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Visiting with Oz Mondejar and John Verlinden




Visiting with Oz Mondejar and John Verlinden

I consider a home to be where the heart of a family can be nourished and prosper. The home of Oz Mondejar and John Verlinden is filled with a welcoming abundance of art and artifacts. This invites one and all in for a party of sharing cultures from all around the world with a focus on Cuba, the ancestral homeland of Oz. Here they have created a fantastic place that offers comfort and delight for all who enter.I see this as a reflection of the deep love shared between two men who together form an expansive bond of abundant joy.      

IA: How long have you both been in a primary relationship of love and respect?

O&J: We met in Baltimore in 1985 and have been in a relationship since then. It has always been a whole lot of fun – humor is the glue that keeps us attached, respect & love are always present, we just care for each other.

IA: Did you always consider yourselves a married couple in an affectionate and spiritual manner?

O&J: Yes, we did and do.  We’re creative, kindred spirits, we share an appreciation for family, friends, animals, community, nature, the cosmos, a good meal with vino and the arts.  We have a few interests in common, and our own passions.  One commonality is that it’s hard for us to sit still. We’ve been told we have ants in our pants.   We’re just never done … there’s always a looming project or adventure under foot. 

IA: Are you married legally in the State of Massachusetts?

O&J: Yes

IA: If married in a legal sense do you consider that status to have contributed to the well-being of yourselves and your extended family?

O&J: Yes! By the time marriage became legal in Massachusetts, we’d already been together for 19 years, so we really questioned whether or not we should even bother, but we did consider it a historic event, so we decided to go ahead and do it. We were both surprised at how meaningful and important being able to officially marry would be for us. The process and the government’s endorsement of it affirmed us and has made us stronger as a couple. It was validating.

IA: Briefly, what are your individual professions?

O: Hospital Administration, Executive with Partners Healthcare, Spaulding Rehabilitation network.

J: — Chef, Food Writer “To Cook Is To Love,” published 2010 and Small Business Consultant

IA: What is a highlight of each of your professional careers that has been particularly fulfilling?

O&J: We are both community guys, and our professions have facilitated our efforts.  We have been able to do many things to support and enhance and advocate for our communities — People with Disabilities, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Woman’s Rights & Children’s issues.

IA: When and how did you find your house?

R to L, John and Oz greeting us at their front door                                  Photo by Iory Allison

O&J: It was 1987 — we were looking for a condo, and had just put an offer in on an apartment (650 square feet) in the South End, when Oz’s sister who was also looking for a condo, suggested we pool our money and look for a two-family home. We started looking in Brookline because our niece was in school and Brookline has great schools.

IA: What condition was the building when you found it?

O&J: In a word — it was ‘rough — a hot mess’. The headline of the classified ad for the house said “Developer or Would Be Developer?’ At the time, we purchased it (in reality it purchased us), the house was being utilized as a rooming house. We purchased it from the estate of a woman who’d lived in it for 60 years. After raising her family and losing her husband, she rented out rooms on a short-term basis.

IA: What were you attracted to about this house in particular?

O&J: It is a great old house with lots of character, the woodwork on the first floor was installed by skilled craftsmen and is intact.  It has survived the allure of paint for nearly a century. The house has a welcoming aura. Also, when we first moved in, the presence of Pauline, the previous owner was palpable.  She was loved by the neighbors…we felt welcomed by her. 

The house is a grand ol’ dame, she requires regular touch-ups and grooming. We truly are the caretakers much more than the owners.

First floor parlor with original paneling, diptych painting by Magda Campos – Pon, Cuba Artist, Professor at Mass College of Art.                          Photo by Iory Allison

IA: Did you have to do extensive renovation to create the third-floor guest suite?

O&J: Yes, we did a gut-renovation. We took everything back to the studs; we took out almost all of the walls and took the ceiling out to create a space that is open to the rafters.


Third floor guest suite with original roof beams exposed        Photo by Iory Allison

IA: Do each of you have specific and singular interests concerning your home?

O&J: It’s warm, eclectic, with many quirks.   Although it’s a never-ending fixer upper, we both love everything about the place. And, we feel like it’s happy having us live here.

