Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Aging, Good taste, and Comfortable Shoes

Looking over any given group of people, one thing comes to mind - do these people have a mirror? Especially women. What were they thinking when they got dressed this morning?

There are the women in their 40's and 50's who are convinced that dressing like a 20 something makes them attractive and younger  - Not! Also the ladies who try to fit their size 12 body into a size 8 dress. Hint- you cannot get 2 tons of fertilizer into a 2 ton truck. It all comes down to math and physics.

And, what's with wedding attire? Years ago I was appalled by the guests attending nuptials who showed up in sundresses. These days I just hope they are wearing shoes. Their clothes, or lack thereof, make me look like the church lady in my attempt to dress appropriately. 

If a woman dares to wear very tall heels, she damn well should be able to walk on them without looking like someone wobbling on stilts. Shoes being referred to as 'comfortable' does not in any way mean they are frumpy. Anyone with good sense would want to wear comfortable shoes.

I don't care what anyone says, yoga pants are only designed for those who can pull them off. Everyone else should . . . pull them off and do away with them. Large women just need to accept it and move on. Let me rephrase that - some women feel they rock in yoga pants. They are proud of their rounded figures. For those, I say - You go girl. When you have the attitude, wear it. I wish I had the strength of character to be a force of nature and show my curves, my flab, and my bumps, but alas I do not. 

Older women should avoid looking like Dame Edna with too much blue eye shadow and bright clothing. Speaking of age, very few, OK almost no one can look like Jane Fonda, unless they are Jane Fonda. Face it, she never ages. 

As hard as we try, as much as we wish, there is no denial - we all get older. Suddenly we find ourselves a bit baggy in places, larger in others, and wrinkled in many more. We must accept reality, make the most of it and do our best to age gracefully. 

The best we can do is find clothes that are comfortable, attractive, and say "I feel good". Today's fashion offers plenty of appropriate choices for those of us who are mature. And, for the record, there is a difference between 'Mature' and 'Old'. Even a teenager can be mature, if they know better, show responsibility, make good choices. 

We should not think of aging as being doomed to SAS shoes and the walk in bath tub. "Looking one's age" should not be the kiss of death. Rather it should be the talisman of grace and good taste. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Joggers and Headlights, Oh My!

 When friends of mine talk about  "over sleeping" and missing their morning alarm, I cannot relate. It is hard for me to oversleep due to my two little alarm clocks - Ellie and Marshall. Every morning at 5:30, it is as if their little Mickey Mouse watches go off. If I am not awake Ellie will start nudging me, as much to solicit me to scratch her face as to wake me up. Marshall, on the other hand, will climb on top of me and gently pat me with is left paw, as to say "Let's go!"

When I can sleep late, it becomes a negotiation. I will scratch Ellie's face hoping to mollify her enough that she will settle down and nap. If I ignore Marshall long enough, he will crawl under the covers in defeat and go back to sleep. But the stand off is short lived and shortly we are up and about. Time to get dressed and go out for our morning constitutional. 

With the days being shorter and dawn coming a bit later every morning, it is now totally dark when we leave the house. There are 2 choices for our walk - the street that runs in front of my place and the street (more of an alley) that runs behind it. Each carries its own perils, depending on the time of day. Getting out at 6 am or later, means that others will also be out with their pooches. The lady with her large Sheppard mix and the distinguished looking old man with his well behaved Jack Russell will be out and about on their morning walk out back. Any time around 7:00 - 7:15, the older gentlemen 2 doors down will have his Ellie, an older Australian Sheppard mix, out front.

Usually, we are out earlier so we do not have to negotiate these obstacles. Don't get me wrong, I am social and these neighbors are very friendly. Unfortunately, Marshall, with his Napoleon complex will take offense that these other canines are also taking their constitutional. With all of his 10 inch height (he is a full size Yorkshire Terrier, and no, that is not an oxymoron) he will channel his inner canine, bark, and lunge on his leash as if he is going to take these interlopers down. Any person familiar with canine behavior will see his wildly wagging tail and understand his ruse. 

So each morning I must make a strategic decision - the front or the back. Lately, we have been out early enough to take a nice stroll down the front sidewalk free of any canine encounters. However, just when I think there will be peace in the morning, there is a new threat - early morning joggers. Being pitch black dark they are wearing head lamps as they come down the street.

So the game is afoot. If I see them first, which can be difficult given they usually are coming up behind me, I can start telling Marshall, "It's OK, it's OK Marshall keep calm." If neither of us are surprised by a jogger, this will usually pacify him. However, this all becomes an issue when we are both surprised. I doubt any of the runners feel threatened, given Marshall's small stature. Often I doubt they can even see his small self as he barks loudly in the dark. I, on the other hand, am mortified that I have such an unruly pet. 

Then this can become a game of cat and mouse. If I see the jogger's light bouncing in the dark, I can manage to be standing beside one of the parked cars, shielding the jogger from Marshall's eyesight. Another strategy is to turn into a neighbor's yard, making my way to the back, all the while steering Marshall's attention away from the jogger. 

All in all, what should be a relaxing way to start my morning can be very stressful. Often my next door  neighbor leaves for work during this bewitching hour. If his departure coincides with our return, Marshall will also bark loudly at him. However, he understands dogs. Instead of trying to avoid Marshall, he will approach my unruly terrier, stoop down and offer his hand. Marshall will immediately stop his barking, wag his tail, and happily accept his kind words and scratches on his head. We exchange pleasantries, I apologize for Marshall's behavior, and we go on our ways.

In contrast to Marshall's deportment, Ellie is always friendly, usually quiet with her little stubby tail wagging as hard as it can. I doubt she cares about Marshall's antics. She is simply trying to solicit attention, as if to say, "Look at me, please pet me, just ignore him". Her unruly black hair (keep in mind Toto was also a Cairn Terrier) makes her look like a street urchin as opposed to Marshall's flowing grey and tan coat. With all his antics, Ellie feels neglected. It is as if she is saying, "Don't mind him, he is just full of 'sound and fury, signifying nothing'."

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Unclaimed Delivery

 I'm embarrassed to say, I still do not know my neighbors well. Oh, I know their names, basically what they do, but other than that - peanuts. I'll confess it is my fault and I should be ashamed on myself. 

Last week when I came home, I noticed a box, the size and shape of those of flowers come in, sitting outside my neighbor's door. "What a nice thought," I said to myself, "Coming home to fresh flowers." 

The following morning as I left for work I noticed the box still there. No doubt she will get them later this day, I thought. I bet she was already home when they were delivered yesterday. We've all done that. Who checks their front door after they have come in for the evening? Can't say I do.

When I came in from running errands the following day, the box was still there. Later when I took the pups out my back door for their afternoon walk, I made a note to knock on my neighbors door and tell her about the box. Then I noticed her car was not where she usually parks. Note to self - check with her tomorrow. 

Friday, I left for work, and  the box were still there. Since her car was parked out back, it dawned me, unless she had company, she rarely used her front door. So I sent her a text. "Noticed there is a box on your front stoop, know you always use your back door, figured you hadn't seen it."

About an hour later I got a text back from her, "Thanks so much."

It wasn't long before there was another text. "The box is for you, just had the wrong address."

I texted back, "Thanks, I just wasn't nosy enough to check the name on the box."

Immediately she responded with a laughing emoji.

That evening when I got home, the box was in front of my door. Sure enough the label showed my name but my neighbor's address. And, it was a box of flowers - "fresh" flowers.  Well, fresh as flowers could be 4 days old (all the while sitting on a stoop in warm weather). As I opened the box, I feared what I would find. They were impeccably packed with the blooms carefully wrapped so they would not get messed up in shipment. They were in a nice water vase, that was sealed around the stems so it would not spill. Well, a nice empty vase that was.

