Restoration Project – Kling Desk

No progress or updates on the Singer treadle sewing machine. Instead, I’ve flipped the switch a bit and present to you my recently finished project, a solid mahogany Kling desk. I fought my instincts to refinish in the original dark color stain and took direction from my daughter Kate. Since the desk is for her use, and not for resale, it made sense to tailor to her taste. The picture doesn’t do justice to how well it turned out. “Out of the mouth of babes…”
I dropped the ball a bit as I did not take a “before” picture. About the same time we found the treadle machine my daughter saw a 30’s period desk with a glass top. However, it was in poor shape and had some deep scratches and gouges so I decided to pass. A few weeks ago I discovered this desk at our local Goodwill, hidden under the shelves with junk piled on top of it. It was dark and had some surface finish damage, but it looked well made.
I always open the drawers to look for some kind of I.D. and to check for indications of good workmanship. This one had dovetail joints, and the drawers closed flush. The piece also had some nice raised detail. I found a round brass plate inside the center drawer, indicating that the desk was made by Kling Furniture. The round plate dates the desk to around 1936-1945. A rectangular plate would date a Kling piece between 1946-1962.
My instructions were to paint the desk white, except for the top, which I planned to lightly sand to remove the water damage, and stain to match the original dark finish. Kate removed the hardware, then cleaned and masked the drawers and top to prepare for painting. I used a light coat of primer, then two coats of carefully applied antique white paint. I hand sanded the top then wiped with oil-based Minwax stain. It turned out poorly, so I pulled out my sander and carefully sanded the top down to the bare wood and removed all marks, and switched to a fine grit to get a smooth surface.
I brushed on a pre-stain sealer, let it penetrate for a few minutes, then wiped off the excess. I followed that with oil-based Minwax Red Mahogany stain which I also brushed on and wiped off with a clean cloth. Allowing it to dry for a couple of days, I sealed the finish with three coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax. After buffing with a clean cloth the end result was a beautiful uniform color and shine. Eighty years of tarnish were removed from the original solid brass hardware using a couple of applications of Brasso, a soft cloth, and a soft tooth brush while rinsing off the brass cleaner. Once returned to their original luster and mounted back on the drawers, the transformation was complete.


Liebster Award

I’m honored that someone thought enough of my blog to nominate me for a Liebster Award. Thanks to Lindsey,, and congratulations on your own Liebster nominations. I’ll try to do this justice. Once completed, I think I’ll have this post serve double duty as my About page since it contains a good amount of personal info and insight into what motivates me to write.

Here are the official rules, at least what I’ve been able to cull from Google:

The Official Rules of the Liebster Award

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  1. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  1. Found this twist which I’ll include as optional. Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
  1. Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  1. Nominate 5 or more blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  1. List these rules in your post, and change them to suit your wicked motives. Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  1. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post.

Don’t forget to create 10 questions, give or take, for them to answer. Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they’ll know what to do.

Some random facts about me:

* I’m originally from a small city bordering the Bronx, famous for basketball and several A-list celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Dick Clark and Art Carney. It also has the infamous distinction of being featured in the book, Savage Inequalities, a study of the disparities in education between schools of different classes and races. I’m a product of that school system.

*I was bullied as a child and think it contributed to the chip on my shoulder and temper triggers that I can’t always control or understand. I don’t subscribe to the theory that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. There’s a difference between uncontrollable circumstances and intentional acts of cruelty. There’s no place in the world for bullying. For all the bullies in the world, including some of our world leaders, to paraphrase Laura Nyro, I know you swear there ain’t no heaven, but you better pray there ain’t no hell.

*I’m a natural righty who does several things left-handed such as shoot a basketball, play hockey and certain tasks that require fine dexterity. I like to believe that this right-brained lefty dominance is evidence of my creative side. My daughter and granddaughter are both crazy lefties.

*On April 8th, 1969 I was home sick from school and watched my first major league baseball game, New York Mets vs. the expansion Montreal Expos, which of course was won by the Expos 11-10 as the Mets fell short with 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth. That team would go on to win the World Series and is still affectionately remembered as the Miracle Mets. I thought I was a lucky charm. Little did I know that I would see only one more championship, in 1986, and many more losing and heart-breaking seasons.

*I am possibly the World’s Slowest Human. When I played softball it looked like I was moonwalking to 1st base. My one personal wish is to run as fast as Usain Bolt for just one day. Side note: Poison nickname was bestowed upon me by teammate on company softball team. I was Big Poison and he was Little Poison, paying homage to brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates nearly a hundred years ago. My other nickname, poking fun at my lack of speed, was Roberto Cemente.

