Summer Break


In honor of summer, that blue-eyed 40-year old dancing under a pergola who throws back her head to feel her hair on her shoulders, I’m taking a few weeks off.

See you in August, I wish you all possible fun under the sun.

Regrouping And Reconnecting In Napa Valley


Sunday morning I realized I had completely forgotten to publish anything the day before. That’s the first time I’ve skipped a Saturday post, unaware. Why?

A family gathering!

Last weekend many of us went back up to the spot now re-branded as the Carneros Resort and Spa. My husband and I had been several times when it was the Carneros Inn. This time we took my father, my stepmother, all my siblings and most of their children too. My kids, sadly and happily, were both busy being grownups. Next time we will make sure they can come too.

We rented two houses. With courtyards full of vegetation, dining tables, sun umbrellas and arbors.

And a rooftop seating areas with vistas.

Also great kitchens and eating spaces.

This area overflowed very easily into the courtyard, which thoughtfully featured a stone table under wisteria. Perfect for the eating of grilled substances and the shucking and consumption of corn on the cob.

I have to show you this imposing bathroom. There was a second sink, have no fear.

On this visit we avoided the Hillside pool (you can see it here in this previous post, and this one. Oh, and this one.) We did spend lots of time at the family pool, however. Ordered lunch at the snacks window. That, in my book, is the greatest luxury.

Although the rebrand has changed the feel of Carneros (more glam, fewer locals at the bar, less gravel, more pavement), the vineyard hills haven’t gone anywhere.

The dinners at Farm are still creative and delicious, especially eaten outside bordering a game yard, where small and medium children play bocce ball and beanbag toss. There’s pork belly under them thar nasturtiums.

Paths still walk you through fig and pear trees, past gaura and roses and succulents.

I am grateful.

Watching my 10-year old nephew reading to the 4-year old. Overhearing my nieces at table, teenagers with phones and still for all that girls. Sitting at dusk with my sisters, just chatting as the light grew both weaker and stronger at once. Waving my brother off on a bicycle ride. Walking slowly with my father and stepmother. My dearly, dearly beloved husband.

It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to draw family together in a beautiful place and I no longer take these things for granted.

 

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How To Start A Yoga Practice Without Feeling Either Inept Or Overly Annoyed


I’ve found that yoga is the best possible thing for this 60+ year old body. And soul, for that matter.

I know this isn’t true for everyone. I believe those who say they have tried yoga and don’t like it, because I’ve tried running, and it’s similarly not for me. But I’ve also heard from others who have given it a shot and find it confusing. So this is for the beginners. A couple of approaches to laying a teeny introductory foundation.

Which, in retrospect, would have been useful when I was starting out.

I’ve included:

  1. A list of 7 basic poses, links to the associated Yoga Journal posts for an expert description.
  2. Two wholly amateur short videos of yours truly doing the 7 poses, complete with commentary. I speak into a yoga mat only once.
  3. A link to a recommended 50-minute video Yoga for Beginners session.
  4. Suggestions for simple clothing and mats.

Once you’ve prepared yourself with one or several of these introductions, next steps should be easier. Introverts can subscribe to a good online yoga service and practice at home. Extroverts can find a studio and a class they like. (BTW, finding the right studio is important. Make sure they offer beginning classes. And then take 2-3 of these from different teachers until you find yours. It’s really not one size fits all with yoga and teachers.)

7 Yoga Poses To Get You Started (And To Keep Reviewing, I’ve Learned A Lot By Following These Links Just This Week;))

  1. Cat Cow and Tabletop
  2. Child’s Pose
  3. Down Dog
  4. Warrior One
  5. Warrior Two
  6. Triangle
  7. Tadasana

These are by no means all you might be asked to do in your first class, but I hope that with this foundation the teacher can talk you through any other poses or variations.

The 7 Basic Poses As Shown In 2 Short Videos By A 60-Year Woman Of Cheerful But Irritable And Impatient Disposition

Me, doing and talking about the 7 poses. I am not perfect, not even always very good, but I thought these might help anyone who would be comforted or encouraged by my total amateur practice and surprising lack of shame. The rest of you are more than welcome to stay for the amusement. I’ll pause for popcorn acquisition.