Miraculously, the flowers had survived, a bit worse for the wear (or neglect), but still intact. I cut their stems and filled the vase with water. As I placed them on the table, I thought, what a conundrum? If I had been a nosy neighbor, I would have gotten the flowers the second day I noticed them on the stoop. But, why in the world would I have done that, it wasn't my business. 

Does this mean, after a package has been left, unclaimed, I should check the address? I think not. If it looks to be a box of flowers? Maybe?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I Pine For Normal

I cannot speak for everyone, but I pine for normal. Never did I think I would miss being in a crowded restaurant or standing in line. I am tired of checking the paper daily to see where we stand on the COVID mortality chart.  Suddenly being first is not desirable. 

I'm ready to go to the Cimmaplex to see a block buster - let me reword that, at this point I would enjoy seeing about any movie. I promise not to get frustrated standing in line for popcorn (served up once again in an open bucket). I miss not being able to try on clothes in a store because the changing rooms are closed. Taking into consideration the environmental plight we are now in, I wish to never see a single serving container ever.  

Never in my life have I not been able to escape my reality. Before this God forsaken pandemic, just knowing I could buy a ticket, at any time, and go just about anywhere in the world to run away was a mental salvation. By plane or train there was an out. Maybe I did not have the disposable funds to afford such a trip, but I knew it was possible. 

I miss seeing people's faces. Wearing a mask prevents us from showing any emotion. Often I find myself smiling then realizing that the show of pleasure is lost in the face covering we all wear. I miss friendly hugs and shaking hands. It will be nice to know that every time I have a cough or cold, not everyone will silently being asking, "Is it COVID?"

I am tired of the world being 6 feet apart. I never thought I would say it, but I yearn for crowds. Deserted sidewalks and empty queues are depressing. Seeing small businesses closed and realizing many will never reopen is terribly sad, knowing that the hard work, investment, and dreams of those owners is lost.

Before February of 2020, I knew the definition of an "epidemic" but was unsure exactly what the term "pandemic" meant. Now, I wish it were a word not heard in every newscast.

I realize in the past, we were lucky to avoid pandemics. Polio, Measles, and Smallpox were eradicated before they could cause a world wide blight. Citizens were appreciative of the hard work and talent of the researchers that worked for years before coming up with a viable vaccine to eradicate these scourges. Most people of my generation sport a scar on our upper left arm, a sign of the Smallpox vaccination we were able to get as children. Yet, now when modern medicine has allowed the production of such vaccines in less than a year, enough people are questioning its efficacy that this modern miracle cannot produce enough immunity to halt the pandemic. 

I shudder to think where I would (or would not) be now if my parents had questioned these vaccines. How many friends and family would I never have known due to the mortality of these diseases. Perhaps I could have been a victim myself. 100 years ago, the world was attacked by the Spanish Flu. But now a majority get an annual flu shot. Does the general public realize if enough of us did not get this simple vaccine every year, it may be the flu shutting down our world as we know it.

COVID is not black or white, red or blue, it is an equal opportunity illness. Yet, by simply going to the neighborhood pharmacy, doctor's office, or maybe even the pop up clinic in the parking lot of the local mall, in a matter of weeks we could be free again. We need to ask ourselves, is it worth continuing this madness due to a false premise? In the 1960's would we question scientific truths and believe the scuttle butt we heard over the backyard fence?

Reality is that it will not go away on its own without taking the lives of 100's of thousands more. Every citizen in the United States has the ability to do our part to end this blight. The question is, do we choose to free ourselves and our neighbors or continue the madness out of ignorance and pride? 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Barbie Still Makes the list

With Christmas just around the corner, I saw where the 2021 "Toy of the Year Awards" were named. Drum Roll Please!

They are:

  • Star Wars: The Child Animatronic Edition Toy (ie Yoda)
  • LEGO Star Wars The Razor Crest
  • Barbie Color Reveal
  • LEGO Super Mario Bowser's Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set
  • PAW Patrol Dino Patroller
  • LEGO Ideas Grand Piano
  • PLAYMOBIL Back To The Future DeLorean

As usual there are nods to plastic and well known brands (LEGO, Barbie, Star Wars). These names date me. Barbie debuted in 1959 (the year I was born). LEGO was introduced in 1932 (the year my mother was born), and the first Star Wars movie was released as I graduated from high School (May 1977).

But, showing that some things never change, but evolve. I was heartened to see that the Creative Toy for 2021 was: Crayola Crayons  (24 box) with the colors representing skin tones from across the world. This is brilliant. And thankfully, not something as I feared - edible crayons, each a Skittles' flavor.

FWIW, the 2020 Toy of the Year was the L.O.L. Surprise! I would have no clue as to what this is, except for my granddaughters.

The National Toy Hall of Fame was introduced in 1998. The  first class included 17 toys: Barbie, Crayola Crayon, Erector Set, Etch-A-Sketch, Frisbee, Hula Hoop, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Marbles, Monopoly, Play-Doh, Radio Flyer wagon, Roller Skates, Teddy Bear, Tinkertoys, View-master, Duncan Yo-Yo. Of these 17,  I had everyone with exception of roller skates!

The Toys of the Year for most of my childhood were:
  • 1965 James Bond Aston Martin die-cast car (Didn't have one, but would love to)
  • 1966 Action Man
  • 1967 Spirograph (I had and loved)
  • 1968 Sindy (I clueless)
  • 1969 Hot Wheels Cars (I played with my brothers.)
  • 1970 Sindy (I'm still clueless)
  • 1971 Katie Kopykat Writing Doll
  • 1972 Plasticraft Modelling Kits
  • 1973 Mastermind - Board Game
It just shows that something never change, however, like fast food chains, franchises even dominate the world of toys.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

What, No Tan!

Continuing my education in pigments and tone, tints and tones I read through the color recipe book. Rather than a cup of this and a pinch of that, it was so many parts and a speck. After trying to measure parts and specks I was totally frustrated. How large is a part? How small a speck? Then Geronimo! At the very back of the book was a clear plastic "Color Mixing Grid".

Now that that issue has been solved, onto the other issue - the basic colors I need to create any of these 390 unique "colors". "Permanent Blue"? Is that the "True Blue" I have. "Burnt Umber" - check, "Naples Yellow" - check. "Alizarin Crimson", not so much.

Out of the 30 base colors one needs, I have 12. Now comes the quandary, do I take the 40 or so colors I do have and try to see which color comes closest to the any given true base color. This may take some time. Will "Hooker Green" do for "Permanent Green"? Perhaps the pieces of my work will just be a tint, tone, or hue off. 

Of course I haven't even thought about venturing into the Neon tones or Metallic colors. All of this makes me think - how elementary would my work be if I only used ROYGBIV plus black, brown, and white. Thinking more about it, my work requires a lot of Gray (which of the 7 different "grays" should I choose?). And Tan, there are only . . . Wait, there is no Tan in the book.  12 "Browns" but no Tawny or Tan.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Neon Carrot or Medium Cadmium Orange

 Back in "Miss" Nancy's Kindergarten, I was only allowed the 16 Crayola Crayon Box. My parents did not buy my pitch for the box of 24 or, God Forbid, the Holy Grail - the box of 120 Crayons (with the sharpner). Of course, all we really needed was the basic 8,  ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet). Well included in there was Black and in lieu of Indigo, there was Brown.

With my new hobby of painting, I find myself constantly trying to get the right color, with the right tint and hue. What I mixed for the light edge of that peach colored rose petal, just had too much orange. And, I learned the hard way gray is not just gray. There is "green" gray, "brown" gray,  "light" gray, and "dark" gray just to name a few. So I decided to hedge my bets and invest in a coloring guide entitled "Color Mixing Recipes". 

