First Class, Canada Week

            It happened.  We kicked off our 2010 school year with the Tete a Tete class. You may be wondering what that is. If you own a copy of Make a Windsor Chair, I included a picture. Tete a tete is French and it means head to head. The middle e in tete should have a circumflex, while the a has an accent grave. I would have used the accents, but I don’t know how on an English keyboard.


             You mostly likely have seen a tete at tete. It is a double chair, like a settee, only the sitters face different directions. I dreamed up a Windsor version that I made using the c-arm.  I think the piece was attractive and I really liked the way the S-shaped double arm is reflected in the seat platform.


            After I published Make a Chair lots of other guys made a tete a tete. I am amused that the idea even made its way to China.  Those miniature doll-sized Windsors you see in Americana shops are made in China. The Chinese factory that makes them also makes a sack back tete a tete.


            A Windsor tete a tete is a fantasy chair, the froth of my fevered brain. It is also an anachronism, in that the two never existed together in time. Think of it being like those movies where dinosaurs chase caveman, or George Washington reads maps before the Battle of  Trenton by the light of a kerosene lamp.    The C-arm dates to the 1790s, while the tete a tete is a Victorian form from the mid-19th century. Thus, half a century separates the two. 


            This class was the first ever that was 100% Royal Orders – not a commoner among them. Also, there were no ceremonies, which meant there was no cake. That seemed inappropriate to H. G. Troy Beall. Since H. G. Lyndon Gallagher was here from Montreal, H. G. Troy decided to initiate a new celebration on his own initiative. He went to the pastry counter at the local market and bought a cake that celebrated “Canada Week.”  The cake decorator should travel more. She spelled the name of our northern neighbor Canida. Anyway, the cake was great, and the decorator did provide us with a lot of laughs.


            By the way,  H. G. Lyndon kicked off Canada Week by bringing each of his fellow Royal Orders members a pair of 2010 Olympics mittens. Apparently these mittens were so popular with the people attending the games in Vancouver that the Olympic Committee ran out them.  H. G. Lyndon had already bought so many pairs we suspect he had cornered the market, creating an artificial shortage.  I understand why the mittens were in such demand.  They are fleece lined, and very warm. Every picture taken during the week has H. G. Lyndon’s hands in it, wearing a pair of the red mittens with a white maple leaf on the open palms.


            While there were no Royal Orders celebrations, the class did celebrate the event that opens our school year. We drilled the first hole.  The backboard with all our signatures and the photo of the event hang on the wall between a window and the white board. It will be the first board into the fire when we close the year with the official Burning of the Backboards ceremony.


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            The winter 2010 issue of the magazine Maine Bar Journal included a four-page interview with Bill Clifford. Bill is an attorney from Lewiston and has taken numerous courses at The Institute. The interview included five color photos of Bill and his work. A full page portrait of him in his workshop preceded the text. We did learn something new from the article.

Bill’s nickname is Bim. Remember that if you’re ever on a bench with him. “Hey Bim, how ya been?”  Coincidently, Bim’s college roommate practices here in Hampton and they get together whenever Bim is in town.


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            You may be wondering how I made out with my winter projects. I did get the tete a tete prototype completed. I finished the article I was writing, but the editor and I will shoot the pix for it and another article when he is here in May.  I wrote 30,000 words of my next manuscript. It is a long story, but I did not undertake the book of meditations and dogs. Instead, I began the book about living with and caring for our friend Jim. June is my target for finishing the first draft. I’ll keep you posted.


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