Brushing up on Retirement.

I remember some light-hearted fun-poking when it was discovered that former president George W. Bush had taken up painting in his retirement. It may be that the teasing was a little premature.

His latest book (he has had more than one on the best-seller’s lists) – his latest is called Portraits of Courage, a collection of military veterans paintings done by the former president. I didn’t really study his early works – a couple of self-portraits were among the earliest – but I know from experience that it is much easier to put down criticism than it is to pick up a brush.

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When the book arrived in the shop today, I was immediately impressed with the cover. Boxing in the title are a series of portraits that – taken at face value (nyuk, nyuk, pun intended) – are fairly striking. Stylized faces in soft colors.

Most artists of any note have their own technique, and if the result is supposed to look exactly like the subject, then a cell-phone photo ought to suffice.

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Of course, President Bush has had a few years to work on his technique: two terms and a swearing-in ceremony’s worth of time.

I’d say he’s made the most of it.

It may be favorite-son status, or former US president notoriety, but a collection of the original portraits is currently on display in Dallas, and the book is currently on display at the top of a number of national best-seller lists.

He writes in the book that he isn’t sure how his efforts will be received, due to his status as a “novice” – but he adds that “each painting was done with a lot of care and respect.” His efforts in those regards are apparent. His may be a quick ascent to the book lists and art galleries, but then again – maybe he paid enough dues in a different arena to legitimately bump up his place in line.

At lunchtime today I spotted someone looking over John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage,” – published in 1961. I can easily imagine someone giving President Bush’s “Portraits in Courage” the same consideration in another half-century.

Providing that these things called “books” are still around then.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 S. Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

As Seen on Television…

Media Surprise Day! No advisory notice from Facebook or the 5-Things-4-Friday newspaper column, but we found out early in the day that we were on TV and featured in a magazine!

The early morning guests were just about as startled as I was.

“Saw you on TV this morning!” said the early-arriver, smiling.

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“You saw me?” I replied, thinking that if a camera crew had wandered in, I would have noticed. (Apparently, that isn’t the case, as proven by the next episode…)

“Sure did,” he answered. “This morning.”

We went through a mutual we-must-be-crazy moment, when I was pretty sure I couldn’t have been the one he had seen, and he was fairly certain I was. It was settled when he asked, “Do you have a first edition copy of a Charles Dickens book?”

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“I do,” I answered, and then remembered that the TV program Discover Oklahoma! had included a bit on the book when they interviewed Dustin and me last summer.

We’re a re-run, I guess. I missed it again. Fortunately, the OETA-produced program keeps its episodes on YouTube, so I was able to see the segment later. (You can watch it clicking here. Our segment starts at about the 9-minute mark.)

The TV Mystery had just been solved when a group of ladies arrived for lunch. Ms Judy whipped out a copy of TULSA PEOPLE magazine and opened it immediately to a page with a picture of cup of stew.

Familiar-looking.

“That looks just like our stew,” I said aloud, amazed at the incredible similarity.

It was a large photo and I could clearly see the finely-diced carrots, the potatoes, the thick brown gravy. Just. Like. Dustin’s. When I spotted flecks of basil, I thought – Wait a minute here. Looked at the text and our store name jumped out at me.

It wasn’t until later that I was able to read the short paragraph (we had to serve their lunch, after all…) and look again at the picture. No by-line or credit was given for the photograph or the text, but it is beautifully done (as far as stew can be a beautiful thing…), and presented in a very high quality publication. Nice slick pages and glossy photos.

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The ladies told me that they loved to go try out new places for lunch, and at having seen the cup of stew and the address, decided to give us a try.

I’m not certain the text is legible in the attached image, but the fine print after the headline reads:

“Dream of Dublin with a stop at Broken Arrow’s McHuston Booksellers and Irish Bistro. Nestled in the booming Rose District, the bookstore and café fills its tables for lunch, which features daily sandwiches and traditional Irish fare. Try the Everyday Special ($7), a cup of Irish stew – a menu staple – with a half sandwich for a hearty meal.”

They even included our internet address and store location.

Thanks right here and now to Dustin – it’s a grand-looking cup ‘o stew in the picture! A rousing Thank You to daughter (and Dustin’s sister) Kristen for helping in the front of the house today, and keeping the ladies happy.

And a Thanks! to the uncredited photographer who was wily enough to slip in and take pictures during our lunch rush – without me being any the wiser! (It has been extra-busy, of late, and I don’t seem to get any wiser…)

An official
McHuston Booksellers and Irish Bistro shout-out to TULSA PEOPLE publisher Jim Langdon, for allowing us to be included in the fine-looking and informative magazine!

Another year is upon us, and our wish to you is that your hand reaches out in friendship and never in need, so you may forget the troubles that pass away, and remember blessings that come each day.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

Turning the page on 2016.

A decade of books is just about in the books.

During that span of time, Broken Arrow’s Main Street has undergone significant changes, and – while they are less dramatic – the Rose District (as it is now called) is still evolving.

Some of the modifications are long-term, like the planters currently being constructed in the block between Dallas and El Paso. Others are designed to be short-term, like the installation of an ice skating rink at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion. Judging from the number of skaters I saw the other evening, it has been well received. Who’d have imagined ice skating in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma?

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Ten years ago, I would not have imagined serving lunches in the bookstore. It was a plan that grew out of the location change, and the popular acceptance of digital reading. Didn’t know what might become of the book business when people began reading on their tablets, but I believed soups and sandwiches might have a continuing appeal.

It’s been a journey getting from 2006 to 2016, and some of our shop-owning neighbors have moved on to other things while new folks have refurbished vacated spots and hung out their own shingle. (An old expression, dating back from when a lettered roof-tile indicated the business being conducted inside – I’m compelled to try to keep vintage sayings around.)

As we wrap up the year and anticipate the beginning of 2017, I’d like to thank each of you who might have popped in and bought a book in those first five years. You kept the shop going long enough to reach the second five years and the opening of the bistro kitchen.

Another heartfelt thanks goes out to those of you who stopped in and bought a book, or a soup and sandwich during these past five years, and particularly those of you who remember when I was serving soup solo.

We’re headed toward three years together – Dustin and I – serving up plates of food at lunchtime. Some of our guests remember times – early on – when they might have been at the only occupied table in the house.

We’ve lasted ten years on Main Street only because people have helped us pay the rent and utilities by buying something, whether it’s a book or a meal. Dustin and I know there are many – many – places to eat lunch in Broken Arrow, and we are grateful when you allow us prepare lunch for you.

We genuinely appreciate your business, and your friendship. From our family to yours – may the New Year be filled with happiness, discovered dreams, and lasting good fortune!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main Street, Broken Arrow OK!