Well, you see what happened was this.
In early 2020, I came down with shingles as I flew to Detroit.
After that came post-herpetic neuralgia – intense pain in my left foot.
And not long after that came the pandemic and isolation. And I stepped down from my union leadership role.
For both the pain and the isolation, I sought refuge in creating what I called shadow boxes or assemblages.
I bought figurines and made themed shadow boxes.
The most recent – and perhaps the last in a while – has been a three-part celebration of troubadours, the composers and performers of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). My mother’s father Jean Beck devoted his life to the study of their music. It’s a long and interesting story that I will save for the time being.
I built my shadow boxes based on recent politics and popular culture, which for the most part was drawn from books I have written about slang.
With my work on troubadours, I have tried to close the circle that unites me with a grandfather whom I never knew, a grandfather whose life-work and scholarship dealt with popular culture, albeit that of the 12th century.
My friend Pam Woodbridge made the castle interior for this box. The two brass pieces on the wall in the bottom photo were my grandfather’s. You will notice that I am not rigid about keeping the scale consistent in this box.
There are two other components of my ode to troubadours.
J. Roth of Heirloom Woodworks in Frost, Texas built this lovely courtyard where my troubadours serenade courtesans.
There will be a bench added to this scene.
The third element of the troubadour assemblage is jousting.
It is not yet confined to a box.
The two crusader soldiers in this photo were mine when I was a little boy, and my brother’s before me. And possibly my father’s before him.
Pam’s father John assembled the cardboard buildings in these photos.
So – a hint of what I have done to keep my mind off the pain in my foot, the isolation of the pandemic, and the adjustment at work.
I have about 20 boxes that I would proudly show, none as personal as the troubadours here. When I figure out what is next for them, you will be the first to know.
I wasn’t sure what my friend would say when I asked him about this draft post. I know that he has been hoping that I would get back in the saddle. He was true to form.
Arranging small things with purpose
is a great way to refocus. Your project is great.
I can’t wait to see more. You have always been so generous sharing the work of others- it’s wonderful to see yours. Best wishes Tom.