Blue Berries Is Come The Stars, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:04am

I continue to volunteer in a local first grade classroom, twice a week. I am surprised by how much is expected of the children, and by the good will with which they attempt to comply.

I’m there to help with literacy. What that means exactly has evolved over the year.

There are 23 kids in the class, all but four of them speak only Spanish at home. Two of the Spanish-speakers haven’t yet learned English. And yet they are all starting to read and write in this new language. Can you imagine?

Is this a primary marker of the immigrant experience? Home is one thing, your future in the new country another. And when your family is only marginally literate, and you are learning to read in a language they don’t speak, does the gap grow? I imagine a divide not only between parent and child, but also between the child’s own feelings about her emotional self and her self of performance and participation in society.

I could be wrong. I’m a full-blown amateur.

In any case, two stories from Thursday.

The classroom is set up with small tables and chairs, four kids to a table. Each seated spot has a desk-like cubby for pencils etc., each kid takes the same spot every day. Usually the teacher sits or stands up front. When I come, I have my own little u-shaped table by the window. I sit inside the U, four kids at a time sit along the outside, looking at me. We can talk quietly, and I have complete freedom to take a half and hour for each group wherever it will go.

When it was her group’s turn, O was first to the table. She said as she pulled out her chair, “The police came and took my mom to prison but she is going to come back. My big sister and me are staying at my grandma’s.” She sat down. She is usually almost wholly silent, whispering her answers when she does respond, occasionally getting caught in a flight of fancy from which she extracts herself with difficulty. That day she participated, chattering away. Happily.

When it was time for the next group, J ran up with a little hop, as usual. J spoke only Spanish when he first arrived in September. While his accent still makes him a little difficult for me to understand, his sheer enthusiasm for whatever he has to communicate carries the day. He’s confident.

A note. I usually combine drawing with the literacy work, trying to allow the kids to integrate their emotions and aesthetics with what they are learning about language.

I could be wrong.

When I told this group “Today we are going to draw and write about anything that is your favorite.” J immediately said, “Blueberries,” and began to draw, four blue circles with green hats.

Then I asked the kids for some sentences about why they liked their favorites. J covered his paper, telling me it was a surprise. He wrote, without help, except on how to spell “delicious,”

“I think blueberries is delicious because the blue berries because is come the stars”

I asked him why he said that. “Because my mother is tell me this,” he said. “My mother, she call me, ‘Sweetie, time for lunch.”

I don’t really have a point, or a larger idea to articulate. We all know children are endearing. We all know children have mothers of one sort or another.

But I have read that a sense of purpose is the strongest component of a happy life, and that’s what I am finding.

Have a wonderful weekend.

The Polished Tomboy’s 2017 Spring & Summer Uniform

I didn’t set out to build a Spring uniform, but here we are.

Untitled #215


Any time I want to leave the house looking put together I find I reach for my high-waisted cropped/ankle jeans (try 100% denim, you might be surprised how good it feels), a graphic/patterned tee, excellent shoes, and a light functional (AKA derived from a piece of clothing previously wore for a certain function, not meaning “non-broken”) jacket.


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The brown Marants have proven to be quite versatile. They’ll work for fall and winter too.

Here are some other options, at a range of price points (except Birkenstocks because why on earth buy a lookalike?) I’ll be dressed like this until that week this summer when our temperatures exceed 90 degrees and I flee, flushed, to maxidresses. The Gucci slides might follow, I imagine block-heeled sandals will play a supporting role.

BTW, UNIQLO is having a Three Tees for the Price of Two promotion, here. Moomintrolls included.

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Out And About In The Virtual World, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:23am

This week in the world on our screens.

I posted an open letter to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, on Medium. A Medium editor liked it and put it in the top few recommended for that day. I was quite gratified.

I went to a yoga class and emerged blissful, on Twitter.

Fran, of the blog Franish, matched for her residency program in a couples match with her new fiancé. All the congratulations.

And Sue of Une Femme d’un Certain Age and Allyson Walsh of That’s Not My Age were featured in Good Housekeeping. Good things for good people.

If you have good news or an accomplishment you’d like to celebrate below, please do. I love to applaud my friends. I hope you have wonderful weekends.

Bandanas Of The Heart And Hearth

As the USA moves into spring we applaud the sun and light (even as we shiver in the evening or wake up to a blanket of March snow.)

Is sky blue and cozy the perfect spring pairing?

I recently bought this small “lace” cashmere scarf.


Perfect for spring days when the wind is colder than the sky would suggest. Worn under my Barbour, or J. Crew field jacket, a Northern California layering strategy par excellence.  Unfortunately Bompard sold out, but similar options are legion. Winter will come again.

I might also replace the throw blanket I bought this winter. As the weather lightens, tobacco-colored wool feels heavy.

I’m thinking yet more sky. Blue from periwinkle to cornflower to aqua to someone’s eyes.

And maybe new cushions! Spring warmth all around.

Somehow this brings to mind the bandanas of my teenage years, how jaunty but shy I felt the first time I tied one around my neck.

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When You Learn You Don’t Know As Much As You Might Have Thought You Did, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

Since I announced I’d be changing my writing practice, moving to Medium to write about politics, I’ve been reminded of two little truths.

First, learning something new presents difficulties you won’t foresee. Second, habits matter as much or more than intent.

Leaning something new, well, I’ve learned that politics are hard. Ha! Cue riotous laughter all around. I should be more specific. Politics are hard to write about.

