Saturday, April 11, 2009

What is it about Swapping out Summer Clothes that is so Satisfying?

It was too chilly today to work out in the garden as I had planned, so I did the climb to the attic to bring down the summer boxes. Partly it's the brighter colors: turquoise, pink and pale green to lighten up the black, white and gray that are staples in my closet. Partly it's the lighter fabrics. I am so tired of wrapping up in heavy, fuzzy, fleecy things every day. But most of all I think it's the fresh start that goes along with all the other things that are starting anew.

Somehow, just the act of folding away the old familiar winter clothes and shaking out and refolding the new spring and summer things and then putting it all neatly in the drawers makes me feel like I have turned a page and really started on a new part of the year. I even took the time to carry the boxes of winter clothes back upstairs to storage, completing the whole job in one afternoon.

It was also satisfying to clear out a lot of clothes that I know I won't wear again - you know the things that fit for five minutes when I was down to a size 12, the yellows and oranges that looked great on the hangers and made me look dead, and that black and white diagonal stripe top - what was I thinking? I had three bags for Goodwill, so hopefully someone smaller, golden-skinned and with a flair that I don't have will find good use for them. Into the trash pile went a lot of tee shirts with logos from a previous employer, the pink fleece anorak that I have worn to death, and all those odd socks that seem to multiply in the drawer all winter. What do socks do in there in the dark?

Telecommuting has really changed my wardrobe needs, so it will be interesting to see how the fall change-over goes. Will I have bought things for summer that I really love and use, or will there be lots to go to Goodwill - again. Will I have resisted the colors that just don't work, or will I have been sucked in one more time by something trendy and cute on the hanger? Will I have lost enough weight that I'll be getting rid of things that are too big, instead of too small? One can only hope.

Maybe that's what's it's really about - hope. Hope that in the next six months I will make lots of good decisions - starting with what I wear!

Friday, April 10, 2009

49 Year Old Linus

What is it with Facebook and all the games? and where do folks find the time to play them?

I joined Facebook some time ago in hopes of locating a friend from high school. Altho I did not locate her, I did find a number of people from both high school and college and then a bunch of folks from my recently closed employer. Initially it was fun to easily stay in touch with everyone, but now when I go there - less and less often - I find comments about comments from folks I don't know and not much direct communication from anyone. Most of what I get is challenges to take a quiz or play a game.

Recently I have tried playing Word Twist. I actually like this one, and think that with practice one could get good at it. I have three friends who play a lot, but they have lots of practice on me, so my scores are comparatively awful! I may invest some time in getting better so that I can actually compete with them.

Otherwise, you will be relieved to know that I am a 49-year old Linus, with an above average IQ and Jimmy Choos. My element is "air" and I have joined a sorority and gotten a really pretty prom dress. All in answer to challenges and invitations from friends. There are about 40 more that I could do, but I really ran out of steam - to say nothing of interest - after about 30 minutes.

So, Friends, please stop challenging me and inviting me. I would much prefer to know what's going on in your life and how you are.

But, getting back to Linus for a minute. Would you believe that Wikipedia has three pages - six sections - on Linus? Having read it, I think maybe I like being Linus. Apparently Linus is the philosopher and theologian for the Peanuts gang. He invented a quasi-religious being - the Great Pumpkin. Altho he has tried hard to spread the word to others, only he had maintained his faith. While his security blanket might have once been considered a weakness, over time he used it more as a weapon - think starwars light stick - than as a crutch, and remember that he actually originated the expression "security blanket". I think I will stick with Linus. At least I'm not Lucy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!

Altho not my longest standing friend, Elizabeth has been one of my best - nearly forever. We met the first week of college, roomed together our senior year, and lived only blocks apart in grad school. She took me home for Thanksgivings in an age when travel to my home took too long for a weekend trip, and she tried to teach me to make good spaghetti sauce - like her mother's. She taught me to save, and to drink Cuba Libras. Later it was brunch in Georgetown with mimosas, and today it's a quiet chat over a glass of good red wine.

She was there for all the big things in my life - falling in love - and out of it, losing my virginity, buying my first house and finally, she stood next to me when I married the right man - and she, too, objected to the judge saying "and obey"!