Reading the first chapter on tone and shades, harmony and psychology, chroma and compliments, I realized I was way over my head. All I wanted was to mix a perfect peach. Looking at the 390 different colors, my mind was blown. Maybe that box of 120 Crayons was more serious than I thought. (And I just wanted it for bragging rights over my friend Frances, who had the box of 64.)

A prime example is "Ochre Red" #314. The recipe of which is 2 parts Naples Yellow, 1 part Burnt Sienna, and 1 speck of Cadmium Blue. A page or 2 earlier I found "Moth" #294 which is 6 parts White, 4 parts Yellow Ochre, and 1 part Ultramarine Blue. And, then there is #135, "Lapis" which is concocted from mixing 3 parts Permanent Blue, 1 part White, and 1 speck of Alizarin Crimson. No wonder I couldn't get the color peach correct, I had no idea it may have been "1 speck"  of Crimson (or whatever) that made the difference. BTW what is a "speck"? And while we're at it, how big is a cubic? But I digress.

Looking through the index, I found there are 5 different "Pansy" colors, 2 "Pelicans", 4 different "Seafoams" (including 1 sub color), and 15 "Oranges." Hearing that Dorothy awoke to find the witch was dead and everything was in color, now has a whole new meaning. (15 Oranges - seriously?)

So my work is cut out for me. Now in trying to come up with a perfect peach, I am bogged down in 3 different Peach recipes (Blossom Pink Peach, Cream Peach, and Pink Peach). Deciding on "Pink Peach" I need to mix 10 parts White and 1 part Cadmium Orange. After a quick Google search I learned Cadmium is a silvery white color, so I assume Cadmium Orange is a silvery white orange?

Perhaps, I should leave the acrylics for the grown ups and invest in that box of 120 Crayons. After all, if I cannot recreate the image I have in my mind on canvas in 120 colors then I seriously need help. However, looking over the chart of the 120 colors included in that box, I notice "Granny Smith Green". If I remember correctly in the 1964 box, that was simply "Light Olive". And "Piggy Pink"? I'll stick with "Cadmium Yellow", "Cerulean Blue" and "Phthalo Red". I may not know what I am talking about, but at least I will sound serious. "Macaroni and Cheese" light orange? Seriously? 

Friday, September 17, 2021

An Order to the Universe

We are now entering the time of purgatory. Note it is only Mid-September. The Dogwoods are still green, with maybe a tinge of pink. The stores of full of crates of orange, white, and green pumpkins. The candy aisles in the stores are over flowing with jumbo size bags of treats. Big box stores sport shelves topped with everything inflated from Dracula and his Coach, a Giant Pumpkin complete with a Ghost (albeit friendly) coming out of the top, Ghouls with Glowing Eyes, and Witches Stirring their Brews. 

We are still 6 weeks away from All Hallow's Eve, and the world seems to be all about orange. Or so it seems. However, just a day or so ago I saw green and red. Say it's not so, not Christmas. Not yet! 

But alas, once again, we can have no peace. If the yule tide season starts showing its face in September, do we accept that Christmas consumes a quarter of the year. 

I'll admit the dirty dishes from Thanksgiving have just been put in the dishwasher when I start pulling out my Christmas Tree stand. "Black" Friday means "shopping" to me. However, that is only shopping for a Christmas tree. As a lapsed Episcopalian, I know I should hold out, restrain myself, until Christmas Eve when it is truly time to decorate the yuletide tree. (And keep it up until epiphany.) However when I consider the investment I have made over the years in ornaments and the time it takes to properly trim the tree, is it worth the effort for less than 4 or 5 weeks? In one word - No. The time to enjoy a trimmed tree is however many days there are between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

In my mind, September through December is a triathlon of holidays. And those 3 holidays should all have their moment to shine, all in their proper time . . . and proper order. Halloween, the "pagan" celebration on the eve of All Saints is supposed to come first.  3 or 4 weeks later, Thanksgiving should follow as a day of thanks, a celebration of family and friends, not to mention the feast. Then a month or so later, we celebrate Christmas.

As an aside, some feel Christmas is a lost soul. The day that is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ, has gotten lost in the expectation of the Jolly Ol'e Elf, irreverent songs (ie such as "Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer"), and commercialism on steroids. In my mind, Christmas is what one makes it. For practicing Christians, it is still all about the birth of the Christ Child, a time of carols, the creche, and services. For most of us, it is the joy of friends and family as we gather together. It is a time of remembrance of past Christmases, seeing the wonder in a child's eyes, and the exchange of gifts. And, last but not least, to many, it is a time of parties and frivolity. To each their own. But, I digress.

The bottom line is that the holidays are what one makes of them. It our choice what and how we celebrate. But, whatever one chooses, or not, there is an order to the universe and that includes the Gregorian calendar. It doesn't matter how one looks at it, October comes first followed by November, and finally December.

As an aside Hanukkah falls in here also. However, I am embarrassed to say I do not know enough about the holiday to comment on it. Perhaps some research is in the cards.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Magic of September

 September is my favorite month of the year. While most folks yearn for spring that breaks through the winter doldrums, I long for September.  To me, it brings to mind the first crisp days of cooler weather. OK, I know that these few glorious days are sprinkled among the remaining dog days of summer. But still, it gives me hope.

Like the songs about the month:  "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire, "September Morn" by Neil Diamond, "It might as Well Rain until September" by Carol King, and "I'll See You in September" by The Happenings, and "September Song" by Frank Sinatra, it is special time.

The leaves of the dogwood tree show a faint blush of red that professes the oncoming change of color. Footsteps crackle on the brown fallen leaves under foot. Rakes are pulled from their summer sheds to sweep up the leaves and pine straw that have started to fall. Golden rod brings a bright color to the edges of the fields. As much as I enjoyed the freedom of the summer break I was happy to get back into the cadence of school. There were the reunions with old friends I hadn't seen in months. Since we always started school in August, by September we were settled into a routine of new classes, text books, and book bags. 

Even with the welcome of cooler days, in September it was still warm enough to float down the river. In high school, when classes let out, my friends and I would change clothes, grab our black inner tubes, and coolers and head for the black water of the Edisto. As we floated along with the slow current, solving all the world's problems, the leaves of the cypress trees in the swamp were starting to turn a copper color.

At High Acres, the air was already crisp. There was the fragrance of apples in the orchard. The vistas were starting to show subtle bursts of color as the green faded. The horses were a bit more frisky in the chilly morning air.

From my high school days, it is the memories of football games, stolen kisses, and sweaters. Talk among my friends and me turned to plans for the fall dances - Homecoming, Sadie Hawkins, and Cotillion.  There was much discussion about possible dates and dresses. 

During my college years, September meant we were once again on our own, out of the prying eyes of parents. There were the new roommates in old dorms, new classes with tenured professors, and the freedom of our youth. In Charleston, the onslaught of tourists had faded and it was if we had the town back to our own. Or, at least the (then ) 4 square blocks that made up our campus, bordered by George, St. Phillips, Calhoun, and Coming streets.

And, best of all, the long shadows are there in the afternoon, giving everything a wondrous glow. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

New Math

 With most in my generation, I am trying to do New Math with an Old Math mind. All that said, I'm pretty sure 2 x 10 still equals 20. And, Pi is still 3.14159265359 and is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle.

All this brings to mind age. Is 1 still 1 or is it 2. I turned 62 this year. Does that mean I am enjoying my 62nd year of my life? Oh, no! Insult to injury, in truth I am now in my 63rd year. Let's do the math. I was born in 1959. Last time I checked (in Old Math Terms) 2021-1959 equals 62. 

So I have achieved 62 years of age, which honestly means I am now in my 63rd year.  But, by God, I am not 63 yet, therefore I will take a victory lap and enjoy my 62 years.  63 can wait, unless I go back to the future. 

