Online at Yield and Overcome Since 2007 — Fighting the Good Fight In These Parts Since 2011

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What's Old Is Cool Again

One of the great pleasures I've discovered in recent years in antiquing with our four older kids. Rummaging through old junk and treasures is not Jodi's favorite thing -- but the kids enjoy it, and through this activity, they've begun to cultivate new personal interests. It's a delight to see where their curiosity takes them.

For Emma and Trevor, antique shops are like free museums. They wander and browse and ask questions about the novelties they see -- and many things appear new to young eyes. Emma is never looking to buy, but is drawn to colorful kitchen implements and old machines with buttons: manual typewriters, adding machines, cash registers, you name it. Trevor has no such particular interests, though his attention is drawn by typically boyish subjects: creatures, toys and games, and oddities. And both (in fact, all four) of the kids are becoming expert at spotting Fiesta dishes for their mother.

Brendan and Gabe are active antique shoppers, and prefer to have money in their pocket when they step into a shop. Gabe likes religious artwork and books, vintage hats, and Coca-Cola memorabilia, while Bren looks for military surplus, historical books, manly artifacts like hunting and camping gear, and anything to do with Vernors ginger ale. Last weekend the three of us ventured out to give Brendan some driving practice in snow and traffic, and hit a military surplus store and three antique shops. Brendan spent $20 on an explosives crate, pictured above, to complement his military ammo box, and Gabe got a steal: a like-new copy of Our Daily Bread for a dollar and change. (Brendan drooled briefly over a signed ink sketch of Captain America knocking the heads of Hitler and Hirohito together, but decided that he didn't have a couple hundred extra bucks.)

Both of these older boys show a nose for finding the right stuff and finding deals. Last spring, when Gabe and I brought Rosa (my old pickup) home from Michigan, we stopped at a junk shop in northern Wisconsin packed floor to ceiling with old stuff, new stuff, repurposed and recycled stuff -- none of it marked. While the old fellow running the place made sporadic attempts to buy Rosa, Gabe nosed around the shelves of "smalls" and emerged with an inexpensive plaster-cast of the classic "praying hands" sculpture, a thimble-sized glass bottle of actual Coca-Cola, and a leather-bound Polish prayer book, pictured below. (Gabe knows how to say a few Polish words, but how he recognized this book as Polish, I don't know.) He showed them to the old man, who was so intrigued by Gabe's finds he charged him just a few dollars for the entire collection.

Brendan, meanwhile, has been eyeing an old, unopened six-pack of Vernors at a local shop for a year or so now. It's priced at $50, as I recall; he went in last fall during a 20-percent-off sale, but still wasn't sure he could drop $40 on it. He asked at the register if they could take less, and they told him the collector who was selling it had a deal with the shop that they could take 20 percent off his prices, but anything lower had to be negotiated with him in person. Brendan said thank you and walked away.

I told him later that I was impressed with his resolve. "Well, they basically told me I could get it for 20 percent off anytime, so I might as well come back another time when the guy is around," he said.

Good thinking.

Me? I like books, boots, and beer memorabilia; shaving supplies; old tools; and all the stuff they like. Not sure who is influencing whom in this case, but with fresh eyes, what's old is cool again.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Holiday Letter 2014

The Thorplets, Winter 2013

Belated Season's Greetings! Our annual Christmas letter goes in the mail to most of you tomorrow morning -- but in case you can't wait, it's online now! We miss you all, and wish you many blessings in this new year!
The Thorp Gang

Monday, December 30, 2013

Greeting from the North Pole, Part XI Redux

Blogger's Note: For several years now, we have received a Christmas letter from an Elfin correspondent, Siberius Quill. This Christmas morning we found the handwritten note, indicating there has been some sort of accident at the Pole and that we would receive a full account when we got back from the Black Hills. What follows is the letter we found when we returned home last night.

Christmas 2013

My dearest children!

Belated Season’s Greetings to you and your Family. Another year has come and gone in a twinkling, and I find myself writing belatedly to a brood of Thorplets (as your father would call you!) whom I scarcely recognize. How quickly the five of you are growing, and how Helpful and Wise for ones so young! We elves live for many centuries, so the Rapid Progression of humanity from Infancy to Adulthood never ceases to amaze. Scarcely do we know you, ’ere we are writing to your Children’s Children!

It is a bittersweet transition, as well, for as always I’ve watched and listened as often as I might, and not once in the Past Year have you elder four raised a Single Question about Kris Kringle, reindeer, or the Magic of the Season. Perhaps I have answered your past Questions too well, so that None remain, or perhaps your Faith is just that Strong—nevertheless, it has been with Great Joy that I’ve heard young Miss Lillian say “Santa Claus” and “Ho, ho, ho!” these past few days. My thanks to you for instilling in her the Wonder appropriate to her age at Christmas! Soon she may have questions of her own for me! 

By the time you receive this, you will have seen by your Gifts the weight of your Goodness this past year. My apologies again for the brief handwritten note on Christmas Day. (I hope the hasty self-portrait made up for it!) I promised a full account, and it follows: My maternal Grandfather, Brevity Parchment, whom I mentioned in my very first letter to your family, celebrated his eleven-hundred-and-seventy-first birthday on December the 23rd—an unusual milestone, to be sure, being neither a nice Round Number of decades or centuries, nor abnormally Old for most Elfin families. In the case of the Parchments, however, “Brevity” is more than just a name—Papa is the seventh Brevity in the line, all of whom have worked in Tags and Greetings, and all of whom have passed to the Next Life all of a Sudden when aged 1,170 years. (This is no sad thing; we Elves know well that this current Life, however long, is merely a Stepping Stone to a more wondrous world, so we have none of the Dread that accompanies the thought among so many of Your Kind!)

So on the Eve of the 22nd, as our seventh Brevity was about to outlast his elder Namesakes, we threw a tremendous Birthday Party. All the Elves from all the Divisions were there, with the Elfin Choir and the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Winter leading our favorite Songs and Carols, and a cake baked by the Mrs. Claus herself. And such a cake! The only place with tables enough to support so many acres of fresh-baked Sweetness was the Wrapping Gallery, and then, only with all the paper pushed to the sides and all Tables pushed together at the center! The young Chief Engineer of our North Pole Lighting Corps, Wick Talloswerth, conspired to ignite simultaneously 1,171 birthday candles stuck at intervals across the Massive Expanse of frosting. It was an audacious attempt and worked flawlessly—for a long moment, Papa Parchment’s kindly old eyes shone with the light of a Thousand and More candles gleaming just for him! But some of the Younger Elves had filled Countless Containers with confetti and tinsel and balanced them among the rafters to dump down upon the Revelers at party’s end, and the roar of Laughter than accompanied Papa’s attempts to blow out So Many Candles caused several of the buckets to toppled from their perches, and their contents to ignite! Every attempt to reach and extinguish the Fire at the center of a Roomful of Cake further shook the rafters and dislodged more of the Celebratory debris—and so the Fire spread, candle to tinsel to confetti to wrap, until the building itself ignited. By the time Reginald Meltwater, the captain of the Fire Brigade, and his men escaped the party and returned to battle the Blaze, it had spread the Mailroom, destroying Countless cards and letters.

Old Red felt badly that the Party, the Wrapping Gallery, and the Mailroom were a loss, but Papa was no worse for all the excitement of the evening, and went right to work alongside the rest. With just two days to work, we Correspondents were scrambling to get any letters out at all—but he and his best Versewrights and Calligraphers pitched in to be sure that Everyone who expected a letter received one! 

And with that, my Story and my Letter are both complete. A Very Happy Christmas to you all!

Yours Still and Always,
Siberius Quill