We traveled together as girls and have spent vacations together with our husbands. She married a humdinger and inherited a wonderful son, whom she loves unconditionally. I can imagine us having rooms together in "the home" twenty years from now.

She's always been just a phone call or an email away. And she is always available to listen when I need to talk. Never judgmental, only probing to help me figure out how I really feel. She's a Wise Woman who is well-grounded, and as giving in spirit as anyone I know.

So, Happy Birthday, Elizabeth. Enjoy your day. Walk on the beach. I love you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thank you, Michelle!

Surely enough has been said in the press about Michelle Obama's style. We know more than we need to about her use of unknown designers and small design houses, ... and J Crew. We've seen national and international news anchors going on endlessly about how good she looks and how she's the new Jackie O. We even know that she went toe to toe (Manolo a Manolo) with Carla Bruni and at worst came away with a tie, but it seems to me that in all the babble the important thing has gotten lost.

Michelle Obama is one of us. She has hips! She's built like a real woman and her clothing choices may help free the rest of us from the limits that haut couture [and its less expensive copycats] have placed on us for the past ten years. In other words.... maybe now we can buy clothes that fit and that [drumroll here, please] actually flatter a real woman's body.

With the generational change that has happened in the White House, we have gotten a First Lady who works out - look at those arms! To die for! and who is in good shape, but who is not a size two. Nancy Reagan wore lovely clothes, but she was a size two, as well as a grandmother with the budget to buy Hollywood glamor. She always looked lovely, but never wore anything that a working woman could consider. [Well, maybe that one-shouldered red evening dress, but it's overkill for my office at LSE.]

Hillary Rodham Clinton was a real - working - woman with a real middle aged woman's body, but she tried to hide it in pants suits that just didn't work for her. She probably needed a younger, more hip designer, but you have to give her a little credit for trying. I've tried the pants suit solution, and it doesn't work for me, either - I'm too short and have too much hip to look really good.

Laura Bush had the same problem. She always looked frumpy. I never heard much about her designers, and maybe she didn't really care, but like so many First Ladies there was nothing to emulate.

But now here comes Michelle wearing separates and dresses with pleated skirts, gathered skirts, and even fitted skirts that show her curves. Did you hear the pregnancy rumor that was caused by folks-in-the-know who thought they saw a "baby bump" on election night? That bump is called a "belly" on the rest of us. We all have it; it's pretty round on some of us.

My hope is that with Michelle leading the way we will see skirts that are fuller, more mix and match separates, little jackets and sweaters that can go from day until night and from everyday to fancy. In other words... clothes that all of us can wear. Who am I kidding? Clothes that I can wear!

I'm not too wild about this sweater - probably because it's too busy for me - but give me that fitted sweater and full skirt over Mrs. Brown's too tight suit any day. I can hardly wait to do a little shopping this spring. I think it may be more fun than in years! And, Michelle. You go girl!

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's That Time of Year, Again

Clearly it's time for Persephone to come home from Hades. Why else would Demeter be working in overdrive to prepare such a gorgeous welcome for her?

I can't walk outside without being accosted by house sparrows and their first crop of offspring chirping from their carport nests. Or, walk too close to the front porch and upset the newly wed couple of house finches who decided to build their first nest in the wreath on house and who are mad at me for getting too close. Screeching is ok, but the dive bombing has got to stop!

Nature is just one bud waiting to pop open after the next. Dogwoods are showing a bit of white off in the woods and the first azalea opened today, with a host more all set to follow over the next four weeks. Everywhere I look nature is alive and bursting with life. It's that time of the year when my faith in a greater power is restored. Forget those painted eggs and give me a bursting bud any day to remind me that we are not all there is, and that "someone" with a bigger plan got it right. We are just the stewards.

