How To Choose Earrings For Jeans’ Styles

High WASPs (n.b. California regional variant) dress for balance. We love the cautious subjunctive;  it’s all about the IF statements (and the semi-colon).

  • IF you are wearing navy you want to complement it with something bright.
  • IF your shoes sparkle something else must be matte.
  • IF your pants are tight your top must be loose.

And, the subject of today’s post, IF your jeans are one shape, your earrings must be another. Note: I choose earrings here because they are my primary accessory. One can apply the same principle to shoes, if you’re podiatrically exploratory, or scarves, if you don’t mind all the tying and flapping.

As a first point, if rely on earrings for style in jeans, you’ve got to go beyond diamond studs. At least beyond the small studs, and I prefer danglers to large ones, given the High WASP propensity for attached ear lobes.

If you’re wearing boyfriends, straight, frayed, reminiscent of manual labor, I suggest curves. Some pink.



Jeans: R13 Bowie Wash || Shoes: #1 Birkenstocks #2 Ancient Greek Sandals || Earrings: #1 Pink Chalcedony #2 Silver & Quartz #3 Gold

If you’re wearing bootcuts, with their wavier silhouette, I suggest geometry.



Jeans: J. Brand Katie (if those are too flared, others here) || Shoes: #1 Trina Turk #2 || Earrings: #1 Platinum #2 Blackened silver and gold (I like these too) #3 Gold, labradorite, and teeny pearls

As for skinnies, which I don’t wear but can think about, I believe the earring choice is determined by your shirt. Close-fitting top, swaying earrings. Loose top, structured at the lobe.

For the sake of this exercise, I’ve limited our shoe choice to two pairs for each type of jeans. As I said, some of you are more shoesploratory than I; you’ll balance adventurously (physically and aesthetically) on your feet. Some of you are less subjunctive, more declarative than the High WASP; you’ll pile on multiple accessories.

But here’s the principle that endures; make your choice evident. Show your aesthetic in contrast, buy no look off the shelf, choose sophistication in contradiction and balance.


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That Which We Avoid We Cannot Resolve, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:30am

We spend a lot of time teaching our kids how to get along. How to share, use their words, take a break when things get hot. I’m wondering, now, looking back, whether we should also be teaching them to fight.

Maybe fight is the wrong word. I mean work through conflict. Particularly the blood-boiling sort.

I see now that one of my greatest failings is an inability to stand firm when very angry. It’s not that I back down, as do the timid. Blurters blurt angrily, they throw wine glasses and storm out of conference rooms. But I’m prone to navigate with reason, moving along at 10mph, 40mph, 60mph, 72 mph, just fine, when suddenly, without warning even to myself, I lose my way in unmanaged fury.

Or tears. Anger undoes me.

That is not a way to win a fight. And it’s certainly not the way to move through conflict and come out the other side with sustained relationships.

Knowing this, I’ve tended in these later years to recuse myself, if I can use the judicial word, from hostile or tense situations. Take a past job, for example, where one of my co-workers loved to provoke. He lived for the fight; he targeted me. After a few blowups, I started to back away. I backed away and backed away. I put my team out in front of me, since he for the most part treated them differently.

I backed into my office, but the conflict followed me there and eventually right out the door.

Oh I am in no way advocating self-indulgent abandonment of reason and civility. I find the legions of Silicon Valley executives known for screaming ridiculous. It’s unnecessary and often unproductive. But I wish I’d learned and practiced calm anger. I wish, in many circumstances, not just at work, that I could stand quiet and anchored in the midst of turmoil.

Or, since one must move, sail forward, despite what feels like floods of fire both in my heart and rising somewhere over there.

What you avoid you rarely resolve. I wonder if life will be long enough to learn all the lessons.

Have a wonderful weekend.


A Few Sale Items From J. Crew That Are Worth A Look

Sales are weird these days. Seems like something’s always on, somewhere. In the face of overwhelming choice, lean on experience.

In other words, sale shop your tried and true brands. In my case, that’s J. Crew. They are currently offering an additional 25-30% off their Spring Sale section with code SHOPNOW. Shipping is free for any order over $150.

I know their cashmere isn’t the sturdy Scottish sort, but for not too much more than $100, you can be the lucky wearer of an orange featherweight cardigan. Cheery for transitional weather, killer paired with navy blue.J. Crew Featherweight Cashmere

Comes in pink too. Purple and mint are discounted further.

Or a Jackie cardigan. Merino. Something to spruce up the pencil skirt and tee you’ve worn 635,799 times.

Jackie Cardigan On Sale

I like this pleated silk dress, would be so pretty for my going-on-doctor daughter. Great reviews, apparently not as low-cut as the image would suggest.