But, as "they" say, 'Age is just a state of mind.' I find little solace in that given this most likely was said by some 30 something trying to assuage an elder attempting new math. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Where were you that September Morning?

Of all our genres of American music Country Music often best reflects life. It is more than just songs about unrequited love, the loss of one's old pickup truck or juke boxes and bars. As we all reflect on 9/11/01, I think Alan Jackson said it best. "Where were you when the world stopped turnin' that September day?"

I remember I was standing in the judge's chamber's galley watching the 2nd plane hit the towers. But more importantly, I remember where I was the night before. Little did I know that my birthday dinner that night with my immediate family was the end of our innocence. Much like 12/7 and Pearl Harbor, 9/11 is an indelible memory we will live with for generations to come.

Just like anyone alive at the time remembers where they were when they learned that Pearl Harbor had been bombed and, then years later, that president Kennedy had been shot, I clearly remember the dinner that night. One of our daughter's announced that she had been accepted into the Duke TIP program and my husband retold some humorous conversation he had at work. Both these, and other parts of the evening, come to mind. I had no way of foreseeing that that dinner was the end of life as we knew it. 

As a child, I can remember both of my parents telling me their memories of both 12/7/41 and 11/22/63. I never thought I would have my "Pearl Harbor" moment. The scene of the smoke billowing from those 2 buildings into that brilliant blue September sky is an indelible memory. The stories of families who lost one or more loved ones in New York, Pennsylvania or DC, are still haunting.

There were almost 3000 families directly effected by the events of that day (and 1000's more due to the casualties of the war that followed). There was an understandable  outrage. But since the spring of 2020, in our country alone, we are losing an average of 1500 souls a day due to this pandemic. In my mind it is another 9/11 moment, just one we have lived in a slow rolling nightmare for almost 18 months as opposed to the scary hours of one morning. Let us keep this in mind. 

In 2001 we all united, the red and the blue together, almost into a shade of purple, to revenge this assault on our fellow citizens. Everyone was appalled at the idea of this attack and loss of life. This country was joined together to ensure we never experienced such an incursion again. Yet, 20 years later we cannot unite behind the loss of over 659,000 of our fellow citizens, when we have the ability to stop this madness. True, a terrorist attack on our country and the effects of an international pandemic can be seen as 2 different things. But truly are they?

Friday, September 10, 2021

Send in the Clowns

 A birthday is a celebration. Sure, but in reality it is another check on the tote board of life. Don't get me wrong I am not trying to be maudlin, but this is reality. Face it, few people live a Hallmark Card life. Thankfully I am not one of them. Should our lives be all cheery, happy, and full of fun we would gain little and learn even less. 

Looking back, my life has been made rich by the trials and tribulations I have endured. Sure, the good times have been dear and great fun. Time with family and friends is invaluable, the joy of life. But more often it is the lessons learned and the difficulties overcome that build character. And character makes us venture more and makes our lives richer. I often say nothing ventured, nothing gained.

This day can also be a time of reflection, a time to review the past year, to take stock, a time to plan for the year to come. Yada yada yada. Or it can be just another of the 365 days of the year (well 366 in a leap year.) It is what we make of it.

I truly believe with life, you can actually have your cake and eat it too - but only if that is your choice. Sitting aside and watching the parade of life go by will get you no where. To truly live, we must fly on the great trapeze, walk the tight rope, and join the clowns in the car.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

To Friend or Not

 I'm not wedded to Facebook. It is not the first thing I check in the morning, nor the last I peruse before going to sleep. Sure, I'll post a picture here or there. Since any image can be cut and pasted from a Facebook post and I'm pretty protective of my photos and paintings, I am careful with what I share. I happened to notice yesterday that I have 1,700 "Friends". Seriously, I don't know that many people. 

Just because someone sends me a "Friend Request" does not mean I am going to accept. Before doing so, I always check to see what mutual friends we have. When I see that there is only one mutual "Friend" and I do not know them, I pass. As much as I love excitement in my life, a stalker is not in the plan. 

So then I question the request. What is the impetus behind it? Was a post of mine shared and interested this perspective "Friend"? Could that interest turn into an action of commerce? I tread lightly. I don't look through the person's page. I either accept the request, deny the request, or leave it to 'marinade' before making a decision either way.

But back to the 1700. (Even that comment sounds like Mrs. Astor's list of 400. Making or not making her list could solidify one's social status, or doom them to a life of only invitations  to second rate events.)  Seriously, considering colleagues I met at various jobs throughout my career, current friends, former and present neighbors, college friends, parents of friends, folks that share some of my interests, I still don't count up 1700. Some rainy day, when I am bored out of my mind, am not motivated to do much, I'll just delve into the list. Just out of curiosity, who are these people?

Several weeks ago, I realized that there are  a dozen or so "Friends" who are no longer with us. In good conscious, how can I "Unfriend" someone who has passed on? 

Speaking of "Unfriending", the ultimate diss, I'll admit I have taken this drastic measure with several people I did not want "Following" me. I have nothing to hide, I just tire of their constant "Likes", emojis and obnoxious comments. If someone has time to  comment to most posts, especially with banal responses, they have more time on their hands than interests in their lives. They deserve being (secretly) sent to purgatory. Ah, the power of the "Unlike" button.

But it is nice to keep up with old friends and buddies. We are all so spread out, so into our own lives, that I can think of no other way to see what is going on. It is always a pleasant surprise when someone from my past takes time to "Reach out and touch" me. 

Bottom line, if I don't comment to a comment of yours, don't take it personally. I try to only comment when I have something to say or add to the conversation. A simple "Like" means I have read the post and agree. 

So with all this, I need to finish this short tome (yes, I realize that is an oxymoron) so I can post it and get on with my day. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Whatever happened to the Metrecal Lunch Clubs?

For most of my life I have battled my weight. The exception being the few years I was "Big as the side of a house" as my father would say. During that time of my life, I just went into denial. Suddenly clothes were being sized bigger, as in what was an 8 was now a 12 (and later a 16). Airlines greatly reduced the size of their seats - to the point that a normal person was uncomfortable.

Reality set in when I saw myself on a video. It was not pretty. In fact, it was ugly. No, let me rephrase that, it was tragic and frightening. After 3 or 4 years of getting my weight under control, I emerged at a decent weight and new self esteem.

The scales are my nemesis. Early on I realized that weighing first thing every morning was a way to truly stay on course. Whatever the almighty scales revealed, I consumed accordingly. Some folks think one should NEVER weigh every morning. To each their own - whatever works.

Recently, I looked back on weight loss plans that have come and gone over the years. Like many other things in life - dieting is mystical at best, hysterical at worse.

I can remember diet foods and drinks, that came and went, promising weight loss. There was Metrecal (circa early 1960's), Slim-Fast (circa 1977), Tab (1963), Carnation Slender (1964), Ayds (1941), and Figurines (1974), to name a few.

In the early 1990's the fad was the low fat diet. I can remember eating and entire Entenmann's Coffee Cake with no remorse or guilt. After all it was totally fat free. I just denied the 2500 calories. Someone had to be doing drugs (good drugs) when they invented that idea. Unfortunately, as many diets before it, it failed.

Even so, I still think Julia Childs was brilliant. One of her quotes was: “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

There was the water diet, then Drs said that too much water caused bloat. Vegetarian dieting was in voque until the low carb / high protein (as in meat) came along. "Limit your food intake to 1 meal a day and one healthy snack" was followed by "eat several small meals a day". Drink weight loss supplements, until, Oops, diet drinks and supplements contain chemicals that make your body crave carbs. The bottom line is - if you cannot find a diet you can live with just wait, one will come along.

And then there were the machines of torture.

