Books!

Ever since I was old enough to read to myself I have loved to read. Some 25 or so years ago I started keeping a typed journal filled with my reviews of and responses to the books I read. The journal began in ClarisWorks. Never heard of it, huh? Well, it was a long ago Apple computer program and, when Apple discontinued support – combined with my at-the-time poor document management skills – my journal went kaput. 

At Thanksgiving 2008 my older son gifted me a Book Lust Journal made of paper, and for almost two years I continued journaling. Now I keep my journal in Goodreads where there is a new feature that displays the year in books.

The book with the missing cover art is The Inevitable Guest: A Survival Guide to Being Company and Having Company on Cape Cod. No idea why the cover art does not appear in Goodreads, but I shall remedy that right now. Here, in all it's glory, is the cover!

Christmas Eve Morning Kayak

Scores of eastern U.S. cities to shatter Christmas Eve warm weather records. Here in Mamaroneck, some 20 plus miles northeast of Manhattan, we set a new record for yesterday's temperature at 64 degrees Fahrenheit/17.8 degrees Celsius. While it is easy to wonder about the reasons for and effects of this weather anomaly, there is only one way to deal with it – and that's to make the most of it!

Our house abuts a salt marsh and tidal creek, making it possible for us to kayak from our backyard pending the tide conditions. We went out this morning on the rising side of a 10:22 a.m. high tide, one that was slated to reach 8.4 feet/2.6 meters. Heading out well before 9:00 a.m., the tide was high enough that we could enter our kayaks from the house-end of the dock.

That's me at the start, already feeling overdressed in a cotton sweater with a long-sleeve kayaking shirt underneath, and flannel lined jeans. Entering Mamaroneck Harbor from Otter Creek, we toasted our Christmas Eve morning with hot tea and honey in the best water bottles I've ever found (they really do not spill!) 

The harbor is dotted with buoys as it makes its way out into Long Island Sound, and we often make one our destination (this morning we went beyond). That's my husband on our return, meandering home through the serpentine of the creek. Could not resist these final pictures of reflections welcoming us from both sides of the creek as we headed out on our kayak.

It's a Wrap! (December)

I know, December hasn't ended yet, but school has – it's vacation! This makes it the perfect time to wrap up outfits for this month. I didn't feel compelled to record each day's outfit, as some were purely jeans oriented.

Harboring a cold for almost two weeks of the month, I opted for comfort on most days. My black LLBean Signature corduroys and burnt sienna (a favorite Crayola crayon color) Gap straight leg corduroys got a lot of wear. The addition of a statement necklace and red belt does much to improve the fuchsia dress from its November outing. And the black/gray dress had been around a long time, so much so that the top was rather bedraggled. I cut off the sleeves to accommodate wearing a denim shirt over the top (or next time likely a sweater) and give it a second life, ideas that came from Kasmira Kit's blog.

The statement necklace, orange yoga pendant, and earrings displayed in November all were made by my husband, who is a 3D designer and artist. More about that in a future post! He also kindly took all the pictures. Yup, some are blurry. Am sure it's a combination of my moving, or my husband moving, or the lighting. That's one reason I signed up for Emma Davies' free online photography course A Year With My Camera, to begin this January. Meanwhile I'm taking pictures for her 30 Day Photo Challenge – #Make30Photos. More about that when I've finished the full set (8 taken, 22 to go!)

Vacation Begins and The Force Awakens

How I Spent My First Day of Winter Vacation

Our 31 year old son treated the three of us to The Force Awakens, and on top of it all, my husband and I were eligible for the senior priced tickets! Over many, many years we have made a bit of a tradition of attending opening day or night, or fairly close to that, for The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Star Wars movies with one or both of our sons. One year we even saw a Harry Potter movie in Paris with both our sons and our older son's girlfriend, who is now his spouse. And one year we saw another Harry Potter movie in the summer, not long after my father died, hoping the movie would provide some solace. Alas, it was the Harry Potter movie I liked the least! (Perhaps influenced by my general mood?)