First, 3 minutes on the floor. Note: parts of my body will leave the frame. See impatient disposition.

Yoga Floor Moves from LPC on Vimeo.

And 4.5 minutes of standing poses. You will notice that I was a dope and stood in front of a small table desk so you can’t really see my hips but hey, just as well, since you should really look at the Yoga Journal links to see this done right.

You will also  that this video is blurry. I have no idea why.

If you’d like to take a step past watching my routine, Adrienne’s online classes have been recommended. This one below is specifically targeted at beginners.

Yoga Class By Someone Who Knows What They Are Doing

Yoga For Beginners – The Basics

 Yoga Clothes For All Of Us That We Can Also Wear To Visit Our Mothers And To The Grocery Store

And finally, if you’ve decided you’re game to start practicing regularly, you should get yourself a mat. Studios rent them, but I find those are usually too thin or too slippery. I’ve had one Manduka and one from Gaiam, I’ve liked them both.

You’re also going to want comfortable clothes. I like the Athleta brand myself. Simple. I wear capris for the most part, but occasionally bootleg if it’s cold or I have to go somewhere afterwards and I feel capris might be too casual. Covering my ankles in black technical fabric counts as formality. Go figure. Note: High waisted pants with a very wide waistband are key.

I don’t need much bust support, so for tops I wear either:

  1. A long cotton tank with light-weight sports bra. Make sure the tank is long enough and stretchy enough to stay on your hips when you bend down.
  2. Two athletic tanks on top of each other.
  3. A yoga tank with built in bra. Here, I stay away from complicated. Each additional strap or cutout just offers one more opportunity to put your head into an armhole.
  4. Athleta brand for modesty
  5. Sandals as often as possible. You have to take your shoes off to go into the studio, might as well Athleta brand.

And there you have it, my friends, multiple aids to starting a yoga practice. Prose, photos, a short class, and me not minding making of a fool of myself because I am so happy to share. Also, these videos pointed out areas for my own improvement, so thank you!

Namaste. Which, means, approximately, as I understand it, welcome, and I honor you as part of the divine.

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Other People’s Good Words, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:29am


Right now I like what other people are writing so much that I think I’ll stay quiet and post their links.

Have a very nice weekend.

Just realized that I haven’t got the stomach for political discourse here today. Have edited my post accordingly.

The Salubrious Effect Of Someone Else’s Friendly Eyes And Someone Else’s Stories


Here’s an excellent Vancouver wall!

Oh, and I’m wearing a cheap old black trench, brown Bottega Veneta messenger, a new pair of cropped black Vince pants (cuffed! 60% off on sale!), tiger-printed Gucci slides, gold hoops, and a vintage silk Ferragamo blouse that was an early birthday present from my son.

He bought it on eBay. I have never before worn vintage, unless we count those pieces I bought myself 15 years ago. My son thought the big cats on the blouse, and its coloring, would go well with my shoes.

How right he was.

Photo credit, BTW, to the ineffable Susan at Une Femme.

Evolving That Personal Style With A Little Help From Your Friends

At first, developing a strong personal style requires that we ignore other people’s voices, whether in reality or our minds. We stop listening to anything like, “Your hips are too big, your hips are too small, you aren’t pretty enough, you are too pretty, stop showing off, start showing your face.”

But once we’ve shut down the mean, opening ourselves to friendly lenses and voices can be fun. Edifying, even.

Remember when Susan and I dressed each other for parallel blog posts? OK, so I didn’t ditch my pencil skirts and pumps directly, but I edge towards Carine Roitfeld incrementally. More recently, albeit less dramatically, Susan gave me a thumbs up on the brown bag with black trench at top, as it picked up my tiger-printed slides. As you can see from the splash of red above, she knows bag colors.

This trip to Vancouver introduced me to another a brilliant style influence. Meet Mel, of Bag And A Beret. If you haven’t already, of course.

Mel of Bag and A Beret Wearing Sky Blue Bomber Jacket

I’m spotlighting one of her tomboy outfits here, but as you can see here, and here, she’s a chameleon. And an Instagram star.

