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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wowzier! Imagine living here!

A few days ago, I got to go along on a photo shoot for one of the magazines my daughter works for. I had loaned the style editor some things to help set the mood for the photos and as a result got to tag along.

It was a wedding shoot complete with: bride, groom, mother of bride, bridesmaid and flower girl. They even had a chef, Rolls Royce and wedding cake.

(This is where I should fill you in on how I rate weddings: the cake. I love cake. Hence operation pants fit. I was NOT offered a piece of cake, just as well as this was not a REAL wedding. All the same, I did wonder...was the frosting smooth or grainy? Filling or fruit?)

Anyway, the shoot was taking place in a very old and elegant mansion on Lake Michigan built in 1917. Think: Downton Abbey era. It is such a large house that when we entered, if we had not had a guide to get us to the shoot, I do not think we could have found it.

All of the models were lovely, and the dresses and accoutrements were all that one would expect from such an elegant venue.

I could not help but notice; it was a tired house. Everything about it was just a little worn down and neglected. True, it is for sale and has been for quite sometime. No one appeared to live there and it felt kind of sad. Houses need to be lived in and loved. Even ones like this.

It was easy to imagine, when it was first built how much thought and money was put into the completion of the project. The parties, the rooms filled with people, and the hallways bustling with servants making everything happen smoothly.

I hope it was filled with happiness and laughter and many, many children, after all, there at 27 bedrooms. I would like to think that there were at least 8 or 10 young'uns running around, sliding down the many banisters, getting in the way and having a ball while doing it.

I hope that it was not a sad and sorry place at the beginning with everyone discontent and unhappy. I would like to think, it had a time when it was filled with joy and love and contentment.

Bittersweet seeing such a house in all of its faded glory.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Portrait of a Chair

You get to see my orange car as a bonus
Today while driving up and down the street I live on, I spotted a broken chair next to someone's mailbox. Typically, chairs do not hang out on our street and especially not broken ones.

The first time I spotted it was on my way to the market. The broken part was carefully placed upon the seat, the legs of the chair are lovely, and without blemish.

While I shopped for cinnamon, all bran cereal and pears, (hoping to find some that at least looked like they would not be mealy and a disappointment), I thought about that chair.

As you can see from the photo, I have included for you viewing pleasure, it is a dining room chair with the back is broken.

I kept thinking about how the back might have been broken.

Was it:

A. Someone too large leaning back? I have some history in this possibility, which is a whole other story, but in fact does give me the scope to imagine that being the case.

B. Some young couple or for that matter some older couple sitting together on the chair and "getting carried away" and leaning back to "crash!"? Mmmm, possibly.

C. Someone vacuuming to hard around the chair legs and knocking it over to disastrous results, I may or may it have some experience with this possibility.

Waiting for a new home
D. Someone, in a fit of rage, throwing the chair and there by achieving this end results? While I have never behaved in this manner, I have viewed, on occasion, action movies with my spouse. (He rates these movies by how many helicopters are blown up. You guessed it, the higher the number the better the rating at least for him.)

Funny. All or none could be true. This lonely chair, sitting on the parkway of a house on my street, really captured my imagination. It looked like it had been a lovely chair from someone's dinning room set. The thought of having one of my dining room chairs broken and having the set "split up" so to speak, made me sad.

We have had so many meals around that dining room table. Meals that have been; awkward, celebratory, bickering, and pure joy. All sitting in those dining room chairs, with the blue petite point covers, together.

The second and third time I passed the chair, I had a lot of driving today (sigh), only served to reenforced my interest. So finally, on my last drive by of the day, I pulled into the drive, the chair's previous home, and took its portrait.

It is a visual reminder for me of how easy it is to "break up a set" and how tenderly we need to repair, love and care for each other, so none are broken and left out by the street.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Anatomy 101 (or if the dress fits, wear it)

Today, I am sharing a actual letter one of my daughters sent to J.Crew. I enjoyed it so much and evidently J.Crew also did as with in an hour of sending it off: to the great internet customer service email address in the sky, they responded. I am happy to report, she now owns the dress and wears it beautifully*

"Dear J Crew Customer Relations,

While I admire Jenna Lyons and her dedicated team of stylists as much as the next person, this obsession with mini cropped pants and shapeless sweaters has got to stop. I like to think of myself as a reasonably-sized, non-anorexic American person, but over the past few years the silhouette of J Crew’s designs has excluded me. Which is fine; these things happen, and there are other fish in the seas
So close, but yet so far...

However. This year, for a brief and glorious moment, I thought that Jenna Lyons had stopped her pursuit of dressing every tall, thin woman who bothered to flip through the catalog (which has a beautiful layout, this holiday season—kudos to the designers). The reason for this was the discovery of the Flared Ponte Dress, item # 15874 (link to product page).