IA: Do these individual interests complement each other?

O&J: We collaborate on almost every project. Oz has a great eye for design, so he is the creative visionary, John is handy and crafty, so our skills are very compatible.

IA: Is there something that you do together concerning your home that you both love and adore?

O&J: We both enjoy hospitality and entertaining — opening doors for gatherings.  This stems from our upbringing. Both our families hosted, loved cooking, and breaking bread…it was rare not to have guests at the table.   Sharing the house keeps that tradition, it feels right and we’re also recovering restaurateurs.  We both grew up in the service biz, working our way through every food & beverage station. It’s in our DNA…we’re seasoned party planners.

A corner of John’s office – hanging paintings by Pat Peter from Gateway Arts. Abstract animal hanging plaque, ‘S/T’ by Roberto Baranda. The freestanding sculpture and the basket are created by South African Zulu Tribe Artists                                         Photo by Iory Allison

IA: Did you have an idea of the look or style of your completed home?

O&J: Curious and eclectic are good descriptors. We’re collectors, so we have filled the house with furniture, art and collectibles from many different eras, made of many different materials and from many different places around the world.   It’s always evolving, we like change — so we change it up.

IA: I see your home as a museum of whimsy and uninhibited delight. I see a relationship between the art and artifacts as you have chosen and arranged them that animates an audible conversation. That conversation seems to be to be expressing an appreciation of the beauty and richness of many cultural references and indeed speaks of a universal joyous aesthetic. Is there a theme to your collecting or a kind of story that you are telling with your incredibly rich world?


The Big Boy Hamburger kid in red checks, Jackie all boxed in, and Bart Simpson – just to mention a few of the denizens of the high shelves in John’s office              Photo by Iory Allison

O&J: (Iory this is a lovely description and spot on).  Although a specific theme is not always at the top of our minds at times. it’s a bit reminiscent of vintage 30’s, 40’s & 50’s.

we’re attracted to items that are playful and tell a story…most are vintage.  We see relationships between some items that we already have and a new item we see that we’d like to acquire, if they belong together, they have come home.

IA: Have you always collected art? What is art in your home and what is merely utilitarian? I ask this because there are vignettes composed of, for instance what looks like old garden tools, but arranged as a sculptural composition with purpose and I am amazed by the myriad of details that fill every corner with a twinkling smile.


Old garden tools as sculpture                   Photo by Iory Allison

O&J: We do see art and style in utilitarian things. And, we do have a rule about our collecting — No piece just gets to sit around and look pretty and collect dust; everybody has to work.

IA: John what items of your personal collections are most important to you? What items of your personal collections allows you a private giggle?

J: I do have favorites, of course, but I would never let the other pieces know.  We love all of our little collectible children equally.

IA:  what items of your personal collections are most important to you? What items of your personal collections allows you a private giggle?

O: A relic from Cuba of yesteryear… our patron saint – La Caridad del Cobre (Lady of Charity) from my family’s home in Cuba. The Giggle part is my Jane Mansfield hot water bottle

La Caridad del Cobre, the trials of life leave marks on the blessed Madonna and her companions

IA: John what of Oz’s collection strikes you as profound and enriching to your life?

Paramount Theatre on Washington Street, Boston by street artist, Sykel      Photo by Iory Allison

J: Ozzie has great taste, so I love just about everything he brings home. If not, I hide them.  And, anything that I’m not crazy about in the beginning seems to grow on me as time goes by. I would say that Ozzie has brought a level of sophistication and refinement to our collection that I would never have been able to achieve on my own.

IA: Oz what of John’s collection strikes you as profound and enriching to your life?

O: John has the best rubber toy collection  really (IA, see Email photo)

… and since he’s the Chef and creative ruler of the kitchen, I’ll say his Russell Wright dinnerware, they complement his every dish.  As a writer, the book he authored, “To Cook is to Love,” is the best example and collection of his passion, creativity and knowledge of food and all these ingredients come together to please the palate. Everything he makes has Mucho Gusto.