Had to smile for today's movie – my husband (then my boyfriend) and I saw the very first Star Wars, what is now known as Episode 4, in 1977 when we were students in college. The Force Awakens was every bit as entertaining and fun as the original Star Wars, and far superior to Episodes 1, 2 and 3. Not saying a peep more lest I give away a spoiler. Just go see it, sit back, and enjoy!

First image: my picture of today's ticket; second image; third image

Addendum: My husband shared this succinct Star Wars Summary - Episodes 1-6 Explained in 9 Minutes. 


ON My Hair

I love my hair. Always have. Curly. Red. Hygrometer. Long. Link to my Dad's father and my Mother's aunts. 

When I was somewhere under the age of 10 my Dad's mother told me – in no uncertain terms – that I would grow up to appreciate my hair. What she didn't know is I appreciated it from the very start. However, that doesn't mean I always knew what to do with it or how to wear it in a way that best suited my face. 

As a child it seemed all hair lengths looked fine on me. As an adult, I have savored my long hair, only to look back at pictures and realize that a shorter length might have been more becoming while also helping my hair to be more healthy. In high school (1968-1972) it seemed that only the counter-culture kids had long, curly hair, the brainy kids had short curly hair, and everyone else had straight hair. I didn't define myself by the first two categories so therefore opted for the third.

Creating straightness from luscious curls meant a two and a half hour ordeal. 

  • wash and cream rinse hair
  • comb out wet hair
  • at the top of my head wrap some hair around a jumbo roller and secure with a long hair clip (imagine a "hat" consisting of a roller with hair wrapped around it)
  • slowly take remaining wet hair and wrap it around my head's contours making a circle around the top roller, and secure the hair in multiple locations using long hair clips (imagine four or five metal braces spaced out vertically around my head)
  • sit under a bonnet-style hairdryer for 90 minutes till hair was dry 

Since my hair is a hygrometer, on humid days it would frizz or curl up. Ah, the foibles of teenager-hood – once (just once!) I left school during a study hall to go home and redry my hair so it would be straight again instead of displaying the humidity-inspired curls. If I only know then that as an adult I would bemoan the dry New York winters when my hair appears more straight than curly…

Hair has always been an expression of me. When my weight was off, due to pregnancy, health or poor eating habits, my hair was the physical trait that redeemed my self-image. Over the years sunshine, chlorinated pools and age have lightened the deep red. I still consider myself a redhead and wince when someone refers to me as a blonde. Strawberry-blonde, yes, but simply a blonde, no way!

I have read that red hair turns gray more slowly than other hair colors. A close inspection of my hair would tell you that what appears as the blonder highlights is actually red hair slowly turning gray. I am embracing this metamorphosis. 

This post was inspired by a handsome young man I know who just last night shared his almost shaved head, having first grown his locks to about shoulder length. 

Redheaded statistics (from 100 Trillion Good Bacteria Living in the Human Body by Paul Rockett):

Approximately 1% of the world's population are redheads. 

Redheads have an average of 86,000 hair strands. (An average of 100,000 strands of hair are on a human head, and redheads have the fewest strands.)

ABOUT the Learning Lab

Eileen Fisher is a designer of women's clothing. She is also a passionate learner, continually looking at life through new sets of lenses. She works to share that passion within her company and with the larger world. To that end, she conceived The Learning Lab as a place to create "positive change" within yourself and, ultimately, within the world.

Thanks to Deb, my first yoga teacher, for forwarding the email announcing the Learning Lab's Fall's offerings. The Lab hosts five talk-workshop combos, and an ongoing series of hands-on crafting workshops. All of the workshops are out of my budget range, however each of the talk-workshop combos includes a free Friday evening talk the evening prior to the paid Saturday workshop, and I've attended two of these Friday talks. After attending the first talk in the series, and then writing my Welcome post for this blog… 

…I decided the evening would be part of the mantra for my future. Someone who gets Out and About.