I spent some time today cleaning out the old leaves from the helebores and weeding the vegetable garden-to-be. Both yucky jobs, but the sort that immediately show results and tell you that the time was well spent. Under the mature helebores there must have been another million babies, and under all the grass in the vegetable bed were wee lettuce leaves - yet more proof of the annual rebirth of all green things. And, enough mature spinach for dinner tonight to remind me that there are those things - like the fish in the pond and the spinach - that lie low and make it just fine thru the hard days of winter. I'd like to think that I am like them, too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It Ain't Capistrano, but It's Ours

Yesterday the fish came back. Well, not like the swallows to Capistrano, or salmon swimming upstream , but they had been missing since last fall, and we are thrilled to have them "home". We cleaned the pond.

Altho the pond is two seasons old, we did not clean it last year - big mistake. Well, at least a medium-sized mistake. By fall the water was so dirty that the pump filter was having a difficult time keeping it clean, but no fall house cleaning for ponds. Like bears, our scaly friends slow way down in the winter and sleep a lot in the bottom, but unlike our furry friends they still need to eat now and then. And without the pump, they have to get their food and oxygen out of the muck on the bottom. Don't ask me to explain the science, but all the books agree - don't clean the pond in the fall! Since I am not much of a cleaner anyway, I had no difficulty following that rule.

So, siphons, pumps, brushes and the hose in hand, we attacked the pond yesterday. After terrifying the fish by draining half their water and forcing them into the bottom, we scooped them all out into big plastic tubs and started in on the muck. There is the same kind of satisfaction in cleaning the pond that one find in mowing the grass - you know it won't last long, but it looks so good when you finish. Even standing bare footed and ankle deep in cold - I do mean cold - water, it felt good to do.

But the wonders we discovered: three, count them, three frogs! We had seen one a few times, but perhaps it's a family - two large and one small. Now we think we have identified the "black fish" that we saw feeding last fall - big tadpoles! And did you realize that frogs stay under water for long periods of time - like hours - and really do use the "frog kick" to get around. I'm a city girl - that was news to me.

Wonder #2: the waters lilies live! Both have sprouted new growth and one is so much larger I had to repot it. I alrelady knew that the iris had thrived, but they live at the surface and I could see weeks ago that they had new growth. Even tho the water lilies were billed as "hardy", I fully expected to be buying new ones in May.

Wonder #3: the baby fish made it, too. In the fall we counted 8 - 11 babies of various sizes. Now we know that three were tadpoles, so the count was really 5 - 8 babies and we ended up with all eight. With the five big fish, we had more than our tiny pond can sustain, but the pond store recycles fish, so we took most of the the little ones back.

This morning the five "old fish" [Big Red, Goldie, Oreo, Spot, and Whitie] are now circling the pond with three youngsters - as yet unnamed, but clearly the children of Spot or Whitie, which will make naming them more difficult. They are eating and seem none the less perky for wear and tear and the excitment of spending the day in a plastic tub. Perhaps they even appreciate the clean water and gurgling pump - I sure do!

A New Start

Why is writing so difficult? For months I have wanted to do this and now that I have actually jumped into the water - and enjoyed it - I cannot seem to find time and all the wonderful ideas I had have circled the drain and disappeared. I find myself thinking, "I should write" and then doing something else, while trying to pull five words together into a reasonable sentence in my head. Failing that, I never get started. This morning is a good example.

It's too cold yet to walk, so I sat down ... and read someone else's blog. I think hers is so comfortable, that I am intimidated by it. I am also lulled by the finished product. What flows on the page is surely not the actual words that flowed from her brain thru her fingers to the keyboard. She thought, she edited, she re-wrote and now I am looking at the finished product.

So, I think I need to decide what it is that I want to do - write the great American novel? write soaring essays about memorable things? frame a memoir? perhaps all of those someday, but for now I think I really just want to practice the skills I used to have but which are sleeping from lack of use. I need to go back to the beginning and look at the meaning of "blog".

Encarta Dictionary (North American version): English - "Blog". Same as "weblog". a frequently updated personal journal chronicling links at a Web site, intended for public viewing.

I need to look at that chronical-thing. While I have been looking for the big idea, the "writing assignment", I have lost track of the chronical aspect. It's been at least 40 years - ok 50 - since I kept a diary, but that's more the idea for now.

New goal: write something daily about what happened in my life - or on TV - or an interesting event or website. Just write.