs rented to tenants during much of my childhood. Therefore it was always my grandmother’s house in my mind. The house, I recently learned, was built by my mother’s grandfather, an Italian immigrant to this country who I believe brought his family here when my grandmother was a small child. My mother tells me that the house was built solidly with thick beams and hand hewn wooden nails that could be seen in the attic and basement, places I have little or no memory of. My mother grew up on the ground floor and her cousin on the second floor. These photos were taken from a car by one of my cousins.

The house sits on a corner. When I was a child there was a large empty lot next to it, and between the house and the lot was an enormous cherry tree. (My mother says her grandmother had the entire lot planted with a vegetable garden and chickens. She remembers helping her with the garden and collecting the eggs.) When my sister and I were little (this is before the appearance of my brother or at least when he was a tiny tot) the extended family would gather on a late spring day and pick endless buckets of cherries. Those were cooked down into preserves which found their way into cherry pies and onto toast for the entire year. (I don’t know why, but I have no memory of just eating the cherries. Odd when I think about that now because as an adult I adore cherries, but these were for cooking.) There were other big, old trees on the property, a swamp maple, another cherry. There was also an enormous hydrangea and my grandmother threw rusty nails near the roots where the iron made the flowers bloom an icy blue.  (Although I liked the white flowers too.) There were flowering plants on the porch and around the yard. I remember my grandmother as being partial to geraniums. Easter egg hunts in her yard are my first memory of snow drops and daffodils that were just poking out of the early spring soil.

Her house looks much the same, although painted a different, tan color instead of the medium gray I remember. The house next to it, which was later built on the empty lot, distracts though and it makes the house look a bit unfamiliar at first. The memorable features of the house for me were the deep, shady porch where we spent endless hours. There were wooden rockers (very comfortable) and a few scant lawn chairs (itchy and uncomfortable) and my grandmother would have us all on display for the neighborhood. The neighbors would indeed stop by, see us grandkids and hear or share what the gossip or news might be. There was a sweating glass pitcher trimmed with metal (looked like one part glass coffee pot, I have not seen one since) which would be full of very sweet lemonade or ice tea which we drank from reusable, thick molded plastic cups. My grandmother’s house had no air conditioning so summer meant the porch. (Although I guess a window unit eventually found its way to her bedroom window.) The other great feature of the house was a small windowed side entryway which my grandmother called the sun parlor. It was a catch all space and a room I always liked, but one we never spent much time in.

Lastly, there is this photo of the garage which is hard to see here, but I have special memories of that. My mother’s father repaired outboard motors, hunted, made fishing lures and was a gifted all around mechanic and handy guy. The garage contained his work area with a cement floor, smelling distinctly of petrol, motor oil and wood. In the off seasons, his wooden fishing boat The Imp sat outside next to it. I have memories of watching him and my father scraping barnacles off the bottom, sanding and painting it, gray I believe, with perhaps a little white. It seemed huge to me, but I’m quite sure in retrospect that it was a relatively small boat. There is a side door across from where the car is. The trees and hedge were all planted later for privacy – I remember it as all being open.

garage2.jpg

Also well remembered was the kitchen which, although well proportioned, was not huge, always very sunny. It somehow expanded magically, like a clown car, as we crammed what seemed to be the ever growing family around meals at that table for many holidays, but most memorably Christmas (breakfast) and Easter (brunch). My mother’s brother, John, would be telling funny stories that made everyone roar with laughter. I wrote about this a little quite a while back in my post Ann’s Glass.

However, as families sometimes do over time ours has contracted rather than continuing to expand. Folks are living in different areas, retirement, death, divorce and rifts mean there are cousins and others I have not seen in a long time. As with most people though, they all live in my memory like I saw their forty year younger selves just the other day.

 

Seattle, Washington, August 20, 1942

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Pams-Pictorama.com collection

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The post office delivered yesterday and we at Pictorama are back on board writing about these two wonderful photo album pages purchased recently. Kim and I are often opining about how sad it is to see albums being broken up – single photos torn out and sold, or even pages like these taken from an album. Still, I purchased these pages while weighing whether or not to purchase an entire album of photos from someone else. They were asking a sizable amount and without being able to see the full album online it seemed dubious and in the end I did not bid – so perhaps selling them whole is indeed a problem. Still, these beauties beg the question of what the full album looked like – was it all illustrated like this? Sad to think of the pages scattered and the family story never coming back together to be told again.