****I am not going to bore you any further with random facts about me…

On to the answers to Lindsey’s questions:

  1. How do you get ideas or inspiration for your blog? Ideas are everywhere, and my interests are diverse. The subjects of my posts are all over the place, to the point where the categories I created make no sense. This will come across as ingratiating, but I get inspiration from interaction with fellow bloggers, more so than from reading the classics. I’ll expand on that more in a separate post, but I’ve learned a lot in a few short months.
  1. What’s a funny story you will never forget? Personally experienced or not. I’m often sarcastic and amused by the absurdity of life. While I like to laugh to keep from crying, I’m hard pressed to recount one funny story. Is that strange?
  1. Do you sneak candy/food into the movie theater or buy it? Be honest. I’m definitely more of the sneak in food and drink type, but that has become more difficult at theaters and stadiums, especially with the security concerns. We go to the second-run movie houses. Our local favorite is the Edmund Town Hall Theater in Newtown, CT. It’s inside of the historic town hall building, has a great atmosphere, including a balcony, and if the $2.00 price tag is too high, there are free movie nights sponsored by local businesses. The goodies at the little concession stand are reasonably priced, so no need to sneak.
  1. What was your dream career as a child, and what is it now? I wanted to be a superhero, first Thing from the Fantastic Four and later Spider-Man. I was genuinely upset when I realized I would never be made of stone, and couldn’t shoot webs and swing from buildings. I do think I got some of my smart-ass attitude from reading those golden age Marvel comics. Later, that dream became to pitch for the Mets like my boyhood hero, Tom Seaver. Sadly, growing up too often includes giving up your dreams one at a time. My dream career right now? Maybe working a small farm with family. We all seem well suited to it and as long as the farm is not too far from civilization, preferably close to the shore, and we have some modest modern comforts, that sounds right for this point in my life. Check that, too much work. How about running a little book store/café with some live music? One day I’ll figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
  1. If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? I live to eat, and love so many different cuisines. One meal? It would need to have some complexity. Favorites like NYC or New Haven pizza, pasta dishes, a perfectly cooked porterhouse, even lobster might get old if I had to eat them for every meal. I was thinking Indian, maybe my wife’s pulao…with beef. The perfect texture of the rice, the fragrant spices, and the tender beef…but, then my mind wanders to one of her amazing soups, Turkey Orzo Soup! That’s it! Is it pasta? Is it rice? Is it soup? Is it stew? I’m a lucky man; I don’t have to choose just one.
  1. What’s your biggest pet peeve? I would love to have a pet peeve. It would be furry, kind of like a sheep or poodle, and it would vibrate. It wouldn’t eat much and would have the gentle temperament of a manatee. My pet peeve is my short temper and lack of patience, especially when I get upset over petty stuff.
  1. If you had the chance to go back in time and tell yourself one thing, would you? If so, what would it be? Most of us would like the chance to do at least one thing differently. This might seem a bit backward, or shallow, but I’d tell myself to go hard for the cash, but keep your eye on the prize. It’s not about accumulating trophies, but gaining a measure of security and freedom. Don’t think you’re smarter, or more clever, or creative, or have more integrity than everyone else. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference; I’ve always been a half-step behind the beat.
  1. What’s your favorite recipe either you or someone you know makes? My grandma’s carrot cake recipe is the only one I know by heart. Not too long ago I tried a recipe I saw on local PBS station for a pasta sauce that uses tuna, capers and anchovies. I substituted regular pasta for whole wheat pasta, but I thought it was pretty good. In my daughter Kate’s words, “You want to be Frankie so bad.” Frankie has his own blog and here’s the link to the site and recipe:
  1. What’s something you struggle with when it comes to blogging which you can give advice to new bloggers? I want my blog to be an honest view into my heart and mind. I usually agonize over each post, wanting it to be perfect and bullshit free. Since this is impossible, I am overly critical and not very prolific. I feel like my blog should have a more consistent theme and feel, but my interests are eclectic, so I guess it is an approximate representation of who I am. Advice? Don’t get too hung up on blogging strategies and trying to expand your followers. Develop your unique voice and just write. What I like about a blog is that it makes me feel obligated to write. Reach out to your fellow bloggers. I’ve found them to be kind and supportive. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. My advice to the author of Mind the Dog Writing Blog, “Spend less time worrying about looking fat in the dress and just walk like Marilyn.”