 (IA, Cook = Love, is first a conversation then an invitation to dinner with Sra. Mondejar where she relates her stories of growing up in pre-Castro Cuba – Oz is a first-generation USA citizen born in New Jersey.)   

John’s biographical cook book about Oz’s Mom, “Mami Aida” and her Cuban recipes.  

IA: Did you always want a garden component to your home? Did you look for a home with a garden?

O&J: Yes, gardens are really special places. There is something about being outside with nature that inspires and enriches us. When looking for a home, we definitely wanted some kind of outdoor space.   Our garden is urban, it’s on the smaller side and the perfect size for us.

IA: How have those gardens, decks, porches and outdoor spaces evolved?  

Garden pavilion off the back deck of the rear garden                       photo by Iory Allison

O&J: Our outdoor spaces have really evolved over the years, and they will continue to gain more character and create more interest in the future. Just like our indoor rooms, the look and feel of these outdoor rooms has grown and become more layered over time. They are extensions of the house, a bit country, vintage furniture and honky-tonk warmth. This was the first season that the garden felt pretty settled; it has been a work in progress since the beginning. 

IA: I see, inside and out, your home is created with numerous places for socializing. Do you entertain a lot? Do you like sharing your space with family and friends?

O&J: Yes, as indicated above, we do a lot of entertaining. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t have at least a friend or two over, and we also like to throw larger gatherings for benefits.

The gentlemen of the house


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The Enchanted Forest

Provincetown Carnival 2019

                                                                    Photo by Iory Allison  

Ptown Carnival is an annual  summer afair  that may be shortened to a one night stand if you are chased by the loves into the enchanted forest where gender fluidity is only the beginning of metamorphosis. At any particular stage of larvic undulation one might exclaim, “Yikes! I’m growing humungus  butterfly wings outta my back!”  But hark, don’t dispair those are actually fairy wings and they sparkle with glitter. How bad could that be?  

Alarming as metamorphosis might be, whatta’bout the schlub who sloshed cocktails all up and down Comercial Street until he reached The Monkey Bar where-upon, downing a double whammy “Monkey Piss” concocktion,  he desolved right there and then onto the floor where no amount of sawdust could sop up his essence and as a result he leaked between the cracks. Now that’s a way-big transformation and a hell of a way to stiff the bartender. But come to think of it I rather like my bartenders stiff.   

 Yes Muchachos, Magic is afoot so watch out! As you may have guessed from the above bolderdash Mr. Iory high-tailed it out to the crowing glory of old Cap Cod, Provincetown,  that infamous pirate hang-out dangling on the tip of the biggest sand bar in the Atlantic. There he tickled his fancy and snapped shots of one and all reveling madly in the streets and by-ways. 

 Enchanted Forest was the 2019 theme of carnival and although sorta similar to 2017’s Gods and Goddesses it had a distinctly sylvan aspect of junior Ents all loaming about midsummer’s dream trying to get a piece of the action or at least a scintillating selfie outta the deal.    

What more can I say except don’t miss, “The Three Flower  Fairies Get Dressed and Waltz down the Street” the following blog post that recounts the exploits of the lovely trio as they wriggle into their form-fitting flower fantasies. 

                                                           Photo by Iory Allison

Gold Finger body shop, alley beside West End Salon & Spa where full body transplants are provided at reasonable prices. Who knew “six pack abs” were not the exclusive product of Muscle Beach? 



                                                                    Photo by Iory Allison  

The entrance to the epicenter of enchantment. At the big old tree stump, take a right and dive into the relentless flood of lust and desire   



                                                                         Photo by Iory Allison 

Do you suppose Oberon was as alluring?  I’ll bet this fetching fellow knows, “… a bank where the wild thyme blows, where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,” and I for one would like to join him there. 



                                                                 Photo by Iory Allison 

Yes, the fairy boy on the left is actually of Elfin stock and the buzzing beauty beside him is a flurry of phantasmagorical charm   



                                                              Photo by Iory Allison 

As you can see from the glint in her eye, this Wicken Priestess proffers an irresistible invitation to join her dancing circle. But watch out for the apple, it has already been munched by a bunch a’ folks who grew horns and tails which, come to think of it, may be rather festive.  