I am an avid practitioner of yoga (since March 2005) and have taken numerous workshops geared to teaching seated yoga, seated dance, and Dance for Parkinson's. Throughout my years of practicing many of my teachers have read Danna Faulds poetry to begin or conclude a class. The opportunity to hear Danna read her poetry in person was too great to resist, so off Deb and I went to the first Friday evening talk Realization Within Reach - Yoga As A  Doorway

Danna read her poetry as accompaniment to Richard's (her husband) talk. Together they invited us into their vision of yoga. Their gentle approach included part talk, part interactive exercises with the person sitting next to each of us, and part group contemplation. Their collaborative sharing was part of my inspiration for getting this blog up and running, and for renewing my home personal yoga practice. (Am delighted to say I've been practicing every weekday morning for the past seven weeks!)

Last night I attended my second Friday evening talk, Neuromovement for a Virbant Life with Anat Baniel. I was intrigued to learn more about "the cutting edge of neuroscience and the mind-body connection" as these two topics have interested me since 2007, when I first began writing about the brain at Neurons Firing

As Anat launched into her presentation my understanding of neuroscience was refreshed by hearing familiar words and concepts that I had read and blogged about. However, as the evening progressed something started to feel off to me. Perhaps it was the way in which Anat guided us through some movement explorations or the way she responded to audience questions or the way she seemed to be "hawking" her approach; I will have to mull this over and try to determine what it was that did not sit well. Meanwhile, if you are interested in the content of her talk, I've written about it at Neurons Firing.

Despite this, the evening was well worth my heading out on a dark Friday evening. It was proof that I can get Out and About! And there was the added gift of running into four friends at the talk, none of us expecting the others but none of us surprised that we were each there. After all, we all have movement thru yoga in common!

It's a Wrap! (November)

There is no doubt that being photographed in my (mostly) work outfits helps me think more about how I put them together. My hope is by starting now I will form a habit that – come January, February and early March – will keep me more balanced (i.e. having fun!) through the winter. I live in the northeast of the US where there is plenty of winter sunshine, but light arrives late and dark comes early, thus making it difficult to get enough sunny outdoor time during the workweek. I was determined to wear my summer dresses through Thanksgiving, and for the most part the weather made this comfortably possible.

Among other photography improvements, I need to learn to stay still and not laugh during picture taking! All pictures taken with my iPhone 4S; home photos by Fred (my husband) and school photos by Jeremy (my office mate).

1 – Have always been a fan of men's wear for women. Only "men's" item is my husband's tie, all of which he stopped wearing 20+ years ago. Gap pants and button down; Land's End sweater; Boots an unknown non-leather brand purchased about 15 years ago for $35 (helps to have a shoe repair shop in the neighborhood!); Earrings by my husband.

2 & 3 – I love summer dresses! This is my office at the school where I teach. Gap dress, tee and blazer; French leggings; Belgian Hush Puppy shoes (Why don't they market their European styles in the US?); Earrings by my husband.

4 – Not so sure I like this dress anymore – it needs a statement necklace and perhaps a belt. Will try those next time and see if my mind is changed. Athleta dress; Gap sweater.

5 – Jeans. Enough said. :-) (More in a future post about jeans and me coming of age around the same time.) Talbot's jeans; Ann Taylor sweater; Necklace prototype by my husband; Giraffe a gift from my Aunt to our grandchildren.

6 – Another summer dress! Gap dress and sweater; Necklace by my husband.

7 – It was chilly so the over sweater became the under sweater.

8 – Not a work outfit but I smiled to wear classic outer wear on the weekend instead of my typical fleece jacket.

9 & 10 – Birthday celebration outfit, with close up of pattern.

11 & 12 – My other pair of jeans. LL Bean jeans; Gap sweater; Tunic cut down from a below-the-knee dress purchased in Olympia, WA; Earrings by my husband.

13, 14, 15 & 16 – Yet another summer dress, pattern mixed with straight leg light-weight jeans. Dress H&M; Gap jeans purchased for $10 approximately 20 years ago; Land's End cardigan; Belgian Hush Puppy shoes (super comfortable, easy for hours on end of walking or standing).

17 – Pants purchased when I filled them out more fully. Not sure I like how they now look. Gap pants; Belgian scarf; J.Jill sweater.

