Thursday, June 28, 2012


The Old Man is buying an historic building in Downtown Ottawa, Kansas.

The two story purple, yellow, and orange building was built in 1887. The colors are atrocious, a poor attempt to recreate Van Gogh's painting, Cafe Terrace at Night. but with too much purple and the wrong shades of yellow and salmon. The undersized green awning has no function or purpose.

The Old Man asked for a lot of advice before jumping into this one - the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. Everyone told him not to do it, most assuredly family members who were happy with the status quo. The Old Man stuck it out and negotiated a big, big, big reduction in the price. Even then, the Old Man knows that it all comes down to income and expenses. And still, everyone said that the Old Man is a fool to buy the building.

The Old Man's decision, right or wrong, reminds him of the phrase, "Fools rush in where angles fear to tread." 'Fools rush in...' has a precise derivation - it is a quotation from English poet Alexander Pope's An essay on criticism, 1709. Pope was discussing the annoying habit of critics to criticize:

... All Books he reads, and all he reads assails,
From Dryden's Fables down to Durfey's Tales.
With him, most Authors steal their Works, or buy;
Garth did not write his own Dispensary.
Name a new Play, and he's the Poet's Friend,
Nay show'd his Faults - but when wou'd Poets mend?
No Place so Sacred from such Fops is barr'd,
Nor is Paul's Church more safe than Paul's Church-yard:
Nay, fly to Altars; there they'll talk you dead;
For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.
The phrase has been picked up over the years by authors and artists, its meaning a metaphor for "the rash or inexperienced will attempt things that wiser people are more cautious of."

The Old Man is not rash nor inexperienced, and hopes that the wisdom of the decision becomes clear.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fear and Conscience

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all...

Hamlet, Act III, scene i (58–90).

Poor Hamlet, his uncle murders his father, the King, and marries his mother, the Queen. Hamlet beset by his father's ghost frets on what course of action he should take. Hamlet soliloquizes - "To be or not to be, ..." what makes action impossible. 'Tis “conscience [that] does make cowards of us all . . . thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

Shakespeare's Hamlet was concerned with the question of morality. Can the murder of his uncle appease the murder of his father? What then is to become of his mother? What part in the deed does she play?

What of those who are amoral, those who have no conscience? For them, the Old Man thinks that fear itself makes us cowards. It is the fear of uncertainty. What consequences do our actions engender? "Ay, there is the rub," for who knows what may come.

The Old Man is not alone to be amazed by Shakespeare's wisdom. Wisdom suggests experience. Maybe the idea for the words are created in The George Inn, 77 Borough High Street, Borough, London, one of London's oldest pubs and situated near the London Bridge. It is the Winter of 1599, Shakespeare is sitting at a table with his best friend Richard Burbage for whom he wrote many of the parts of his plays including Hamlet. The two of them have a decision to make, their theater lease is up and a new location has been found across the river. But they lack the funds to purchase the lumber for a new theater. One of them poses the suggestion, that they dismantle the theater that they currently lease, one that they built with their own funds and haul the lumber across the Thames over the ice and though the snow to the new location.

Does fear of the law, uncertainty of the legality of their act, cross their minds. Surely, it does. Fortified in the choice by a pint of bitter, was it William Shakespeare or Richard Burbage who said, "Fie on the consequences, let's do it." They did and the Globe Theater was built.

The Old Man must make a decision, indeed he makes many decisions every day whose consequences may be uncertain. This decision seems a simple one, for The Old Man is updating the web pages for Traditions Furniture. Simple as it may seem, the Old Man knows that the coding involved is extensive. Multiple pages will be added. New links and new images will be uploaded. Mistakes can be costly. Google, the monolithic god that determines search placement may not smile on the new changes.

Still, like Hamlet, the Old Man must march ahead, for to not act is to act. It is to choose the same course of action in a world that moves on. By not acting, we fall behind.

Check out the changes on Traditions Furniture and tell the Old Man if he was right.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Anne Boleyn Again

The Old Man knows that one thing often leads to another.

Take Anne Bolyen and her marriage to Henry VIII for example. Anne Boleyn had a pivotal effect on English history. She deposed a Queen, Catherine of Aragon, cause a schism in the English Church and a split with the Roman Pope, started a war with Spain that ended with the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and brought forth into the world a bastard child, Elizabeth, who unwanted and ignored for most of her life would become England's most famous Queen Bess.

