Sunday, October 26, 2014


Just finished a Spider Solitaire game. It must have taken at least an hour. Leaning over a computer so long makes my back hurt. But, hey, I finished the damn thing, and once you get into a Spider Solitaire game, you have only two choices: beat it, or start another game.

It’s a numbing way to spend a Sunday evening. The girl of my dreams is upstairs watching football. She has become an NFL junkie. I can’t eat that much popcorn.

The day began well enough. Sunday Mass, then to Stafford’s for their marvelous Sunday brunch. After which I promised her a surprise. Polly loves surprises. Keeps asking questions, looking for a hint. I don’t budge. Just grin and say, “You’ll see.”

Stafford’s is closed. Breakfast only at this time of the year. We go to Pallette Bistro, which lets you make your own Bloody Mary. Back on track, we talk some politics, prompted by the church bulletin, which reminds the faithful that good citizens always vote. Still no hints from me. She’s like a college girl on a date. I love it.

About twenty minutes drive in the Autumn countryside, and I turn onto a driveway that leads to a charming farmhouse. It’s obviously a working farm. Chickens, horses, a big red barn plus three or four assorted outbuildings. Everything as neat, clean and untidy as country living requires.

One knock on the front door is enough to bring Doug Melvin and his wife Carol, smiling to greet us. Introductions all around. Polly still doesn’t know the surprise.

It only takes a minute. Doug leads us through the house, identifying the many paintings and other works of artistic skill that adorn the walls. All the while, we are bantering about our mutual enthusiasm for the Spartans of Michigan State. Doug and Carol went down to East Lansing for the Big Game yesterday. We couch potatoed on the fifty yard line.

Portraits, landscapes, a couple of slick, professionally designed and constructed soap box derby carts, even a small painting done with Q tips, merited oos and ahhs from my date. Soon enough, Doug was showing us the barn, a magnificent structure built exactly as the red barns of the nineteenth and twentieth century were structured. Except his is new.

Then came the piece de resistance – the junk sculpture. Not quite finished, this one, but a dawning beauty it is. A horse, actually a Shetland pony, made entirely out of scrap metal. A shovel blade here, an old pipe there,  some rusty scraps of this and that, somehow bent and shaved and twisted into the recognizable features of the animal.

Doug has made a number of them, a couple proudly displayed on the front lawns of upscale suburbanite homes in Bloomfield hills. I can see why they call it art.

That was most of the surprise. The rest of it was that I want Polly to pose for a portrait. Doug says he doesn’t do many women’s portraits. They’re never satisfied, says he. Something about the variance between image and self image.

I told him I thought he could do something she would be pleased with. At least it’s worth a try. I have a number of treasured pictures of my darling wife, one a chalk drawing done by a sidewalk Rembrant in Florida maybe fifty years ago. I remember that beautiful woman.

Still, she has a charm in these later years that deserves being memorialized. Her grandchildren call her Pookie. She’s the one who knows all the birthdays and sends them each a dollar on Valentines Day. I want very much to give them a portrait of the lady they have known so well and loved so much.

She’s calling me for dinner. Wants to talk about the portrait. Sounds like cold feet. We’ll see.

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