10. What’s your favorite thing to do in your down time? Go for a walk, especially by the shore, or along the streets of a city or small town with a sense of history and character. Watch my beloved New York Mets and Giants. Do some yard work or putter around the house while I listen to sports radio or music. Sit quietly with a good cup of coffee.

Here are the nominees:

My daughter Kate’s blog. She is busy with schoolwork and won’t participate, at least not right now, but I have to nominate her.

Arouge’s site has a cool retro vibe. Often obscure and mysterious to the casual reader, I always get where she’s coming from. A seeker of truth.

From my good buddy Julia, I mean Amanda, Mind the Dog Writing Blog is a must read to expand your vocabulary and share your dreams.

Nick Lambert is barely under the followers threshold to qualify, but I’m glad I have the opportunity to promote his blog. It is everything that my blog is not, focused and with a consistent theme. There are many great reviews, especially if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.

I just recently stumbled upon Kara’s breath of fresh air, and her unique take on motherhood and life.

Show some love and support for your fellow writers by visiting their sites and offering your comments.

Finally, here are my questions for the nominees:

While I prepared questions with the nominees in mind, I encourage, and would greatly appreciate,  guidance and feedback from the more well established bloggers.

  1. What generation were you born into? Which one do you most identify with?
  2. Which writers have influenced you? What genre are you most comfortable with? (Poetry, short stories, non-fiction?)
  3. Who would write and perform your theme song? Why?
  4. Have you ever sold any of your work?
  5. Name the accomplishment or act of kindness you are most proud of. What do you feel guilty about?
  6. What’s your favorite sport? What sport are you best at?
  7. Do you think all politicians are corrupt? What’s your take on Hillary and Trump being the finest the U.S. has to offer for President? Will you, or would you vote 3rd party? Do you think most Americans are out of touch with the rest of the world?
  8. Do you have a strategy for promoting and growing your blog followers? Do you link every post to social media? What type of blog most interests you?
  9. Do you usually comment on posts that you like? How important to you is direct interaction with fellow artists and bloggers?
  10. Do you sometimes post something you know is not up to your standards because you feel the need to keep your blog active, and to maximize your SEO? Does linking back to an earlier post accomplish the same thing?
  11. Are you a better baker or cook?

And now, I’m done…or I will be done once I notify the nominees. I apologize for turning this thing into such a bear.

Blind Faith and Stick Figure Jesus

Sketch courtesy

This is not a review or retrospective of the album released in 1969 by the band of the same name led by Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. I found the hand drawn representation of the original controversial album cover by happenstance while doing a Google search of blind faith. The website is interesting and included a link to share, so please visit. I think the sketch dovetails nicely with the drawing featured with my poem.

I was born into the Catholic church, was baptized, received my first holy communion, and later the sacrament of confirmation. Like many children who attend public school, once a week I was excused early to attend religious instruction. There I committed to memory the tenets of the church along with the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and the Apostle’s Creed. The language is elevated and beautiful, designed to make us feel safe and loved, and to remind us that we are all sinners.

Shortly after confirmation, I came to realize that the choice to continue my religious education and to attend church was my own. I soon decided that whiffle ball and street football were more interesting pursuits than studying scripture. However, a question raised by a young layperson teacher, who was studying to enter the priesthood, has stuck with me.

“Why did Christ sacrifice himself on the cross for mankind?”

This one was easy, and several kids answered at once, “To open the gates of heaven.”

He smiled, then asked, “What does that mean? Did Jesus come with a key and actually unlock and swing open some huge gate in the clouds?”

What was this? Were we actually allowed to ask questions about our faith and all of the pat phrases repeated to us over and over? At the same time, it was a challenge to look beyond the words to understand the meaning. This was going to be complicated. It is so much simpler to get on your knees, fold your hands and recite what you’ve been taught, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

Like any other artistic trait, some people draw better than others. For most of us, our drawing skills haven’t progressed beyond what we learned in grade school. Ask the average adult to sketch a landscape and the result would be hard to distinguish from the efforts of a third-grader. However, the novice can improve their drawing skills, if not intrinsic artistic ability, through instruction and practice. The same is true of one’s understanding of religion and scriptures through guidance and study.