18 – Trying out the wearing of two scarves (idea from whatiwore2day). LL Bean jeans; Talbot's top; Gap scarves; Uniqlo ultra light down jacket (draped on the bed).

19 – Going for comfort the last day before Thanksgiving break! Land's End sweater; LL Bean pajama top (just arrived in the mail - I needed new bottoms but had to buy as a set - comfortable and nice enough to make this my first wearing, plus it was the pop of color this outfit needed!); Super comfortable chevron striped bamboo skirt by Yala, purchased at Shift eco-boutique in Orleans, MA this past August; Earrings from Quito, Ecuador, gift from my daughter-in-law.

20 – Ha, last day before Thanksgiving break I wore one pajama top and first day back (you can just see the top of the red pattern peeking out) the other pajama top! Garnet Hill dress; LL Bean pajama top (underneath); Gap sweater; H&M tights; same boots noted in first outfit; story teller earrings. 


BOLD: patterns or otherwise

BOLD

adjective

  1. (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.
  2. (of a color or design) having a strong or vivid appearance.

noun

  1. a bold typeface or letter

I have always admired the vivid patterns of many African textiles and Indian saris. The colors and patterns strike me as warm, upbeat, soothing, and lively. And yes, bold.

Bold dressing is new to me, the wearing of bold patterns, patterns that run over an entire garment, colors that scream their presence. In recent years I have come to embrace the wearing of such clothing and am gradually adding these items to my wardrobe. I began with tops. It has always been easier to pair bold tops with solid bottoms as tops take up much less real estate than a dress or pants, making them an easy way to adjust to wearing visual punch.

As I make this transition from wearing mostly solids to clothing that displays more of my personality, it strikes me as curious that while I have always been considered a lively (even bold) person, my confidence in dressing did not equal the confidence I display in my professional life. It took courage for me to place bold colors and patterns on my 5' 2" petite frame. I appreciate my body and overall image but have not always felt that way. At those times about the only colors I liked were solid, muted ones, and the only patterns I liked were so subtle that it was difficult to discern the pattern, and forget about the clothing fitting properly! (That's a whole other post topic.)

I have also noticed that while my spring, summer and fall wardrobes are full of bold patterns (pants, tops and dresses), my winter dresses are still mostly in the grays, save for one red print purchased just last year. Hmm, may have to begin to remedy that in this coming season!

I would also like to thank Kasmira Kit's posts (in particular, Color Yourself Happy and How to Mix Patterns) and Sheila at Ephemera for providing guidance and inspiration!

And thanks Catherine, of Not Dressed As Lamb, for another new #iwillwearwhatilike dressing challenge. I picked one outfit to share plus one photo of my favorite bold patterns. Photos of the rest will appear in November's end-of-month wrap-up of favorite outfits.

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Floral dress made to measure by a woman I met this past summer at a Chatham (Cape Cod, MA) Arts Festival. She had on display tens of colorful, boldly patterned dresses for young girls and we couldn't resist buying a ladybug dress for our granddaughter. The styling was exactly my taste in summer dresses, so I had to inquire: Do you make dresses for adults? Yes, she said, often. :-)

Pants from the Gap. Tye-die from a funky store in downtown Olympia, WA. Originally a below-the-knee length, this Fall I chopped off the bottom to make it a tunic (thanks again to inspiration from Kasmira!) Floral dress, see above. Second floral dress from H&M, purchased on the advice of my daughter-in-law. Both florals are similar style – fitted bodice and flared bottom, lighter weight material so no added bulk with the flare.



15th on the 8th yields 61st

Growing up just a stone's throw from Manhattan, my family (Mom, Dad, my brother and me) attended many performances of ballet and theatre. My parents would take us to the City multiple times a year to celebrate one or the other of our birthdays with dinner out followed by a performance. My favorite was going to Lincoln Center to see the New York City Ballet. Second to that was getting caught up in the magic of a musical, especially when there was singing AND dancing. That combination of music and movement, made all the better if there was a catchy tune to be hummed upon leaving the theatre, ignited my imagination.