Mel took me and Susan on an Alice in Wonderland tour of Holt Renfrew. Dolce and Gabbana as the Mad Hatter. Victoria Beckham, Queen of Hearts. Fabulous. I tried on a sweater. By Miu Miu if I remember? (Nope. Susan corrected me, it’s Marni. And was on sale for half price.) Colors classic and primary. East Coast heritage, through a Milan lens.

Mel took a couple of photos.

Another way to see oneself.

In the end the sweater didn’t quite fit. But the lesson on Transmuting Preppy to Intellectual Rocker – as Mel described my style – did.

Back To Earth, With Traces Of Wonderland

This trip also reminded me of how nice a trench can look (fits broad shoulders really well), even when it’s not raining.

Inexpensive Trenches In Multiple Colors And Slides To Go With

If you’d like to try your own hand at eBay-ing vintage Italian pieces, here are a few to consider. BTW, I was terrified of odor – and when my blouse arrived it did smell at first of perfume and cigarettes. Bleh. But, I patted it down with vodka a couple of times, aired it outside my closet, and it’s completely fine. Ferragamo isn’t Gucci or D&G; you’ll find their vintage gives you Italian sprezzatura for less.

Vintage Silk Ferragamo Blouses On eBay

How about a shoe print?

Or purple stripes and butterflies?

This one has a lion AND a tiger.

 

Thanks to everyone who urges us, with affection, to try something new. To step on out.

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Just A Simple Thank You, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:19am


 

I’ve just returned from a trip. Do you all remember that Sue from Une Femme and I attended New York Fashion Week together last year? As it happened, we got along so swimmingly, and found ourselves to be such well-suited travel companions, that we thought we’d go somewhere together again.

And then, ages and ages ago, I had met Frances of Materfamilias, with her husband, in San Francisco, and so enjoyed our conversation that I’d vowed to visit her in Vancouver some day.

And so it came to pass. Sue and I flew up, Sue from Southern California, me from the Bay Area.

 

Let me reveal that I haven’t felt the need to make new real-life friends in the past couple of decades. I am lucky in my family, which is large and good at talking, I have a best friend of more than 20 years – we chat on the phone several days a week. I’m quite devoted to my new marriage and my children.

So I have blogged because I love to write, I love taking pictures, and thinking about design, I love emails that let me know someone’s been helped or amused and comments from readers wiser, better-read, simply more themselves than I. I have loved this process of self-examination in good company.

But when you meet a couple of women, online, and then write side-by-side with them for going on 10 years, the real life conversations illuminate, reassure, entertain, comfort, and deepen connection. There’s a way in which this online relationship-building slides you into friendship sideways, takes you past possible barriers – distance, life differences, whatever – to a place you can’t predict but must value.

These are people from whom I learn things I cannot find out on my own.

So thanks to my travel companion, our wonderful hosts, and to new places and people.

Sue posted about our visit here, and Frances, here.

Have a good weekend everyone.

The Best Month In My Home Town, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:58am


June is California’s best month. Wait, I mean northern coast-adjacent California. Oh, to be precise, the San Francisco Peninsula (by the Bay, not the hills or the coast.) We have so many micro-climates, I can only speak to my own.

So, here, June is a drug. Champagne. Eyes-roll-back-into-head beautiful. Sure, March has hellebores, native iris, forget-me-nots, all the shy flowers. May brings hedonistic roses. And it is also true that by June magnolia petals are browning, lawns yellowing, things that grow are preparing for summer sleep.

But for we humans our June weather is almost too gorgeous to talk about.

Sky blue like crayons, cool mornings and cool enough evenings, the smell of the dry ground rising up by noon and slowing the breath.

I do imagine that nobody thinks, hey, it’s June, let’s vacation in Silicon Valley! I imagine June is probably pretty nice where you are. And this place, which once upon a time must have seemed like a wild paradise, (my son once sent me a paragraph written by some Spanish explorers who exclaimed over the area’s beauty and abundance) is long since tamed. First by farms and summer homes for San Francisco magnates, then as by Stanford overflow, then semiconductors – hence the “silicon” – then the Internet, now, well, industry persists.