This similarity is the focus of my subject in Stick Figure Jesus. The young woman becomes five-years-old at her desk while exercising her underdeveloped artistic skills to draw a simple representation of Jesus on the cross, or when she kneels to recite the prayers from her childhood. For the innocent five year old girl, the young woman, and her own children, perhaps this is enough. The speaker in the poem is demanding more.

Art is large, the techniques of drawing are small. Spirituality is large, religion is small. My intention is not to measure the relative spiritual benefits of confession and penance, fasting and dietary restrictions, zazen, or even sun worship as a path to enlightenment, but to show through the image of the child turned woman how little her relationship to God has evolved.

Paris Redux – Part II

What might not have been apparent from my earlier post is that Paris is more than just beautiful architecture. There are people as well, and after photographing most of the tourist sights, I made a conscious effort to capture the people and unique activities that surrounded me. Unlike the first set of photos, I took some time to edit these to better focus on the subjects, but the final product is limited by my amateurism and equipment which was a circa 2003 Sony Cyber-Shot 2 megapixel camera with no optical zoom. It had decent optics and worked well with still subjects in good lighting, but it was challenging when capturing movement, especially indoors.

There were couples taking wedding pictures, (three weddings and no funeral), beauty pageant contestants, a Renault sponsored fitness fair, young people posing on high concrete pedestals, skateboarders and rollerbladers, kids playing soccer in the park, street musicians, and so much more. Like any famous city, Paris is overflowing with people and filled with constant activity, and yet, you can still spot a lone couple on the side of a bridge or along a quiet bank of the Seine.

This is a small sample of the characters I encountered. There was Sparrow Man who fed the little birds as they alighted on the arm of his jacket, and Opera Man, not Adam Sandler, but the startling mezzo soprano who inhabited the marble-columned passages near the Hotel du Louvre. Not represented here is the young Asian girl who played American jazz on her saxophone on a Paris bridge one warm late summer night.

I most loved the gardens that were everywhere and still in colorful bloom in September. Jardin des Tuileries features a large basin where children float colorful rented boats, and sculptures that reveal themselves as you pass between lines of hedges. The hedge lined lanes provide some privacy to couples as well. The Luxembourg was a close second and I spent the good part of a Sunday afternoon just sitting, people watching and meditating. You just pull up one of the lawn chairs, which are thoughtfully placed throughout, and inhale the view.

Wedding pics at Trocadero


Small wedding party



Another happy couple


People as art
More living sculptures


The sparrow man
Opera man


Mandatory cliché shot
Rodin pose



Poison’s Self-Realization Music Survey

I put this survey together quite a few years ago, and I’m sure I would have some very different answers today. You can share if you’re so inclined. Probably more appropriate for Facebook, but the answers are always more interesting than the questions.

  • Favorite musical style:


  • 2nd favorite style:


  • Your personal eclectic mix (everything else you like):


  • Least favorite musical style(s). Why?


  • Favorite artist(s):


  • Favorite group:


  • Favorite songs:


  • Describe your favorite musical settings and why they move you. For example, Jazz Quintet, Solo Guitar, Piano & Vocals, etc.:


  • What do you look for in a great live performance?


  • Most memorable concert you attended?


  • Which song reminds you of your spouse / significant other? Why?


  • What was your wedding song? Does it seem trite now, or would you pick the same song today?


  • Which song reminds you of a lost love?


  • Which song reminds you of your child (children)? Why?


  • Which song do you most identify with self? Why?


  • Which group or artist would you choose to compose your theme song? Why?


  • What type of music, or which artist(s) do you listen to when you’re happy? When you’re depressed?


  • What song or album gets you in “the mood?”


  • What song or album carries you back to your childhood? Why?


  • Do you like to sing? Who or what do you sound like? Who or what would you like to sound like?


  • Do you play an instrument?


  • What’s your favorite music to dance to?


  • Most memorable song lyric? Explain the significance in your life.


  • What are you listening to now?


Candlepin Bowling

I guarantee this place is not on anyone’s bucket list, but you can often find fun in unexpected places. Candlepin bowling at Saco Valley Lanes transports you back in time.

On one rainy afternoon in North Conway, NH, we searched for a nearby bowling alley. The closest lanes are in Fryeburgh, in the neighboring state of Maine. As we approached our destination we passed many neglected homes, and when we arrived, second guessed our decision. On the verge of turning around to leave, we had a change of heart when a carload of small kids pulled up next to us and headed for the entrance.