At last, it was the dress I had been hoping for, for all of my admittedly short professional life: modest, well-formed, attractively fitted. When I first tried it on, I was delighted to discover that the waistline actually hit me at my waistline (usually it hits at my rib cage—has anyone in your company taken basic anatomy?) and, more importantly, I could actually move my arms without warping the line of the garment. Do you know how hard it is to find a dress that is comfortable to type in? Probably not, judging from the bulk of J Crew’s clothing options. Let me tell you: it is a rare and precious gift.

Due to the “recent professional” part of my life, it took long enough to save up the money for this dress that it’s no longer available. I ask, with all due politeness, what gives? I realize this dress might have been considered a risk for you at J Crew—it is so unlike the rest of the clothes you manufacture—but did you not realize that women like me have been hoping desperately for this kind of dress? Did you conduct any market research before it sold out?

All I wanted was to have a plain black dress to wear to work. I wear a size six, I’m 5’ 4”, I don't think I'm asking for the impossible. I thought you had my back, J Crew; I really did.

If there’s any hope of your making this dress again, please let me know. I’ve been let down before, but like a fool, I’ll come running.


K.R. McEneely"

*Please note: The young woman pictured in said dress is not my daughter (though my daughter is just as, if not more-so, lovely.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blue Footed Boobie and Breakfast

My breakfast companion, everyday.
rendered by my daughter

Every morning, as I eat my breakfast*,  across from me is my dining companion. We have been breaking bread, so to speak, together for about three years now. It is a one sided conversation, but I am not too worried. We have bonded.   I know who has had to face rejection, overcome it and move on. I really do and I relate.

He doesn't have a name per say, I fondly think of him as "Boobie" after all it is part of his name. He is pretty good on his feet and dancing comes quite naturally to him. I have included a link here  for you to see just how he does his moves.

He had me at the first footwork.

I must thank my daughter for introducing us. I would not have ever been exposed to his charms had she not pointed out his endearing ways on YouTube.

I relish my cereal and drink my tea and gaze fondly upon him,  silently thinking, as I am a married woman; he is pretty wonderful.

*(for those to whom these kind of details matter) Breakfast encompasses: Earl Grey Tea, loose leaf in a horridly colored pink teapot with a tidy little basket to hold the pesky leaves, dab of milk in said tea and a mix of several different bran cereals.  Which came about because I once combined all of the a fore mentioned bran cereal together, because no one else in this house would eat the dribs and drabs at the bottom of the box (so as not to waste) and found I liked it! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Missing Car Keys or Helen

Elusive creatures, when you need them the most...

Yesterday, when preparing to leave the house for an appointment, ahead of scheduled I might add, the car keys seemed to be AWOL. I checked in all of the usual places, desk, husband's desk, son's desk, my dresser and the car itself. This key-less start on cars has not been my friend.

Nowhere to be seen. I then escalated the search with texts and phone calls to the obvious culprits.

No response. Sigh

This left me with only one avenue to take. Call my husband's office and speak to Helen.  The only woman in an office of men.

Not "our Saintly Mary(s)" but someone's
(Not to get off track, but God love those women willing to take on the task of civilizing men. My younger son went to an all boy's school for high school, even the teachers were all men. The only women in the whole school were in the front office, all named Mary. The parents always referred to these women as "the Saintly Mary(s)" and with out them, I am sure, nothing would have ever been accomplished.)

While this post was to be about Doug, (kindness itself, when assisting me) who was delegated to bring me the keys, really, it should be about Helen.

Helen, holds down the office where my husband toils everyday, she also holds down the world, so to speak, while her husband travels to remote places (Here is a link for one of his travel logs:), like Mongolia or Brunei or Afghanistan, with grace a resolve. She is from a semi-small town in Wisconsin, where she met her husband in grammar school, and together they set off to see the world.

She use to accompany him and assist with his work, but the world being what it is, she instead, accompanies, so to speak,  my husband with his work, in a small suburban town, of the not very exotic, Illinois.

She wears a hat every day. It frames her darling face with a rim of color that brings out her eyes, and accents her glasses, beautifully. She quietly accomplishes what everyone needs (case in point:  finding my husband, who did have BOTH sets of keys), reconciling the accounts, fielding calls from suppliers, and herding all of the rest of the cats, without even a whip or a chair.

See the satellite dish on the left, I am not making this stuff up.

I have never heard her complain; though I know she misses both the travel and her husband, who is often gone for long periods of time. Thank God for SKYPE.  She often shows me photos of yaks with satellite dishes or other peculiar images from worlds foreign to me, that her husband Steve sends her.