The dated page has the better photos of the two in my opinion. I love the one of the three women all holding cats. Their Seattle yard is very lush – a leafy paradise really, with the sun pouring in behind them. The cats appear to be wriggling to varying degrees in their photo pose holds here. Big white kitty resembles the platinum blonde holding him or her, but the woman with the hat and gloves is my favorite – so proper yet cat friendly. (That dark outfit was covered in white hair when they were done.) Above that photo is sort of a candid one of a group of romping cats and kittens, also tucked away among more greenery. Same white kitty, but this time holding court among the kits it seems – perhaps the mom cat I now think? Looks like an adorable group kicking capering around and enjoying themselves. In the final photo on this page, white kitty continues to be the focus convincing me she is Mom, this time with just two kits. The white paint illustrations are good – swiped poses perhaps? Great animated tummy pose – Cookie assumes this one frequently.

The second page has Watkins’ Home for Strays on the sign next to this hobo-come-Puss ‘n Boots kitty drawing, complete with bindle tossed over his shoulder, fluffy tailed. There’s something a tad wonky about the direction of one of the booted paw feet, but it is a spirited and ambitious illustration. Sadly, there is a photo missing from the lower left of this page – only the black corner holders remain indicating where the bottom of that photo was held. The prize on this page is white kitty and a black cat atop a bird cage. I believe there is a bird in the cage (bottom left – unfortunate birdie which must have been very stressed indeed) and these two pusses are intensely interested. The photo at the top shows the three matching kittens, one sporting a bow this time. It is a poor photo, but shows off these fine youngster kitties for one more view.

The Watkins documented themselves in a highly decorative fashion as a very cat friendly family. Therefore ultimately, where better for these stray pages to find a home than my cat photo collection?

Coffee

Pam’s Pictorama: This weekend I am waiting for the US Post Office to catch up with my photo acquisitions, and so today I am heading down one of those personal tributaries. Earlier this week I had a number of reasons to contemplate my deep attachment to coffee. The first occurred when I accidentally left my morning coffee at the deli, several blocks from my new midtown, high-rise office perch. It was one of those (many) chilly wet days we had early this week and the idea of retracing my steps was dispiriting – but so was the loss of treasured coffee. I resentfully made due with a cup from the dreaded Keurig (don’t mind it for a strong cup of tea, but not a fan for coffee) and slunk, sadly back to my office.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center offices are equipped a large kitchen right off the reception area. It has two refrigerators, toaster ovens, microwave, coffee machines, soda and snack machines and – most surprising of all – a dishwasher which they run nightly. Really, I could cook a full dinner for a family with what they have as a staff kitchen. (And, not surprisingly, jazz music plays in the public space all day which means you sometimes find yourself passing on the way to a meeting and stopping to listen to an especially fine Louis Armstrong moment as happened the other day, making me late for a meeting. However it is the kind of place where people are willing to accept that.) An office manager makes coffee for two large carafes daily, but my timing is always off and it goes fast. I arrive too early and therefore with outside coffee in hand. On this particular day the wait seemed too long.

Meanwhile, I read several articles about cold brew this week – perhaps not coincidental as we are heading into hot weather and the ever-calculating media is ready to turn our attention to purchasing cold drinks. I considered cold brew briefly a month or so ago when Fresh Direct accidentally delivered a couple of cans of cold brew coffee to us and I liked them enough to consider adding some to our order – until I saw the price (ouch!!!) and decided I would stick with my cheaper methods of coffee consumption.

I have experimented with several methods of making coffee over time – electric perculators and machines, French presses, expresso devices and paper filters – tried ’em all. In the end I returned to the method I grew up with and which now seems to be pretty much sneered at, the old fashioned perculating stovetop pot of my childhood. (I had a young colleague at the Met who found the concept downright exotic in a steam punk sort of way which made me feel very old.) Frankly, it fills me with great pleasure to smell and hear a pot of coffee perking on the stove in the morning. My parents have long switched to a complicated machine (which I do battle with each time I spend the night at their house), but it brings me back to early mornings in childhood and evokes a sense of comfort and pleasure that few things do.