J. Crew Silk Dress

There’s more on sale of course. Shoes. (Pink kitten heels!) And bags. But I’m working on the theory here that constrained choice is better choice, and one brilliantly-colored cardigan can be as fun and useful as an entire array of something elses.


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More Options For The Midlife Midriff, Date Night California Style


Last weekend we took my father and stepmother out to dinner at a local restaurant. I couldn’t quite figure out what to wear because my blue shoes were in San Francisco. As will happen.

Rummaging through my closet I found this pink linen tunic, from UNIQLO, and threw it on over a pair of 7 For All Mankind bootleg jeans and old pinkish-red suede Stuart Weitzman kitten heel pumps.

Kitten Heel Stuart Weitzman

A pair of gold, opal and diamond earrings from Hawaii, the Céline bag, straight hair and out I went.

(Side note: I did not plan this as an outfit post, my husband obliged me with an iPhone snap on the steps of an old building. Well, old for Woodside, California. So please forgive the various anomalies of light and focus.)

This is a look that warrants refinement. In other words, I felt great in the tunic and jeans, and plan to repeat — with tweaks. Time to batten down the hatches. The long hair, which I appreciate as an aesthetic object in and of itself, threatens to take over my head. Where it lives. Haircut on the horizon. The linen tunic, while comfortable and forgiving, could use a teeny tweak to the silhouette. Some shaping.

The shoes were good. So was the bag. So were the earrings. I just needed a little less wind in my sails, or more precisely, a little less sail all around.

Tunic Time

I now endorse a casual night out tunic over jeans. Such an excellent way to treat the midlife midriff. So comfortable for a dinner out, especially in jeans with a touch of stretch. But do try to find a tunic with a teeny tiny bit of tailoring – a placket at the neckline, seams on the side, for example. These show potential.

We ate early, finishing at dusk. The night had grown cool, I had no jacket. But good food, good wine and good company keep one warm long enough for a hug goodbye and the walk to the car.


A Little More California Date Night Shopping, Offer Good Around The World

You amy prefer to wear your tunic over skinnies, I like the look with a boot leg. I do think a kitten heel offsets tunic billows well, and geometric jewelry counterpoints better than the expected boho chandelier.


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What The Heck Am I Even Watching On “TV?” Or, Saturday Morning at 10:37am

Broadcast Networks

Big Bang Theory – Thursdays
Blacklist – Hiatus
You Me And The Apocalypse – Thursdays
Mr. Robot – Hiatus
Scandal – Thursday
Modern Family – Wednesdays
American Crime – Hiatus
Better Call Saul – Mondays
Blind Spot – Mondays
Suits – Wednesdays
The Good Wife – Sundays
Fresh Off The Boat – Tuesdays
War and Peace – PBS – Miniseries completed
The Magicians – Monday (kind of love this one, I read the books)

Cable Networks

Girls – HBO – Sundays
Games of Thrones – HBO – Sundays
Silicon Valley – HBO – Sundays
Homeland – Showtime – Hiatus
Billions – Showtime -Sundays
Outlander – Starz – Hiatus

Digital Video Services

Jane the Virgin – Netflix (I know it’s on a network but if I watch I watch on Netflix;))
Narcos – Netflix – Hiatus
Orange is the New Black – Netflix – Hiatus
Bloodline – Netflix – Hiatus
Catastrophe – – Amazon Hiatus
The Code (Australian) – Netflix – Hiatus
Happy Valley – Netflix (just finished Season 2. So good!)
Mozart in the Jungle – Amazon – Hiatus
Transparent – Amazon – Hiatus
Master of None – Netflix – Hiatus

“What’s all this,” you might be saying to yourselves? This, my friends, is how I track what the heck I am watching on TV these days.

The “television” industry has shattered. I watch on my laptop more often than not. And I forget which shows I like, which are running, which get new episodes when.

So I made myself a stupid little text file to keep track. A text file! That’s the digital equivalent of a Post-It™ note. And, as we in the software biz know, a Post-It is to digital systems as a red rash is to human health.  A. Sign. Of. Trouble. A sign that something is off, something needs fixing.

You know that if the cable and network companies (and the barriers to entry they forged by linking hardware, content, and transmission) weren’t in place, the necessary change might happen much sooner. The nexus of control would live on our devices, in software that was infinitely better than my text file, enabled by access to reviewers, and communities of like-minded viewers, and searchable/browseable content. We’d still have ads, and mediocre artistry, I’m not positing Nirvana. But the user experience would support our true user desire, i.e. entertain me when, how and where I want.

Keep track of what I’ve liked, show me avenues to discover something I might love.