She diligently nurses the office plants, keeping the poinsettia from several Christmases ago alive and well, which is much more that I could ever do (my rule of thumb: if it is in the house: it will die. I am ONLY speaking of plants here.) She attends to every birthday of the staff with an appropriate birthday cake and procures the wine and cheese, which we sometimes partake of, on Friday evenings after work. Quietly and without fan fare.

I admire her greatly. She is the balm in Gilead, the oil on trouble waters and the breath of spring in a cold winter and best of all for me, she is my friend.

The world is a better place for Helen.  I hope you have a "Helen" in your life too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Night Musings or parallel time travel...

Were they all experiencing the same thing?

It is something to realize; what I lived is not the same as others that were in the very same place at the same time. Even more, to have the realization that sometimes those closest to yourself have felt, understood or experienced something so unique only to them and you missed it.

We live in such a crowded world.  Because it is so crowded, our lives are shaped together. Yet, each of us has a completely different response to the information taken in. And that information is filtered through all of the other experiences that have come previously. 

Whether it is my childhood, that I saw in my own peculiar way, or how one of my numerous siblings saw theirs, it is unique. How can this be can this not be? 

Now, with my own family around me, I am frequently struck by how they respond to situations and their interpretations of what has occurred in this home over the years.  A little like the old game "Telephone" I am sure you played it too, when you were a child. 

All in all, it is remarkable.

Humbling too. 

I use to think, when I left for Kindergarten  my mother was frozen in the same spot I left her,  until I arrived home from school. I  wondered how all of the tasks got done, while I was away and she was "frozen". When I inquired of her about this phenomena, she patiently explained what really went on while I was away.

It was the beginning of my fascination with parallel time travel. Not that I have done it, of course, but what if we could?

Maybe, we all ready do.  When two people are together and they are in different places in their feelings and responses to the situation, maybe it is parallel time travel only with feelings.

It could explain so much…

Monday, February 18, 2013

Saturday Night or all is not lost...

Clementine: the only time she is not barking

This last Saturday, I was to go to the movies with my two grown daughters. We made our plans earlier in the week and when Saturday came; I was surprised by just how much I was looking forward to "going out".

I started the day out: cleaning off all flat surfaces in my bedroom, office and studio. There are a lot of flat surfaces in my bedroom, office and studio, so to accomplish this in one day, not evening too, was ambitious. After surveying the dining room table, I added that to the quest.

cleared desk
I shuffled through all of the papers, expired coupons, gas receipts, local news flyers, (that may or may not be interesting), new books, over due library books,  lingering books (almost interesting enough to read, but not quite) and items that seemed too important to discard, but not important enough to become permanent residents of our home.

It is a filtering process (or shoveling, some might say) and requires many decisions (who am I kidding here, millions of decisions), that truthfully, are Exhausting.

Or usually exhausting, but not this time, because I was going to go to a movie (imagine this being said in a sing song voice) and somehow this made it all seem doable.

Some of the artist recent work...

My husband went off to other places to help others "tidy up" their computer messes, and the other personnel had vacated the hacienda.

It was Clementine and me. Clementine happily barked  through all of the tasks at hand, while I started on the office.  (I was only way laid for a few minutes by YouTube videos, honest.)  I found the counter with record speed, after all, I was going to go to a movie later, must finish up, chop, chop!

On to the studio, which is a glamorous name for my workroom. Clementine did not choose to join me. There is nothing to bark at there.

This is where I: quilt, paint, sew, weave, dye fabric, iron, cut things up, glue, design, knit, crochet, and anything else that makes a mess.

There was yarn to be wound up, knitting needles paired up, fabric, recently pulled out for a photo shoot for my daughters work, to be folded up, not to mention the ironing (which had been waiting far longer then I care to admit to).

Ribbons: I harbor them, it is a sickness.
Through all of these tasks I was almost giddy with the thrill of accomplishment.  ...and did I mention, I was going to go to a movie?

Looking up from my labors,  I realized it was dark outside. I had not heard from either daughter. In fact, it was almost time for the movie...mmmm

So, I, being a parent of the new age, text them,  only to find out their plans no longer included the movie. Sigh.

It was about this time, my husband arrived home. He did not know it as he arrived, but he was about to be transformed (one more time) into a knight in shining armor.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Operation Pants Fit or one more time around the track

You gotta have a goal

At our house, this month,  we have been engaged in "Operation Pants Fit" but really it should be "operation ALMOST pants fit".

I have been dutifully walking the dog every day,  riding the stationary bicycle (which is how I justify any TV watching I might engage in), and meeting my friend (who I have known since high school, when we were both much thinner, fit and in 9th period gym class) to walk laps at a nearby indoor track.