I remember when I started drinking coffee in high school. I was rehearsing late for a school play and someone brought me a cup with milk and sugar and I was immediately hooked. Oh nectar of the gods, where have you been? I did away with the sugar pretty quickly and stuck with the milk ever since. Shortly after, when I began drinking it at home my father would say, ever single morning, “You’re too young to drink coffee.” (He continued to say it well into my twenties.) And I have a dim memory of my grandmother said that it would give you black knees when I was kid – a statement that in retrospect mystifies me even more now. (She also would say that chewing gum was made of giraffe hooves – even odder.) My sister Loren was less partial to coffee and I have no memory of this exchange or a similar one between her and my father.

During my brief stint of cooking professionally one of the older chefs who did a lot of catering explained why much coffee produced in those giant catering urns is so awful. It seems that if you don’t unscrew it entirely and take the urn fully apart to clean it, which is an arduous procedure, over time the build up creates an unacceptably acid taste in the coffee. Most people are lazy and just wash out what is easily visible. I never worked enough catering to test this explanation, but I have had a lot of bad urn-made coffee which makes me consider it anew each time.

I recognize that I am both less effective and less pleasant when under-caffeinated in the morning (although equally less fun when over-caffeinated later in the day – it is a balancing act many of us know) and therefore these days I do not generally risk leaving the house without initial coffee consumption. It is made with the above method and there is generally some in heavy glass carafes in the fridge for cold consumption as well. Therefore, my work cup of coffee tends to sort of be the icing on the cake and the reward for having gotten to work.

The new job required figuring out where my all important morning coffee would be acquired. Several places that were adequate for food acquisition were immediately eliminated for sub-par coffee. The issue with the purveyor of current favor is a tendency to set the purchased coffee down in an odd spot, away from the food I am buying, in a spot where I am likely to forget it. (I will add that I was fascinated to discover that the man who makes the coffee at this establishment has such a lovely singing voice that he is periodically pulled away from coffee making to sing a rather memorable Happy Birthday to seated clients on request. Clearly not a coincidence that he works with Carnegie Hall beckoning across the street.)

At home my preference is to drink my coffee from one of two substantial Starbucks labeled mugs that were given to me by a software vendor I worked with at the Met – or another wonderful, enormous Felix mug given to me a year ago by Mary Allen and Morgan Bakerman, my much missed colleagues at the Met. I was deeply fond of an equally large mug that Nickelodeon mag had given Kim years ago which sadly got broken. It is mostly about quantity for me – I prefer fewer trips to the pot. However, I also favor the mug shown here above was given to me many years ago by another former colleague, Bernie McCormack, many years ago, when returning from a work junket to Buffalo. Clearly those work with me understand my deep love of the stuff.

Felix mug

Flying to the Moon

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I guess I am a sucker for kitten balloon photos. You may remember an earlier, similar card in my post Flying Dutch Kitties, which is in all fairness, a better photograph. It was the moon that grabbed me in this one – I do love a good man in the moon. (I am, after all, married to Kim Deitch. His man in the moon images are, of course, the best and one of the many sterling qualities I married him for.) This one looks full of mischief to me. I can remember being a little kid and looking hard at the moon and being fairly sure I could put together the face of the man there.

This appears to be an American made card, sent from Chicago in 1912, but the specific date is obscured. It was sent to Austria however, and there is a long note, penned in tiny German I have no hope of translating. Landor, the maker of the card, seems to have been partial to cat photo postcards, made at the turn of the century, but I cannot find the history of the company online.

Unlike the masterfully constructed set in Flying Dutch Kitties, this one is deceptively simple. As if you could have easily taken this photo at home with a couple of kittens, string and tissue paper. For me, these are the photo equivalents of how I felt about the Little Rascals when I was a kid. You would look at those various stitched together vehicles, clubhouses and staged shows and the construction seemed like it should only be just within your reach – which of course, wasn’t true at all. Now I frankly marvel at the thoughtful construction and technology of them.

As for me, I have failed to record Cookie and Blackie doing any of their “tricks” for the camera – hind leg standing and boxing; Cookie giving Kim high fives; or her skill in moving a small rocking chair she is partial to. Candid photos of orchid eating or displayed on Kim’s desk is about the best I can do with these two. Too bad – I could be a contender for the Queen of the Cat Video on Youtube if only I was a little bit faster with the camera.

Cookie & Blackie 2015

Cookie & Blackie in an undated photo