With great pleasure, this year my Aunt gifted me the delight of returning to Broadway to celebrate my birthday, and in doing so to conjure up those many memories of Manhattan outings with my family. On the 8th of November my daughter-in-law and I went to see An American in Paris on Broadway! This was my daughter-in-law's first musical and first outing to Times Square and Broadway, as well as her first drive into the city via the West Side Highway. Our combined excitement practically floated us into the City!

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15th (of November, my birthday) celebrated on the 8th yields a lovely start to a celebration of my 61st! I've always found it curious that we celebrate birthdays at the end of the year being celebrated. Turning 61 really means finishing 61 years and starting the 62nd. A birthday is both a celebration of a conclusion and a send off of a startup.

On the school day closest to my birthday I always like to wear a special outfit. Turns out the past few years I've tended to wear the same colorful dress, probably for sentimental reasons and because I thoroughly enjoy the feeling it gives me. In 2012 I went for a week's visit with my son and not-yet daughter-in-law who were living in Brussels, her home town. My evening flight wound up being delayed almost 13 hours, rendering my evening in a terminal at JFK. Part of the time I explored the shops, which is how desigual came to my awareness, though no purchase was made because it's never less expensive in an airport store!

While in Brussels I mentioned the store to S, who explained it was a Spanish shop, there was a store in downtown Brussels, and would I like to see it. Well, of course we went! I found a short-sleeve asymmetrical-hemmed gray patterned tunic and a perfectly colored green-blue patterned dress. Combined, they were beyond my budget, so I sighed and purchased the tunic. S insisted I have the dress as well. Stating it looked perfect on me, she went ahead and bought it as an early birthday gift. Her kindnesses (in taking me shopping while she was just days from her due date and making sure the dress went home with me) are imbued in the dress. And to top it off, their first child - our granddaughter - was born four days later! (I missed her arrival by three days!)

Photos by Fred

The pose is a tip of the hat to Sheila, who makes posing look so effortless and natural. 

Detail on desigual

and my new lunch box! (a birthday gift)




Going to the Chapel & We're Gonna Get Married

I loved that song, Chapel of Love by The Dixie Cups, 1964. I was 10 years old.

Fast forward 14 years to 1978 and I really did go to the chapel and get married to a wonderful person! We're still at it 37 years later. :-)

Catherine, of Not Dressed As Lamb, has shared a new dressing challenge due today: The Wearing My Wedding Dress Challenge, to be tagged #iwillwearwhatilike. I hadn't planned on posting quite so soon after birthing my blog just this past weekend, but this was an irresistible challenge!

Three parts of our wedding were homemade – our wedding invitation (see photos in the gallery below), our wedding music composed by my Mom for our ceremony, and my wedding dress (also in the photo gallery). The invitation turned out as we had hoped, my Mom's composition was touching and lovely, and my wedding dress, well, it was a lesson in humility!

I had wanted to make my own wedding dress and picked out a romantic pattern with a fitted bodice and gently flowing skirt. My plan was to make it all of lace. Mom took me shopping, fully trusting my "Of course I can do this!" After all, I had sewn a few items of clothing (a skirt, a blouse, simple pieces), so how difficult could a wedding dress be? We purchased the appropriate amount of gorgeous white lace (it had a specific name long-since forgotten) and I set to work.

About eight weeks before our wedding date I came to the stark realization that my skills were not up to the task. Having already begun, I was facing a dress that was not looking like the one on the cover of the pattern and – regardless of what I might be able to do – would never look like the one in the pattern, if indeed I ever managed to complete the dress. Once again, Mom to the rescue. She found a seamstress who would revise the design, incorporate whatever she could from my attempts, and have it ready prior to our wedding date. 

I kept my dress for years but didn't know the first thing about preserving a wedding dress made of lace. It hung in a closet in our attic, taken out a few times to appreciate and see if it still fit. The last time it was taken out I managed to fit into it, but sadly the lace was discolored in several spots and the dress looked like it needed more TLC than I could provide. In one of those moments of "it's not the dress that's important" I tossed it. Yes, I tossed it. And yes, now I'm wishing I hadn't. Ah well.