My wife, daughter and I walked into a time warp. The backdrop for the lanes was ’62 Chevy Impala light blue and the modernized scoring screens were straight out of the 80’s. Stepping cautiously to the front counter my wife was assured by the slightly grizzled Maine character, who could have come straight from central casting, “Don’t worry, I won’t bite you. How can I help you.” My wife smiled and I stepped forward to ask about the pricing and to give him our shoe sizes.

“Have you ever played ten pin?” he asked. I nodded and glanced over at the lanes expecting to see duck pins, the smaller cousin of standard bowling pins, but instead saw the straight candle pins.

He continued with instructions, “You need to push the reset button after each throw and enter the the number of pins you knock down. The computer will keep the totals.” It took a couple of minutes to figure out the keypad and to find the reset button by the ball return, but once we got going, had a great time.

The rules for candlepin bowling are a bit different with three throws per frame, and the ball is skeeball sized, but I think it suited us better. It was a great equalizer as we all stunk equally. I managed to win the first game with an amazing score in the 70’s and my daughter Kate won the second game. Now I just need to figure out how to put one of these lanes in my basement.


Paris Redux

“I have tried to unravel
The paths we’ve both had to travel
And now that I have come to see how much you meant to me
We might get to see a better view
Yes, I’m still here thinking of you
Still here thinking of you”

Still Here Thinking Of You lyrics by Carole King

My relationship with Paris was brief, awkward and solitary. Until now, with the exception of family and close friends, I’ve been reluctant to share my thoughts and feelings about this beautiful city that will forever tug at my soul. What can you say about Paris that doesn’t come across as pretentious, that hasn’t been better expressed by countless artists and expatriates? Now, nearly 10 years to the day of my first visit, I’ve had a change of heart, emboldened by the images and insights shared by several of my admired blogger brethren. This list is by no means comprehensive; I draw inspiration from all of my fellow writers.

So many people have Paris near the top of their bucket list, and although I despise the term and its connection to death, the emphasis on checking a box as a sense of achievement at the expense of spontaneity and personal experience, La Ville Lumière has well earned her prominent position. 51 Rue de la Victore was my “home” for three weeks. That address now goes by the name of the Hotel Mogador, but ten years ago, my impression of the hotel and surrounding neighborhood was mad ghetto. My room was cave-like, dark and poorly furnished with a single window that opened into a mine shaft of a courtyard. The sounds of the street level restaurants and bars that shared the structure echoed through this man made canyon late into the night, as did the moans of the amorous couple in the adjoining room one sweltering night.

After crashing in my cave for a couple of hours, I ventured out in the early afternoon to find my company’s office at 47 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. Having absolutely no sense of direction, I wandered about the neighborhood until I stumbled upon Sainte-Trinité church which was undergoing renovations. I seek peace in the sanctuary of old churches and this one was magnificent. I settled into one of the pews to collect my thoughts and admired the artistic structure. Love at first sight.

Sainte-Trinité facade

I did finally find the office, protected behind an iron gate. I felt abandoned by my French colleagues as they seemed little concerned that I was alone in a strange city with no knowledge of the language or my immediate surroundings. Fortunately for me, Paris, for a major city, is surprisingly open and welcoming.

L'Amy office
47 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin

The memories and impressions of those three weeks have blended and overlapped into a personal montage that included a side trip to Morez and Saint-Genis-Pouilly. If I was a more adventurous soul I would have explored the city at night and traveled on the Metro, but being a child of light I preferred discovering the sights, sounds and people in the warmth of the late summer days, first on the tour bus, then primarily on foot. Save for my time in the office, I ate all of my meals alone, and it was not unusual for days to pass without sharing more than a few words with another human being.

I was lonely, and yet, because it was Paris, I was never totally alone. There is something freeing about being propelled by your two feet and curiosity, and having everything you need for the day in your backpack. La Seine, the Opera Garnier, Notre Dame, la tour Eiffel, la Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, and especially the simple pleasures of the beautiful jardins du Luxembourg et des Tuileries; at times they overwhelmed the senses. I’ll share more recollections later, but here are some of the sights that sustained me.

OperaLouveEiffel 2DSC00908DSC00895DSC00901DSC00894DSC00890DSC00887DSC00874DSC00854DSC00852DSC00848DSC00837DSC00829DSC00827DSC00798DSC00757DSC00900DSC00747DSC00709DSC00678DSC00677DSC00669DSC00667DSC00647DSC00652Champs ArchDSC00625DSC00720DSC00866DSC00877DSC00929DSC00927DSC00917DSC00915


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