All this rambling came to mind this morning after I stepped off the scales. This is insane - this all consuming concern over our weight. More often this is over vanity not health. I need to just stay healthy and eat right. Well maybe, but I am caught between "I am old enough to enjoy what foods I want, weight be damned." and "What drastic diet can I use to get into a size smaller this fall?"

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Scourge of Pumpkin Spice

 I love the fall. To me the Fall Equinox brings about a time of crisp air, fresh apples, sweater weather, and colorful leaves. Well honestly, we know the crisp air I so crave does not come until November, but I digress. Of all these wonderful things, it also brings about something I do not understand: Pumpkin Spice. 

What the Hell? In the first 50 years of my life the only "Pumpkin Spice " I knew of was the one bakers put in their pumpkin pie. One of the few pastries I am not a fan of but I respect.

I doubt that Linus's interest in his pumpkin patch was, "Wow, think of all the pumpkin spice we can make from these pumpkins." Nor, do I believe that the Great Pumpkin had pumpkin spice on his mind when(ever) he appears. Charlie Brown '...attributed Linus's belief in the Great Pumpkin to "denominational differences" '. I agree. There are many things I may worship, but a spice in the Great Pumpkin's name doesn't make that list. 

These days, Pumpkin Spice has ventured far from the tiny tins of Sauers. First it creeped into Star Buck's seasonal blend, then scones, muffins, and milkshakes became victims. I could accept this use of the spice. However, one can now buy everything pumpkin spice from body lotions to air freshener to scented towels. Oh, the inhumanity.

But, I respect someone else's desires. After all, I enjoy anchovies on my pizza. But, as much as I do, I would not want a body lotion or air freshener in that scent. OK, maybe that is not the best example, but to me this accrescent of pumpkin spice is just as vile.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Shackles of our Past

 As, I mentioned before, down here we don't throw much away. I never really thought about this until several days ago when I decided I needed a new sofa. But what to do with the current one with its broken springs and uncomfortable cushions. Unfortunately, the piece is one of an exact matching pair of Empire style sofas my mother had. Oh, the conundrum! I can't throw it out, it is worth too much. It makes no sense to keep it, seeing that doing so requires storing it somewhere. 

And, the mahogany end tables that were in my grandmother's living room? Or the marble topped table that I remember sitting in my Aunt Kat's entry hall? And on and on it goes.  What shackles us to these pieces? Sure, we can give the provenance of each piece, who had it in each generation, and exactly where it sat in which room. It is as if the pieces are our history. They tell the story. There is also most likely is a book on the family history or the family Bible where every birth, marriage, and death is recorded for posterity. Every life time milestone of generations with the exception of a divorce - which rarely was acknowledged.

Is it the comfort of the worn wood, the old brass, the nicks and scratches in the patina? Perhaps it is just  simply the ease. Generation after generation just settles into life among these pieces. Oh, we may recover an upholstered piece or refinish the surface of that chest on chest. Of course this later practice became no longer de riguier when PBS's Antique's Roadshow proclaimed that any change (refinishing surface, replacing any nobs or hinges, or fixing a broken piece) would greatly reduce the value of the piece.

For us, those scratches and dents are the scars of pieces being used daily. Like the family Bible, they, too, tell a story. An example of this in our family had to do with my grandmother's prized sterling tea service. As a young boy my father took an ice pick to the cover of the sugar dish which resulted in three round holes in the sterling piece. A silversmith had done his best work to repair the wound, which still bore the scars of that brutal attack. My mother was always quick to point out the repaired places, and tell the story. (Thankfully, she did not go as far as to attribute the damage to gunshots that occurred as Sherman's troops stormed the old home place.)

But what difference does it make to us? A family member will rarely sell a piece therefore making the "devaluation" of an altered piece irrelevant. It is bad enough we will not part with them, insisting that our home decor be determined by pieces of our past. Add to that, if we follow this practice of preservation, we must live with pieces that are dull, missing handles, or have drawers that no longer work. Of course, there is always the frowned upon practice of buying new pieces (brand new reproductions) and adding them to the family cache. Some compare buying reproductions to wearing white after labor day. Except the former is an affront to the family, while the later is just a sign of bad taste.

Back to problem at hand - the Empire Style sofa. Do I spend good money fixing the 8 way hand tied coils and recovering it in a smart damask or part with it and face my mother's ire from the grave? The jury is still out on this one.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Great Purge and Restoration

September 1 was the great purge; the migration of the spring clothes to the attic. No longer is my closet filled with white, pink, light green, yellow and baby blue clothes. These are replaced with the bright browns, greens, and oranges. I hoped bringing them forth from the attic would somehow hasten the coming of cooler weather. I can always hope.

The spring clothes have been blessed for their long winter's hibernation, folded neatly, and placed in their tubs. The tubs have been returned to their resting place. And like cocoons, when I open those tubs next mid March I will find those bright colors. They will cheer me up and remind me that spring is coming with its warm weather. (I know, be careful what you wish for.) 

As I piled up the spring and summer clothes, I remembered the expert advice (from someone on some  TV show - based in the unreality zone)  - "If you haven't worn it in a year - toss it." Convincing myself that I really don't  have any sentimental attachment to many of these threads, I considered this as I packed up the spring clothes. There were shirts, skirts, and summer sweaters that I have to admit I have not worn in a year (or 2). So I threw these on a pile to be "tossed". As I sorted, folded, unfolded, hung up and removed from hangers, the "tossed" pile  steadily grew.

This year I noticed a change in my clothes. I took them from their storage containers, laid them on my bed, and examined them for any holes (those pesky moths) or stains. Then I tried a few of the skirts on just to lighten my spirits. Alas, instead of the thrill of new clothes (well new to me - I have a short memory) it was the agony of tight zippers. Something had caused my skirts to shrink. They seemed to be a size smaller. Horrors! The same thing had happened with my pants. It was the case for all of them. 

I thought back, over the many years this had never happened. How could the elements effect my clothes this year but not in years past. Then it dawned on me, the obvious, the elements had not effected my clothes, the elements had effected me. Mid life had taken its toll. Those three pounds had settled in an unfortunate place. And it was not pretty. 

My motto has always been when my clothes got too tight it was time to lose weight not buy new clothes. This was my sign. Well, this was my sign to either lose weight or adjust my motto. 

For now, my fall and winter clothes are neatly placed in the closet, organized by color. Yes, for several weeks I will be anal enough to keep that system going. After that I will question the wisdom of that folly. Whatever. Today my closet is full of fall colors that mirror the hues of fall leaves. 

As I put the final spring clothes in their tubs, I looked at the pile to be discarded. Seeing a tub only half full, I just threw the unwanted clothes in it and sealed the top. I put it away with the other tubs, all the same color and size. I'll deal with "tossing" clothes next spring - what did that "expert" know after all. She/He must not be from the south, because down here we "toss" very little. We hold onto everything as if the spirits of family members who predecease us will rise from the grave and haunt us for abandoning our past. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Funds are in Your Account

 I may be a lot of things but (hopefully) stupid is not one of them. For instance, every once in a while I have some item I need to depart with. Often I list them on eBay. This was one such case.

In changing cell carriers, naturally I was required to buy a new phone, since my old phone (which was brand new) was on a different network. Knowing the phone was in excellent (almost new) condition and I still had the original box with the unused charger inside, I thought it would be perfect to resell. So I listed it and the fun began.

I had a buyer very quickly. But within a day he emailed to say he needed to cancel the purchase, since it was a gift for his son and he needed it sooner. I accepted the cancellation. Only a few minutes later I had another buyer. Within a few hours I was getting barraged with texts from the buyer asking questions about the item  and wanting pictures (which were not an issue except all the questions and photos were clearly shown and answered in the original listing). 