Another name we use for this program is: "5 in 4" that is, five pounds in the four weeks of  February. We like to name things at our house. We also like to quantify what the goal is. My spouse, somehow felt this goal was possible, as he ate just one more chocolate chip cookie.

Weeeeell. The month of February is now half way past. And truthfully, so have many others things past...right into my mouth. This is not working out in quite the manner I had hoped it would.

 My friend, who races through the laps with me at the track, said last week "if this does not work I am going to have to troll the high school halls for white cross"
"White cross?" I asked
If only ...
 "Speed. But they probably would not give us any, 'cause we are too old" she replied.

My brain has amazing visualization abilities and the thought of a couple of middle age women "trolling" the hallways of the high school was more ridiculous then just about anything else I could think of.  With that thought in mind, I started to laugh and laugh and laugh some more. I don't know about you, but it hard to walk very fast when you are laughing so hard.

As I have aged, I have found that dropping a few pounds in not quite as easy it once was, if it ever was. I have also found that while I am occasionally very focused on this plan of attack, I am not quite as focused as one needs to be, if they are going to accomplish the goal of shedding a few pounds.

Sigh. Once again, I am the weakest  link in my own chain of events. Drat!

So, if you happen to see a middle age women at the track, walking very fast, or least very fast for a old woman,  it will probably be me in " maneuvers" for Operation Pants fit.

Wish me luck! (But, please, put away the scale...)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Holy Cow...

Similar to the woods I walk in near my home:
only mine are muddier.
Outside, it may look like a cold, dreary day, with  grey, dirty snow round about me, but inside my house the view is otherwise.

Inside it is wrapped in understanding, support and love, even among the dust bunnies that gather on the floor as I write (thanks to Clementine's constant shedding).

It is Valentine's Day and while I am not young or entertaining a "new love", I am celebrating how much love there is in this old life of mine.

A Valentine like I always hoped
 to receive, but did not...
I have the blessing of being married for over 34 years to a man who still thinks my jokes are funny, my "added fullness" attractive and tells me that he is never bored with me. Remarkable.

I have produced four children that have grown to adulthood, who are both generous and kind to me as I meander towards my dotage.

And as of late, everyday has brought people into my life who are; collaborative, interesting, intellectually stimulating and also make me laugh.

So while St. Valentine has a cloudy history about what exactly he is a saint for, and today's society it is all about  "looove", for me it is a day to look around, take stock, and realize that it is through the kindness of others I am allowed to grow and understand what love really is:

 Steadfast support of one another, through thick and thin. (in my case, I am hoping for thinner...)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hey! That is MY Toothbrush or maybe not?

This is not my toothbrush or my husband's

I am the culprit, the thief in the night or morning, so to speak.  I just found out  the toothbrush  I have been using for the last few weeks is not mine. This explains so much. Like why every time I go to brush my teeth,  my brush is residing in a new spot, and not mine.

My spot is the second slot in the cabinet, not by choice, but default. The brush in question, blue with a white stripe on the handle, had been migrating to the first spot in the cabinet while I slept every night for the last few weeks. Of its own accord?  No!  It is not my toothbrush at all, but my husband's. Mine, apparently is the orange handled one. I don't remember choosing the orange handle one, but there you have it. So, the mystery is now solved.

A "Pearl" look alike 
My only joy in this matter is:  Clementine, our dog is not the co-user. Whew! (Though I would not have put it past her.)  When the children were little, I once found my toothbrush perilously close to Pearl's cage (one of our many pet rabbits) in a small hand preparing to give the rabbit a "good brushing". Though  reassured several times by said children, "the brush had not crossed Pearl's lips", (God rest Pearl's sweet soul) I discarded the toothbrush in question, for good measure.

My husband, the one most horrified by this recent chain of events, rightfully so as it is his toothbrush I have been using, (twice a day) has recovered... pretty quickly. I must admit he is a sport about most everything, but his toothbrush and hairbrush: sacrosanct.

In this life, or at least my life, there are many mysteries. So while I am delighted to have solved this one, I am sad to say I prefer the blue handle brush. Sigh.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Poetry Day or spare thoughts on a cold day.

What I wish it looked like outside right now, but sadly, does not.

         Poem # 1

          Secretly longing
          For soft talk
          In the night
          Early morning
          If it is still dark.

Water color paintings I have done to chase away the winter.
          Hoping to 
          Find a landing strip
          That does not strip

          Me cold.

 Poem #2

(For Claudia)

Her quiet smile
Wraps around those she loves
Anticipating their anguish.

Sitting in the far corner 
Quietly controlling
With understatement
The room.

She applies balm
Her brush with life
Painting a way out.