Have I mentioned the heat? It’s been 90+ for two weeks. Or three. We’re all melting. Today it was hot and soggy as well, a miserable situation for the guys who repaired my fence. It cost more than I thought, because as we now know, lumber is a non-renewable resource, apparently. Yes, yes, I’ve read about the cost of wood finally coming down, and that’s great. But not enough. Ah well: the big long fence is finally secure again, some posts reset in concrete, and now I have to choose a stain. The original plan was to replace the entire thing, but the estimate I got last fall was increased by a factor of four, so, no.

The interesting thing was that I called the companies to reestimate and give me a call when the proper wood became available, and none of them did. They just didn’t have to, I guess. Oh we’re swamped, can’t keep up, couldn’t do it if we wanted to, making too much money out here. Perhaps I’ll get a call in the fall: hey, we found some wood out back. It was under a tarp.

Mother-in-law left today. Back to just the two of us, first time since the middle of May. It caught me up short when doing provisioning runs tonight; cooking for two, no need to get Daughter’s favorite things. The bite-down-scowl-and-move-along will come in the fall, when the nostalgia tugs, when you I seasonal items you used to get because, well, they were seasonal and it made life slightly more fun. It’s fall, so she’ll like the apple butter for morning English Muffins! Whether or not she ate it, I can’t recall.

Went to Hunt and Gather to see if I could pick up something for Daughter’s birthday. It’s been reconfigured since the last time I was there, but that holds for every visit.

As a student of linoleum, I was interested by this:

I have no idea where it’s from or what date, despite the fact that I am a student of linoleum. Note: by “student” I mean I saw a few sales books. But I would say late 30s.

A batch of paperbacks:


Freeman Wills Crofts FRSA (1 June 1879 – 11 April 1957) was an Irish mystery author, best remembered for the character of Inspector Joseph French.

A railway engineer by training, Crofts introduced railway themes into many of his stories, which were notable for their intricate planning. Although outshone by Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler and other more celebrated authors from the golden age of detective fiction, he was highly esteemed by those authors, and many of his books are still in print.

How many ways can you kindly say “a bit dull”?

Crofts was esteemed, not only by his regular readers, but also by his fellow writers of the so-called Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Agatha Christie included parodies of Inspector French alongside Sherlock Holmes and her own Hercule Poirot in Partners in Crime (1929).

Raymond Chandler described him as "the soundest builder of them all when he doesn’t get too fancy" (in The Simple Art of Murder). His attention to detail and his concentration on the mechanics of detection makes him the forerunner of the "police procedural" school of crime fiction.

However, it has also given rise to a suggestion of a certain lack of flair – Julian Symons describing him as of "the humdrum school". This may explain why his name has not remained as familiar as other more colourful and imaginative Golden Age writers.

You're telling me that a British mystery author who centered his work around train schedules wasn't that exciting?

(Yes yes I know, ABC Murders. SHUT UP.)

How to sell a Perry Mason novel? A modern strumpet:


When a wealthy man is murdered, his son asks Perry Mason to help find the murderer and keep the widow from taking control of the estate. The only witness to the murder is a parrot.

Seems interesting. Plausible, even. Let’s read more!

The plot gets complicated when a second parrot is discovered which seems to name the killer, "Helen," -- the widow's name, but another Helen shows up, claiming she was recently married to the deceased man.

Ah, the old double-parrot / double-Helen trope.

I think I had a stroke:

That’s the main character. It’s not a Nero Wolfe book.

Alfred Hicks earns his nickname from his odd business cards. They are printed with his name and only a string of seemingly nonsensical letters forcing everyone he hands a card to ask, "And what's that stand for?"  M.S.O.T.P.B.O.M. = Melancholy Spectator of the Psychic Bellyache of Mankind.  C.F.M.O.B. is translated as Candidate for Mayor of Babylon.  Not Babylon, Long Island.  The Old Testament Babylon.  Hicks is quite the sarcastic cut-up.  He's also a disbarred lawyer who mostly ekes out a living as a taxi driver when he isn't trying to be a private detective. 


Michael Shayne! We saw him last year in a series of Lloyd Nolan movies. That red-headed devil-may-care PI.

Oh yes, just your standard ordinary antique store item:

Yeah, that's an impulse purchase.


Finally, the wall at the bottom of the basement steps.

It’s like something you’d find in a big city club. But it’s in a crammed little shop in a quiet residential district. You never know what’s behind any door.

It’s titled “Portrait de femme,” so who knows who she was.

You can read so many things into this expression.

Jake Voet’s work.

In 1671–1672 Voet received a commission from Cardinal Chigi to paint portraits of young woman who were prominent in Roman society. He created a first series of 37 portraits of the most enchanting women of Rome ('Galleria delle Belle') between 1672 and 1678 for Cardinal Chigi's dining room in his palace in Ariccia (in the Alban hills outside Rome). He later copied and even enlarged the series for other Roman and Italian noble families. This started a rage for portraits of young women in Rome and abroad.[ Clelia Cesarini Colonna, Duchess of Sonnino, as Cleopatra

In Rome Voet lived with the painter-engraver Cornelis Bloemaert. He was banned from the city by Pope Innocent XI who was scandalized by Voet's portraits of women portrayed with unseemly décolleté.

If that's unseemly, just wait for the 17th century.










A humble hamlet. Three hundred and eighty two souls, at last count. Founded in 1901. NDSU has its Diamond Jubilee Book here, celebrating 75 years. It runs 544 pages.

Don't know if they had a centennial celebration, but I'd be surprised if they didn't.

The old bank. I hope it never went under and took the farmers’ money with it.


Interesting use of decoration. It’s as if the architect repurposed some less-expensive ornaments.

It’s the decision to put that rectangle on the roofline that tells you a lot about a place.


They didn’t have to, but it made the place look a bit more grand. Just a bit.

A previous street view trip:

The hardware store seems gone. The building has gone to sleep.

Ah, but now it awakens.


"No need to tell anyone what we sell. It’s a small town. They’ll know.”


In small Midwestern towns, this is usually a drug store. At least that's what I associate it with, since there aren't many other businesses that do new downtown construction.

I think this old man was a bank once.



Perhaps the back door was for another office. A fellow who sold insurance. Working out of the bank building lent him legitimacy. If he wasn't on the level, the bank wouldn't let him have a place there, ya know.


The prefab sheet-metal building was a boon to small towns, inasmuch as it was cheap, and fast.


But it never has the same cachet as a brick structure.


The embassy from the distant capital, a stripped down emissary of modernism.



People who never give a thought to places like Maddock have no idea how the loss of this building would scour the town's psyche.

Okay, what was this once? I’m thinking, bowling alley.

Damn I'm good

Did I miss anything? Why don't you sing the Maddock song while you roam the streets.


That'll do; Motels await.