Then he requested overnight delivery via FedEx or UPS with an address to some "Unit" on "Zip Industrial Blvd" in Atlanta. He said he would offer $150 extra for the overnight shipping.  No problem, I do this often. I prepared the overnight shipment through UPS and advised him of the cost, which was much less than $150. Then he wanted to know how quickly I could get it to the shipper. And, he wanted a copy of the confirmation of shipping ASAP. Knowing I had most of the day to make the shipping deadline, I found this odd.

The texts continued. If I did not reply immediately, there would be a ? mark or another text "Are you there?" Then came a phone call. Due to his broken English I could not understand what he was saying and asked that he text me the request. The text came. He wished I include a $500 AmEx gift card in the box as a birthday present to his son in addition to the phone. (Note: 1st cancelled sale was also a gift.) Here's your sign!

When I immediately replied that I could not do that, his response was "OK". I then reminded him that I still had not received confirmation of his payment. That would be required before shipment - Duh! 

It was only a few minutes later that he responded he had paid eBay through Paypal. He said I should receive confirmation emails from both parties . . . and to check my spam folder, they may be there. Here's the 2nd sign.

Surprise! Surprise! The emails were in my spam folder - imagine that. And they asked that I provide the UPS shipping confirmation before payment could be released. I noted, there was odd syntax and spelling in the emails, although both looked quite convincing with all the "Official" eBay and Paypal graphics. However, checking my Ebay and Paypal accounts, neither was showing a pending payment.

I advised him that I had the emails, and was awaiting the "pending" notifications in either account. He quickly replied that these were new policies by eBay and Paypal to prevent fraud and that I needed to confirm shipment first. By now I was tired of this non-sense. He was not getting the phone. But the game continued. The next text from him said that the funds had been deducted from his Paypal account so I could proceed with the shipping. (The check's in the mail and I'll respect you n the morning.)

I, once again, advised him that neither of my accounts were showing a "pending" payment. (All the while I was the false emails to the fraud departments as eBay and Paypal.) He asked me to check again, which I did several times within the following hour (all the while refreshing my screen to ensure I did not miss an update.) Finally, I advised him the order would be cancelled and I was contacting both Paypal and eBay to get more information on this "new" security practice.

His response - "Ok"

In going to eBay and looking up the buyer, I saw that the account was opened the day of the purchase. Was it P.T. Barnum who said, "There's a sucker born every minute"? Maybe so, but not this time. Let us review here. A $500 gift card from AmEx -seriously! If I was not a frequent seller on eBay and was not aware of their policies, as well as those of Paypal, I could have fallen down that rabbit hole. The syntax and poor grammar in the emails were issues. As was both being sent to the spam folder given I have very established accounts with both eBay and Paypal.

But, being a good southern girl, I did not want to offend Ayide, so I went further with this insanity than I should have. And to think his poor son will not be getting the phone or the gift card for his birthday.  Now as for the grand lottery prize I have won, if I will just send several thousand dollars, to release the funds or the Society of What's Happening Now that only a needs several hundred dollars to feed the children with leprosy in India, well they may have to wait - as in forever. 

As I prepare the re-listing of the phone since I am still awaiting notification in my accounts that the funds have been received. My guess - Hell will freeze over first. But then any day now I'll being getting that money from that poor missionary in Liberia I sent her earlier this week. She sounded so desperate, and I am certain a missionary would never be involved in some deceitful scheme.  Right?

Monday, August 30, 2021

Little Lord Fauntleroy

I don't get my knickers in a knot when I receive a wedding invitation that is not engraved or is pink or purple - to each their own. And, I am past the point of worrying about one using initials in the address in lieu of full names. I realize folks these days are busy and don't have the time or are not willing to take the time to get their guests' full names.

However I do find it, especially in the South, unnerving when the forms of addresses are incorrect. One of  my pet peeves (to borrow a favorite phrase from my Mama) is the use, or rather misuse of the title "Master". Addressing a young boy as "Master" evokes portraits of the little one dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy.

And usually, when someone refers to their son or grandson as such they have no doubt subjected the young lad to a portrait sitting costumed in the required get up of velvet breeches and a wide lacy Victorian collar. I dear say some may still be in therapy due to such get up and humiliation.

Amy Vanderbilt stated "that in the USA, unlike the UK, a boy can be addressed as master only until age eight, then is addressed only by his name with no title until he turns 18, when he takes the title of Mr. although it is not improper to use Mr. if he is slightly younger. "Mstr." is used as a prefix for boys on the UK Passport Service online application form." 

Robert Hickey, deputy director of the Protocol School of Washington, stated that "use of Master [as] an honorific when addressing boys is considered old fashioned outside of conservative circles."

Basically in the United States, the use of this term is considered honorific at best and old fashion at worst. In my estimation (ie my humble opinion) it is arrogant. Little boys should just be little boys. John McCall Pillaster VI, should just be that, John McCall Pillaster VI - isn't that enough. 

And, yes, little girls are still referred to as "Miss" until they are married or choose "Ms." or become a doctor of some type. Perhaps unfair that McCall's little sister is "Miss Margaret Pinckney Pillaster" from the day she is born (in formal address) but such is life. 

So as I said, I only get my knickers in a knot when mothers dress their darling sons in them with the wide Victorian collars and then insist they are "Masters". If they want their little boys to be a "Master"they  should have been British and there they could have enjoyed the title until age 8. 

But then as my dear Aunty used to say, people in Hell want ice water.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Dark Side of the Moon

I was checking the weather last night and noted it said that there was a Waning Gibbous. What the Hell? Now I am familiar with the waning and waxing of the moon (thanks to Dr. Drost, my college astronomy teacher) but "Gibbous"? Inquiring minds want to know.

The Oxford Dictionary states:

  1. (of the moon) having the observable illuminated part greater than a semicircle and less than a circle.

And to think for 60 years I have been experiencing the Gibbous and was totally unaware. It never came up in a trivia game, on Jeopardy, or the Weather Channel. So I l took it upon myself and loooked into the 8 phases of the moon. 

Of course the next thing I saw was the "Jean Dixon" version of the phases of the moon. (Not familiar with Jean Dixon? You are showing your (youthful) age. Run along now.)

This is where the monkey dust comes in. Where as the scientific definitions are clear, describing each phase of the moon in relation to the sun, the touchy feely description delves into the spiritual aspects of each phase. In reading the attribute to each phase, I wasn't sure it had anything to do with the moon per se. They read more like the astrological column on page 3 of the National Enquirer, just under the story of the Elvis being sighted living as a gardener for the Hari Krishnas.

Somehow I doubt Diana (or Selene for the Greeks) referred to the New Moon as a time for an intense reboot or a time to release yourself from the grip of the past. (To paraphrase a description I found in some Astrological Digest.) Nor, did they see the Waxing Crescent as embracing desire. The article went onto attribute the First Quarter Moon as a time of action, the Waxing Gibbous as a period of redirecting course, and the Full Moon as the Harvest Moon (when you fight to find balance between two extremes). The Waning Gibbous is a time for gratefulness, the Last Quarter, a period of release, and finally, the Waning Crescent - the point of surrender.

And what about a Blue Moon? It is the second full moon in a calendar month which happens every 2 and half years or so (therefore it does not mean forever). Or a Super Moon (when it looks bigger because it is closer to the Earth). There is the Blood Moon, named for its reddish glow and seen during a total Lunar eclipse.

Learning all of this was not for naught.  I did note that under my sign (Virgo), the aspect, angle of the planets was in synergy with the winds, Venus was rising, Mars was transitory, and soon I would find myself restless. But, not to fret, for Jupiter was in my future bringing leisure and wealth.