                                                              Photo by Iory Allison 

Ranger Robbie takes the measure of two hunky unicorns who take it all in stride knowing they can only be mounted by a pure virgin. One look at R R tells them he ain’t pure of heart so forget the Smoky the Bear hat, the Uni’s have your number, Bub! 

The only problem is I don’t have the Ranger’s number; ground, mobile, Twitter, Mitter or otherwise… Ok, Ok, Iory – Ranger Robbie ain’t grabbin’ your package so let’s get on with show!   



Photo by Iory Allison 

Here they are (L to R), Frankie the Fighting Iris Fairy, Taffy The Lustful Lilly Fairy and Toddie The Naughty Nasturtium Fairy  performing the Pas de Trois from “Three Flew Over Coco’s Nest” This impromptu performance in the alley behind Napi’s, landed them in the Ptown slammer after the house of Chanel brought suit for purloining “their” Haute Couture. However, this heinous slander was disproved by none other than Misia Sert  (Google her if you doubt Misia’s authority) who declared -in a thick French accent – “Hooey! Those gowns are the supreme creations of Rodney Vanderwarker!”   

P.S. for the full picture see, “Three Flower Fairies Get Dressed and Waltz Down the Street” the following Glamour Galore Blog post 



                                                                     Photo by Iory Allison 

A sly smile puts wind in the sails of captain Cutie   



                                                                  Photo by Iory Allison 

Three six packs to go please, don’t bag’em I’ll tak’em as they are!  



Photo by Iory Allison 

Now what lies has this forest gnome been telling? “Dick-Dock?” “Never heard of it.” – I’ll bet. 



Photo by Iory Allison 

I like the quiet dignity of these two friends 



Photo by Iory Allison 

These boys put new meaning to the term “nearly naked.”



Photo by Iory Allison 

I know just what she means – “This is Art! Pay attention!!”  


Photo by Iory Allison 

A red tie affair with The Lion King and companion mopping up the sauce beside them



Photo by Iory Allison

What did you say your name is? Sheer Delight? Why am I not surprised?



Photo by Iory Allison 

“Mother-F…ing gym bunnies follow me all around town. How ‘bout stepping out of the spot- light for half a minute and give a girl a chance!”  



Photo by Iory Allison  

Pure and simple, simple purity and cute as a button, the rainbow unicorn sweet-heart. Love the blouse, looks like a Ptown painting.



Photo by Iory Allison 

Topiary goes tropical and don’tcha just luv the guy with the way-big mushroom head? Is he the promise of things to come?   



Photo by Iory Allison 

And do you suppose the Lion King will get what he’s after? Apparently, the Queen of the Forest has cast her roving eye on another scrumptious morsel – for her eyes only.  


Photo by Iory Allison

OMG! It’s Sammy Davis, packing Jr.


Click Brer Fox, if you dare, and see the whole show unfold


The Three Flower Fairies

The Three Flower Fairies, T2F2 ,get Dressed and Waltz down the Street, adding sparkle and pizza to  the proceeding in the Enchanted Forest, Ptown carnival 2019

It is to be remembered that Mr. Iory is foremost a writer of fiction and as such is challenged by the confines of cold hard reality, so when encountering the silly giggles of T2F2 he casts caution to the winds and flies like a kite longing for the string to break.

Photo by Iory Allison

The Pilgrim’s pride, stands tall  against a polished blue sky, where the faint wisps of morning mists are burnt away by a full blast of August heat. Here mid-summer madness will put the boil into  Provincetown Carnival and  a festive spectacle will unfold like an exotic flower.

In the long reaching shadow of Ptown’s historic tower, on the edge of the enchanted forest, a Gay and festive little cottage shelters three fairies who are not quite what they seem. But hark! What visions these sprites bring twinkling on their iridescent wings.  Enchantment takes us beyond mortal limitations, through the magic looking glass. There we can gaze with wonder at a magnificent transfiguration.   

Photo by Iory Allison

The cottage of the three flower fairies where the rainbow flag gaily proclaims a portal between worlds, stargate to the stage of life where a drama of fluid forms reveals unheard of possibilities.