The Old Man wonders what kind of woman was Anne. There is the rumor that Anne had 6 fingers and 3 breast along with assorted moles all over her body. But that is silly, King Henry VIII, himself a good looking man, would not have been attracted to someone so bizarre.

The Venetian Ambassador to the English Court said she was 'not one of the handsomest women in the world...'.  Physically, she had dark, olive-colored skin, thick dark brown hair and piercing eyes dark brown which often appeared black.  She was of average height, had small breasts, and a long, elegant neck.

Anne Boleyn image from Wikipedia
Anne Boleyn was one to inspire poetry, even if not all of it was flattery. Sir Thomas Wyatt, another suitor wrote this unflattering poem after her marriage to Henry in 1533.

Ye old mule that think yourself so fair,
Leave off with craft your beauty to repair,
For it is true, without any fable,
No man setteth more by riding in your saddle.
Too much travail so do your train appair.
     Ye old mule
With false savour though you deceive th'air,
Whoso taste you shall well perceive your lair...
Read the full poem at English History

Anne's coronation, we know from the prior post, was Whitsunday, June 1, 1533. Anne gave birth to Elizabeth on September the 7th, 68 days after her coronation as Queen Anne for those who are counting. Anne was expected to give birth to a male heir, but failed. She tried again, or should we say Henry did. By January of 1634, she was again pregnant, but the child was stillborn. She was again pregnant, but by January of 1635, the child was stillborn.

For Henry, it was apparently three strikes and you are out. The queen was tried for treason - the charges were incest, adultery and plotting Henry's death. Enough witnesses were found to condemn her and she was executed by beheading on Monday, May 15, 1536.

If we know nothing else about Anne, we know that she was a forgiving person. Her final speech before the stroke that delivered her head from her body was recorded and saved. Here it is:


Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

The sword that was to do the deed was hidden in the straw on the scaffold were she was executed. After being blindfolded and kneeling at the block, she repeated several times:

To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul.

Contrast Anne's quiet demeanor with Henry's actions.

On the morning of Anne's execution, Henry, attired for a chase and attended by his huntsmen, waited near Richmond, and when he heard the boom of the signal gun, which was to assure him that Anne breathed no more, exclaimed in exultation, "Uncouple the hounds, and away!" Paying no regard to the game, he galloped off at full speed to Wolf Hall where Jane Seymour was staying. The next morning, Saturday, May 20th, 1536, he led Jane Seymour to the altar of Tottenham church.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Anne Boleyn

The Old Man likes history and on this day in history, June 1st, 1533, Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen Consort of England.

Anne Boleyn, image from Wikipedia

Like so many other affairs of the heart, this one started in the work place. Anne was lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon, queen to Henry VIII. Catherine was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. Yes, they were that Ferdinand and Isabella who completed the Reconquista, united Spain, and sent Christopher Columbus across the ocean blue. But back to Anne and Henry. Henry was smitten with Anne. But, first he had to annul his marriage to the devoutly Catholic Catherine. She was not in agreement and neither was the Pope. Henry worked his way around that by splitting from the Catholic Church, declaring himself to be Head of a new Anglican Church and then divorcing himself from Catherine. Catherine was sent to a nunnery, the Pope excommunicated Henry, and Spain spent the next 75 years trying to invade England and bring Anglican England back into the Catholic fold.

Anne enjoyed three years as the wife of Henry VIII and as Queen of England. She bore one child, Elizabeth, who would one day become Queen Regent.

By January 1536, Catherine of Aragon died, rumored by poisoning. Anne was pregnant with a male child, but the child was stillborn. This was the beginning of Anne's end. Within a few months, Henry had Anne investigated for high treason. On the 2nd of May 1536, she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried on trumped up charges of incest and adultery before a jury of peers - which included Henry Percy, her former betrothed and even her own uncle. She was convicted and sentence to death. On May 19th she was executed by beheading. To receive the blow of the blade, she knelt upright, in the French style of executions and one swift blow did the trick.

To the end Anne would maintain to Henry that she was, "Your most loyal and ever faithful wife." Others agreed including Sir Thomas More, Erasmus, and even Martin Luther.

Anne might have been a home wrecker, but Henry was certainly a philander and worse. He would marry four more times, one more time relying on execution to remove an unwanted wife. Anne's only revenge was that Elizabeth, her daughter by Henry, would become one day Queen Elizabeth I.

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, is to be celebrated in 2012. The present day Elizabeth was, by blood line, a Windsor . Elizabeth I, daughter of Anne and Henry, was the last of the Tudors.