Whatever. Keep in mind this is from the same publications that boasted such headlines as:  "I saw a Mad Cat eat my Mother", "Vengeful Corpse Makes Good on 100 Year Old Curse", and one of my favorites, "I was Seduced by a Flying Saucer". But, I'll hold out for Jupiter.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Food Gentrification


- to renovate or improve. 

Folks, while the world is concerned about the macro issues of world wars, economic recession, and health crisis, perhaps we should look closer and consider a micro issue that is slowly overtaking our society.

Now, I only speak for those of "us" with good taste, who were brought up, not necessarily in a wealthy home but one with a rich heritage of good food. Where the meals consisted of a cuisine anyone would kill to enjoy. These repasts were based on a heritage of the land and the sea, local herbs and spices, along with those brought from Africa and the Caribbean. 

But now these rich dishes are being reduced to simple boxes and disgusting cans. Instead of a slow cooking dutch oven, a cast iron frying pan, or good ol' pyrex dish, now a microwave and a can opener can (supposedly) reproduce these southern delicacies in minutes.

This is what our "society" has stooped to. I will warn you, the following images are very disturbing. 

Our collard greens, fresh from the fields, that we cook (using everyone's "secret" recipe) adding a ham hock, strips of bacon or fat back,

Have now been reduced to this:

Related image

Boiled peanuts should be dug up, rinsed, then cooked in a large pot over a gas burner. Part of the glory of this dish is the camaraderie around the cooker, telling stories, adding salt, and tasting the peanuts to see when they are done.

Image result for boiled peanuts in a can

And, now some poor children think a can opener is all that is involved in "preparing" and serving boiled peanuts. Worse yet, can you imagine what they taste like?

Margaret Holmes, Green Boiled Peanuts, 13.5oz Cans (Pack of 6)

My Mama and my dear mother-in-law both made the best macaroni and cheese. It was a serious rich cheesy casserole so thick is was cut and served in squares. This dish was as good the next morning (if anything was left over) as when it was first served. 

And now, "The" Blue Box is what this generation equates to "Macaroni and Cheese". Oh, the inhumanity!!

But the worse casualty, what someone should be tied and quartered for is that sweet succulent crab that we grew up eating. As a child, we used to use chicken necks tied to string to catch them in the inlet between Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms. Then that night we would sit on the front porch and pick and eat crab until we were full. Or Mama would make her rich crab casserole. After I learned to cook, I would use the fresh crab meat to stuff large shrimp, then wrap them in bacon to be grilled.

Image result for blue crabmeat

And today - mock, fake, crab like, style food ...

I know I have offended many, confused some, but hopefully I have opened the eyes of a few to the true southern food that is now "Gentrified" by these feeble fake foods.

Bon Appetite or, as we say down here, pass the biscuits and butter, please.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Life's Lessons - So Far

Over my many years, I have learned a few things - most the hard way. Some of the more important lessons I learned were not over keeping  Chaucer's characters in the Canterbury Tales straight or the value of Pi, but rather what to do or not, truths to accept, and accepted beliefs to reject. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Don't ever ask an overweight young lady when her baby is due.
  • If the outfit you are trying on is too tight, return it to the rack. All the good intentions to lose enough weight for it to fit will be in vain. Trust me. It took me several purchases to reach (and accept) this realization.
  • When the bottle of wine is empty and you cannot remember if it is the 1st or 2nd bottle you have shared with friends that evening 'tis best to go to bed.
  • No matter how much you believe or click your heals, the House Keeping is never going to come.
  • Every time your souffle falls, your Hollandaise sauce curdles, or your chocolate burns, keep in mind Julia Childs didn't know how to cook before she went to France so there is hope. 
  • When someone says "You are as young as you feel", chances are they are much younger and feel much better than you.
  • Benjamin Franklin said “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Unfortunately, no one remembers the first part of the quote and the second part, which everyone does remember, is a cruel reality.
  • Contrary to lore, the LBR (Little Black Dress) you keep in your closet will not always make your size 12 look like a size 8 - no matter what the fashion magazines say.
  • Never buy cheap shoes, cheap sheets, or cheap aluminum foil. 
  • Anyone who brings up the issue of a diet during the dessert course is rude, crude, and unattractive. 
After all, in the Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath (Alisoun) is the character who most enjoys life,The Prioress (Madame Eglantine) is the most proper, and Hubert, the Friar is a pain in the ass. As for Pi, it may be irrational, but it is still an even number

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

On and Off the Bandwagon

According to Merrian-Webster, the definition of Gluten is: "a substance in wheat and flour that holds dough together".

Once again, my little mind is a bit confused. As a child and young adult I had many friends (and relatives), and knew folks from many other parts of the country, and I never heard of anyone suffering from the ill effects of "gluten". This, despite the fact we were raised reared on a diet of Cherrios, Wheaties, and Sunbeam Bread. God forbid I mention our consumption of coconut cake, biscuits, and fried chicken - all these are truly gluten possessed. 

It wasn't until I was in my late 40's when I first heard of a friend of mine's cousin's child suffered from Celiac Disease that I ever heard the term "gluten free". The disease, she explained to me was when digesting gluten triggered the body's immune system to damage the small finger like projections that line the small intestine that promote nutrient absorption. This would prevent nutrients from being absorbed properly into the body. In this case, the child was really ill and the mother had to learn a different way to shop and cook for him. 

I could not imagine such a fate. First having a child one had to protect from such a horrendous disease and learn how to rethink how to shop, cook, and eat wheat and flour free in our world of bread, breading, cakes, cookies, and pasta. Obviously this was before the birth of the Gluten Free market.

Suddenly we have "Gluten Free" aisles in the grocery stores. A good 20% of my friends are now convinced that Gluten is the cause of every digestive, intestinal, or weight  problem they have and have sworn off the evil stuff. There are articles stating "80% of those with Celiac Disease go un-diagnosed". According to an article on Healthy Living while there are those who suffer from Celiac Disease, more may just have a wheat allergy. My question is how many of those on the Gluten Free band wagon have been tested to know exactly what they have?

I'm not saying it is a passing fad. Giving the "Gluten Free" aisles in the grocery stores, it is a full fledged business now. However, if one looks closer they will see many of the Gluten Free products while free of Gluten are chocked full of fats, sugars, and carbs. Remembers the "Fat Free" diets of the early 1990's. I thought I was in nirvana. That was the diet for me. Once I found that I could eat an entire Entennman's Raspberry Danish Twist (all 5 servings) without a fat gram I was in heaven knowing I had not strayed from my diet. (Of course how I was going to lose weight given I had just consumed about 1500 calories was just a minor detail.) Also remember that Kate Gosselin's haircut (the one that looked as if it were done by a drunk stylist with great ambition) was also a fad. But  digress.

I'm not saying that Gluten Free is all bad or that we may be carrying this a little far. Personally I'm not quite ready to swear off biscuits, fried chicken, and  whole grain bread - the real stuff not some GF alternative. All I am saying is, as a country we love band wagons and are quick to jump on. This all came to mind this morning in the shower when I noticed that on the front of both of my DH's shampoo and conditioner bottles it read "100% Vegan Free - Gluten Free". Seriously? Well, I'm just going watch this parade.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Barbie Gowns

My Mama may have tried to kill me with ric rac, but my Grandmother made the most incredible clothes for my Barbie dolls. I had an entire Barbie closet full of ball gowns, a wedding dress, and cocktail dresses, and Grandmama had all made  all these by hand.

Each of these pieces were incredibly detailed. The gowns would be made of satin with a coordinating chiffon or netting over the skirt. The cocktail dresses would be made of silk edged with sequins or some other fancy trim.  For every long gown for my Barbie, she made a coordinating one for my Skipper. One year, she presented me with a full length wool coat, with such details like pockets and a coordinating collar. 