Photo by Iory Allison

On a pirate map X may mark the spot but at the fairy cottage a dragonfly will suffice.



Photo by Iory Allison

The two major culprits already on the morph, Franky and Toddie (bottom to top). Here the Queen Supreme seems serene, but no he is only a tired fella resting from a year’s labor of madly stitching his creations, an exhausting trial that left the poor dear panting.  And now we tear the veil asunder to reveal the process of putting on the “mask.”




Photo by Iory Allison

Franky, the Fighting Iris Fairy thinks lovely thoughts and begins to fly 



Photo by Iory Allison

Toddie, the Naughty Nasturtium Fairy casts sultry gazes but watch out – this one’s a caution, sorta like the sirens. Strap yourself to a handy mast and stuff your ears so as not to hear her compelling cries not to mention those eyes!



Photo by Iory Allison

Taffy, the Lusty Lilly Fairy has something in mind too. Something along the line of, “Gather round me ye hearties!” or was that Long John Silver’s line? 



Photo by Iory Allison

Obviously, “three little girls from school” they are no longer. And yes, they sometimes tend towards ribald vulgarity. It’s probably the effect of the net stockings.  But… put on a dress and presto their sting is disguised ‘neath layers of frothy frills like sugar sweetening strong tea.  



Photo by Iory Allison

The White Billy Goat or Lady-in-Waiting, is a big fan and needs one too after witnessing the three flower fairies, cavorting about and turning up the heat. He’s minding the dogs who have seen it all before and find all these antics a bit of a bore.



Photo by Iory Allison

In order of precedent, the Fighting Iris Fairy wriggles into her gown. What her consort The Naughty Nasturtium Fairy is up to is anyone’s guess but it looks rather suspicious.




Photo by Iory Allison

Returning the favor. It turns out the under-pinning’s of flower finery are in need of special attention and the innuendo above was uncalled for. But how can you not suspect this bouquet of beauties to be up-to something off color while donning every color of the rainbow? 



Photo by Iory Allison

And talk about gaggle, this knot of concentration is needed if Miss Taffy is ever to be morphed into the Lusty Lilly Fairy. Some of us are challenged by the fluidity of contemporary personal identities and why not? When was the last time you sprouted petals and wings? To quote a friend, “This is Art! Pay attention!!” 



Photo by Iory Allison




Photo by Iory Allison



Photo by Iory Allison 

Gleeful enthusiasm  


Photo by Iory Allison

Primping when leaving well enough alone is too lonely to consider



Photo by Iory Allison

The proper mode of application. Don’tcha just luv the honey bee dangling on his brim, the “tats” are way cool too.  



Photo by Iory Allison

When a Fairy earns his wings a certain sense of satisfaction suffuses her demeanor



Photo by Iory Allison

The lineup, in the garden of earthly delights, climbing the steps leading to the Enchanted Forest. 



Photo by Iory Allison

A smile of satisfaction rewards long hours of toil. Franky, the Fighting Iris Fairy, has done it all and then some, creating T2F2. Brava Diva!



Photo by Iory Allison

There he goes again, flashing that come-hither look. Better deflect your gaze into Perseus’ polished shield lest the Green Fairy gets you rock hard.



Photo by Iory Allison

The simple joys of transformation, but what personal pronouns should we use?



Photo by Iory Allison

Here he is, the White Billy Goat erstwhile Lady-in-Waiting who has decided to eschew gender fluidity and go for species fluidity. As you can see his furry Minnie skirt does not diminish his horniness. He is, however, still waiting for T2F2 to finish buzzing about in the bushes and get on with the show.



Photo by Iory Allison

The Flowers leave the forest to walk the streets and join the parade 



Photo by Iory Allison

Don’tcha just love it when a man wags his tail? The White Billy Goat, who is not so gruff, escorts his bouquet of beauties down the lane.



Photo by Iory Allison

When the champagne cork pops on a bright sunny day in summer, rainbow colors saturate the festivities and hot-house flowers get out of their beds and run down the street giggling.


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