See, while I can develop a political opinion pretty quickly – see a pattern and make an observation – this snap judgment methodology takes me only about 80% of the way to a substantive thought. In style, 80% works. The final 20% you can muster with bluster, impunity and good hair. But 80% in politics drives you to the border of insight and dumps you there, standing on the dry ground of your particular ideological camp. Surrounded by weeds.

Besides, political opinions affect life and death. Denim silhouettes, not. These days writing takes longer.

And the importance of habit? In the past seven years I had spent six days/week, 7-11am, either writing or pretending to as I poked around the Internet. Except when I was working, when I wrote from 6-8am and then all Sunday morning. A serious writing schedule.

When I decided to give up consistent style blogging, I also gave up  four mornings/week of those allocated time slots to volunteer teaching or yoga classes. Surprise, the remaining three don’t give me enough time and space, because it does feel like mental space, to publish regularly.

Why tell you all of this? Well, first of all, because you’re my community for thinking about life. But also, maybe, this is a useful story. If my experience is to be trusted, making changes can be more difficult than expected. If you are planning a shift, be ready for a bumpy start. I don’t think it means you’re doing it wrong. And make sure that you set yourself up an infrastructure of habit and ritual as support.

I’m sorting this out. After all, nobody depends on me right now. Few dominoes have fallen.

But if you’re in the middle of a more complex change, maybe it helps to hear how best-laid plans, even for the well-resourced, can sputter. I suspect you’re doing an excellent job.

Have a wonderful weekend and here’s to never ever giving up learning.

Local Girl Makes Good, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:23am

Remember these tights, from this post on same? By Marilyn Pollack Naron, the drawing is practical and charming at once.

Happily, you can now browse a whole website of Marilyn’s work. So endearing. Want to be cheered up, or, alternatively, add to your already broad smile? Go look.

Wait, there’s more, she has also illustrated a cookbook about meatloaf, authored by Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer.

In other, sadder news, Leslie at Hostess Of The Simple Bungalow has lost her mother. She might feel support in condolences.

Me I’ve done nothing lately except host a presumably quite robust rhinovirus. Cough. Am recovering. I hope you’re all healthy and that you have a good weekend.


A Proposed Methodology For Lips Over 50

I’ve written about lipstick before, here, and here. But I stumbled upon my current favorite when shopping with my daughter. Motivated by a desire for safer ingredients, we found this, by Bare Minerals.

A matte liquid lipstick, it’s quickly kicked all my other lip colorants to the curb. The first application surprises, this stuff slips on like liquid clay. But it’s also surprisingly easy to use precisely, so no need for pencil outlining. I let it dry, then add lip balm on top. This is the most natural look I’ve ever found – not cake-y like some lipsticks, not overly shiny like a gloss. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say matte liquid lipstick + lip balm looks like an actual lip. Miraculous.

I first bought the shade above that renders either as a  cool dusty pink or a slightly warm brown pink, depending on the colors you’re wearing. It’s called Boss, and they say it’s a dirty pink beige. I like my descriptors better. Works for my coloring about 95% of the time.

But on those occasions when I wear a fuchsia scarf, I need to go brighter and pinker on the lip. So I just bought this from the Sephora line, in Sweet Raspberry. Inexpensive, also safe ingredients. Not quite as luxe in feeling as the Bare Minerals, and technically a “cream lip stain,” whatever that means, but so many colors!

I’m not sure I’ll ever wear solid lipstick again.

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Out And About In The Virtual World, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:27am


On Instagram, some spinners.

The whirligigs of Year of the Rooster.

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On Medium, my struggle to understand the emotional infrastructure of political positions.

On Twitter, two book recommendations.

And other voices.

Dani at Mop Philosopher gives us a couple of recent posts full of outfit color for a trip to Italy. The perfect Saturday morning browse.

I do miss you guys. Hope all is well.


That Same Dress, Yes, Again, New Boots

#TBT, as they say, Throwback Thursday, to Valentine’s Day night.

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As we see I succumbed to the brown boots, and having done so, realized I longed for a little blue to liven the look. Luckily, I’m blue-endowed. And so it went.

Blue MaxMara three-quarters coat, same Prada dress I plan to keep wearing as long as I can, brown Dickers, and the earrings I had customized on Etsy for my brother’s wedding.

The brown boots and fishnet stockings are infinitely more playful and less classic than black boots and black tights, but that felt right for the night.

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If You Give A Style Sort Some Black Boots She’s Going To Want The Brown Ones Too

The other night we went out to dinner at Boulevard, a San Francisco institution. I wanted to get fancy, although it’s never required here, so I wore my Prada dress. Also black Isabel Marant Dickers, black Wolford tights, Blue Nile earrings, and this MaxMara camel coat. As I looked in the mirror, I realized I’d get a lot of use out of brown shoes to wear with that same dress.

After all, Prada is not inexpensive, and the fabric is woven to last another decade – at least. It would be only sensible to increase its versatility. Sensible used advisedly.

Untitled #214


The next day, we went shopping for a Valentine’s Day present. Early, but we were in the mood. We happened upon a Kenzo tiger tee in bright pink, and I found myself wearing it that night, again with the camel coat. And thought, “Hmm, brown shoes might do better here too.”

As it happens, Marant now makes her Dickers in a brown leather. I know they fit, I know they are comfortable, I’ve had my black ones for five years. I’m mulling it over.

Brown shoes or not, if you were also unaware of how well camel suits pink, isn’t this a happy circumstance? You did already know that one spectacular dress is often more useful than ten that are simply acceptable.


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