When I look back on the small bodices and tiny waists she had to work with to produce these clothes, I am in awe. There was usually a small snap or tiny hook and eye in the back to hold up the skirt or fasten the back of the dress. The hems of the dresses were always perfectly even and turned under.

Even as a little girl I loved the Barbie clothes she made. When I went to play with my friends I had the loveliest Barbie clothes by far. If we were producing a Barbie wedding I was always fast to share my ball gowns and bridesmaid dresses. My friends were welcome to dress their dolls in the beautiful cocktail dresses my Grandmama had made for me.

But the grass is always greener. Out of all the gorgeous clothes I had, I did not have any "every day" clothes. My Barbie and Skipper could only dress for balls and dances and weddings and parties. I did not have any "real" Barbie clothes, the kind that came from the store with the Barbie label in them. I had to borrow those from my friends.

One afternoon I can remember a friend of mine having this Barbie suit made out of pink faux fur trimmed in white vinyl. It had a top, a skirt, and a coordinating hat. I had played with that outfit so much that she asked me if I wanted it. Seems she had been eyeing one of my ball gowns. When she suggested a trade I had to think about it. After much angst and guilt I made the trade.

Even though I can remember enjoying that pink outfit as long as I played with my Barbies, I still to this day feel pangs of guilt over that trade. How could I have given something my Grandmama spent so much time making for an outfit anyone could buy from the dime store? Now I am sure if my Grandmother knew about it she would chuckle. One gown would not have upset her. She would been happy that some other little girl was enjoying the gown she made. She probably would have been hurt though that I never asked to her to make my Barbie some everyday clothes.

Whatever the case, I look back on the two generations of talent. My mother who made my clothes and although I did not appreciate them at the time, she was an excellent seamstress and spent a great amount of time sewing each one. And my Grandmother who spent hours crafting those Barbie clothes. 

Unfortunately, while I once had an interest in sewing and learned the basics, like many things this is a lost art with me. However, the time and talent they put into it is not lost on me. All this came to mind when I found one of the lovely Barbie gowns my Grandmother made for me in the attic. And yesterday I came across a red plaid dress in a size 4 with two pockets and ric rac on it that my mother had saved in a box of other memorabilia we had unearthed while cleaning out her house. 

It is amazing how pieces of cloth hold so many memories. Well, pieces of cloth that have been carefully cut, folded, sized, stitched, edged, trimmed, and hemmed. 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Little Girl from Voque

As I have said, my mother made my clothes. I can remember the excitement of school starting and my 5 or 6 new dresses. Each was from the same basic pattern - but at 6 what did I know. Each was from a different material, in a different color, some were plaid, one was solid, a few were prints. Each were short sleeved and most had pockets on them. Almost all were decorated with a different color of ric-rac.

This enthusiasm was well worn off by Halloween. I was tired of my wardrobe. To make things worse, I seemed to be the only child in my class who was "fortunate" to have a mother talented enough to sew. Other mothers would often ask me if my mother made my dress and comment that is was "so cute". Even at 6, I wasn't sure if that was a heart felt compliment or the kiss of death.

One particular little girl comes to mind. She was pretty and petite. Her clothes were always perfect. I was not sophisticated enough to understand what I was seeing, but I knew it was different from the rest of us. Every season, she would change like a chameleon into a new phase of fashion.

Then there were the kids who got their mothers to let them shop at the "It" shop in town, where all of the "hip" clothes were. I think I got to go into the store once. Needless to say, none of my clothes came from there - only in my dreams. Meanwhile, I endured ric-rac. Little did I know I was just beginning a 12 year battle with my mother over clothes - a stand off that I never won.

It was only after I got out of college that I found my sense of "style", what I really liked and felt comfortable in. I never learned to sew and swore I would never make my children endure that affliction. (Although, we fought many battles over dress - or lack of it, over the years.)

The mystery of the well dressed little girl was revealed many years later when I learned that 3 or 4 times a year her mother would take her to New York to shop for clothes. No wonder she was so far ahead of us. After all, in 1966, most of us did not even know where New York was. Since it was north of the Mason-Dixon line it may as well not have existed. Looking back on it, even at 6 she looked like she dressed out of Vogue. No wonder I couldn't relate - as I sat next to her in gingham and ric-rac.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Simplicity and a Fate Worse than Death

I found an old Simplicity pattern recently and it brought back all kinds of memories. 

My Mama sewed and was an extremely talented seamstress when she put her mind to it. My Grandmother was also very talented and obviously taught my mother how to sew. Mama made some beautiful clothes for herself. She also made drapes for our house as well as some for my dear Aunt Kat's new house. She made throw pillow of every type and description. 

During the centennial of the war, she made Daddy an exact replica of the uniform those in Hampton's Legion wore so he would be correctly dressed for his reenactments down to the grey wool, red felt, and gold braiding.

Mama was practical - sometimes to a fault. When I started kindergarten, she made five little dresses for me. They were all from the same simplicity pattern. Each was of a different fabric. One was plaid, two were solid (in different colors), and two were of fabrics of different patterns. Each little dress was a bit unique. One may have one pocket, while another would two pockets, and a third would not have any pockets. But each and everyone one was decorated with a coordinating color of Ric Rac. (I went on to call that year and the next - "Death by Ric Rac".)

When it got chilly I would be dressed with tights and a blouse under the dresses. If was very cold, she would  put me in a matching pair of corduroy pants under the dress - which even at five I thought was a hideous idea and shared my opinion with her each time that occurred.

In the spring there would be five more in bright spring colors, each with coordinating ric-rac. It never got as bad as having the days of the week labeled on them, but it was damn close. 

Mama was being thrifty and looking back on it, it made perfectly good sense. She was very talented. The clothes were well made. The dresses, although fairly plain, were in fashion for the time - whatever fashion was in the early 1960's for a five year old. 

Other mothers would ask me if my mother made my dresses. I would answer "yes" with pride. All went well until first grade. For some reason the fashion rules change between kindergarten and first grade, something Mama never quite caught onto. 

That fall she made my five dresses. About 4 or 5 weeks into school I went into revolt. My clothes were different from those of my classmates. I wanted store bought clothes just like they had. Mama would have none of that. And so started the clothes war that continued until I left for college. 

In high school one year a certain style of top came into vogue. Everyone was wearing them. I had bought 2 or 3. One day I came home from school to find that Mama had decided to make several for me from a pattern she had found.

Yes, her heart was in the right place. However, the fabrics she selected were hideous. The calico prints were something so God awful I feel certain the Mennonite women who shopped locally had passed on those bolts of cloth in the fabric store deeming them too homely. I thanked her for them, tried them on, and put them in my closet. I think she took the hint because that was her last attempt to surprise me with a piece of clothing she had made.

My senior year, I could not find a formal gown for one of our spring dances. In total desperation and came home with the fabric and a Vogue pattern. Mama produced a lovely simple but elegant gown that I enjoyed wearing and actually wore to a dance in college.

Now I had another friend whose mother made all her clothes and they were gorgeous and trendy. Mama had the talent, she just never got the memo that perhaps things would go more swimmingly if I had some input into the fabric and pattern. But generally there was a failure to communicate between my mother and me until I was in my late 30's and had two children.

To keep the peace Daddy decided when I was in high school that perhaps I needed to learn how to sew and bought me my own sewing machine. I took lessons and learned the basics. Several attempts showed me that it takes a great deal of patience and talent to produce a garment from scratch using a pattern, fabric, the necessary notions, and a sewing machine. I gained respect for Mama's talent and the time she dedicated to making my clothes. 

However kindergarten was fine for calico, gingham, plaid, and ric rac, but after that peer pressure prevailed. Even as a 6 year old I did not know what "fashion" was. But I knew what wasn't and "Simplicity" was not going to be the end of me.