We got cars. We got freeways. We got a lot of billboards.

But if you live here, and can carve out vacations in 3-minute increments, now is the time. Open your door, sit on the step, glass in hand, and watch the heated dirt give up water it didn’t even know it was hiding. Little bit by little bit we dry. It’s hard to describe, but we who are from here find peace in drying.

Have a very happy weekend. And if you’re planning business trips, no one would blame you if June brought you to Northern California by the Bay.

What, I wonder, is your place’s best month?

Blue Nile’s 18th Anniversary Sale Is On


Blue Nile is offering 20% off some customer favorites, with code 18YEARS. It must be their 18th anniversary, good job guys!

This discount is not nothing when it comes to a quite beautiful “garland” infinity ring originally priced at $4000+.

And subtracts a couple hundred dollars off fancy basics like a diamond solitaire pendant.

Just in case you’re pining for a few  twinkles, or hunting for a graduation present.

 

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Upside Down Backwards Right Way Round, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:02am


Two things happened in yoga this week. Don’t worry, the stories don’t require that you know the practice, or, if you know it, that you like it.

So first, a teacher substituted in my Wednesday beginning class, and taught at an intermediate level. I was fine, I’m ready to edge forward. But there was a woman attending her first session at this studio, and I could see she had trouble following along.

After class I went up to her and said, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to be intrusive, but I wanted to tell you, that was not a beginning class.” She thanked me. I thought I was helping, an experienced person to a novice. But as we spoke it became clear she hadn’t actually minded being out of her depth.

Back when I was working, I went to a few classes above my abilities.  Made me miserable. Never returned. The Wednesday novice was unperturbed, cheerful, ready to do it again. So who was the learned one, we wonder? I’m thinking, not me.

Second, on Friday, in an intermediate but slow-moving class that I love, I found myself briefly in an actual head-stand. If you wonder what that is, because, yoga is always making people go upside down and then calling it something, a headstand looks like this. (You’ll see the woman is really close to a wall. So was I.)

I’ve never had any pose-specific goals for yoga. I’ve wanted to become stronger, more flexible, to relax, to find peace. I assumed that I was never going to go all the way upside down; I didn’t really even mean to do it yesterday. But I followed what the teacher said, trusting in my Sturdy Gal history of strong arms. Very glad of a wall.

“Don’t kick up,” she said, “Just let your leg lift you.” Whoa. Up floated my 60-year old gams, as they might say in England.

And of course it may never happen again. I have no feelings one way or another about that, only the bright memory of 10 seconds upside down, upright. Felt like a bolt of light and breath ran from somewhere above my feet down my body to my head and out my hands.

I love the French word, “bouleversé,” I believe we can tame it for this experience.

Retirement is, for me, above all, the chance for a new relationship with success.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

How The Polished Tomboy Does Layers And Avoids Flapping Fabric


Layering. An excellent strategy to add interest to the extremely casual wardrobe. But tomboys (AKA Sturdy Gals) hate excess fabric. This is partly because it’s hard to carry heavy stuff around when our coats keep getting caught up, and partly because when long cloth panels hang from our broad shoulders we start to look like old-fashioned voting booths. Or superheroes.

Enter short-over-long layers.

You may remember that UNIQLO “Jasper Johns” tank from two summers back, as well as the short cadet blue UNIQLO field jacket from close to always.

Add my new brown Dickers (alert alert these are on sale for 40% off at net-a-porter!), narrow-for-boyfriend 3 year-old Citizen of Humanity jeans (teeny cuff for more texture), a pair of antique gold Swedish chandeliers, some Ray-Ban aviators, a 4-year old Bottega Veneta crossbody messenger, and off we go for dinner. San Francisco nights.

Oh, wait, don’t leave yet. That tank makes for a lotta lotta navy on the chest and belly. Unbroken, it’s ungraceful. Unadorned, the rust flag across the belt line brings to mind a butcher’s apron. So I pulled out another piece of antique jewelry, this time from my father’s family. A lariat locket.

You could also wear something like this, held together with a bar clip or brooch.

There, now we can eat. White bean stew and a gin martini, anyone?

Wholly Recreatable Short-Over-Long

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