Whatever. Me watching digital narrative with difficulty doesn’t warrant even an iota of distress. I am curious though, how do you guys approach “television” – in this era of industry transition? And speaking of like-minded viewers, any “shows” you want to suggest?  I suppose the word “show” does still work. Thank heavens for small cranky favors.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Small Interior Tweaks For Fun (Prettiness, Interest) Without A Lot Of Fuss

As I sort out larger furnishing choices, i.e. fabrics for my guest room and master bedroom, I’m amusing myself with small tweaks.

Anyone remember these doves? They’re now living a well-lit life on our Pottery Barn Extra-Wide Valencia dresser. And yeah, it’s dusty. I’m way better at beauty than I am at daily cleaning. Those of you who will tell me cleaning is beauty, I hear you, I understand conceptually, and I cannot feel that way to save my life.

The doves tolerate disorder.


In any case, having read Emily Henderson’s book Styled, I now realize that I want just a little more framing, a little more intention, in my house decor. And I’ve been possessed with the idea of a tray for those birds. Something to mark their place, something to add a layer between pink gold Murano glass and a 10-year old espresso veneer.

In situ.


I’ve got an old, worn silverplate tray. It belonged to my mother. But look, it’s too hard, too shiny, and brings too much metal to a bedroom already graced with two gilt wrought iron benches. Not to mention the gilt wrought iron tassels on said benches.


So I keep looking. I thought about color, but I’d prefer that the doves, and, oh yes, the magenta sari silk I’m planning to use for pillows on the benches, corner armchair, and bed be the only vivid accents. So if metal’s out, and bright color banned, I think we’re left with something pale. Wood maybe, or, even better, decoupage.

What I’ve Considered And Mostly Ruled Out

(By the way, DENY is an interesting company, based on artist designs, sold at Target.)

But I’m Still Thinking About

And I’m Coveting

There are, of course, premium art trays in this world. Consider Fornasetti. Whilst I like their tamer stuff,

others might prefer the more Dali-esque.

Fornasetti IIExcept they are really expensive.

And our American correlate, John Derian? Also expensive, although perhaps a little less so for us than Fornasetti? An essay on Central Park?


Or a tempest! Good colors, not perhaps the right feng shui imagery for one’s bedroom.

17T-Tempete_49fcd1ff-1590-4ece-a7e6-5fd301748db5_largeMaybe six pelargorium (sic) to keep the doves company in their pinkness. All, decoupage of art reproductions under glass.


And I covet their color palette trays maybe most of all. All, reproductions of antique and vintage art in decoupage under glass.

Derian’s products are sold at Neiman Marcus in limited numbers, also in bits and pieces at J. Crew, and therefore may be available to see at those local stores. For those of us who don’t live in Manhattan.

Feel free, as always to chime in. If you’ve explored the idea of objects on dressers, or layers of light and texture as part of your interiors, I would particularly love to hear.



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A Personal History Of Fashion In Zagreb: Guest Post From Dottoressa

A guest post by the commenter known as Dottoressa. She is a citizen of Zagreb, with a love of fashion, and this is her personal fashion history in context. In light of the bombings in Brussels, we discussed delaying this post, but in the spirit of carrying on, of being undaunted, decided to publish. She sends her thoughts and condolences to the citizens of that beautiful city.

Thank you Lisa for your invitation to be a guest once again at Amid Privilege. This time it will be a journey through the history of fashion in Zagreb.

Before WWI, Zagreb was part of the K and K Habsburg monarchy. It was full of shops, warehouses with almost everything you could think about and a lot of excellent artisans. It was like the little copy of Vienna.

Every lady had her seamstress (and the perfect seamstresses still are most precious persons to find-see Nina Gracia’s book!), her milliner, furrier, shoe and glove makers. Materials for dresses and coats were ordered from Vienna (or sometimes Paris), all kind of silk, velvet, lace…..The quality was superb – my grandmother has saved, luckily, some of her silk materials.


Women in Zagreb were known for their elegance.

From WWI to WWII

We were part of old Yougoslavia, fashion changed, changes were followed, but the elegance and flair were here to stay. After WWII there was a great change.  Communists took over the government. All the factories, warehouses, shops, land and a lot of flats and houses were confiscated, nationalized, their owners were mostly prosecuted. Their crime was to have too much wealth (although there were always  invented some other reasons). Everything was owned by the State or “People,“ one had only “the right to use it.”

Money lost its value overnight and new banknotes and coins came.

After The War

from 1945, there were shortage problems with almost everything. Food and clothes were restricted and you got a monthly ration card.  In 1948, Yougoslav leader Tito broke all connections with Stalin , USSR and Eastern block. He formed later, together with India and Egypt, so called Non-Aligned Movement (Tito-Naser-Nehru initiative). Things slowly, very slowly, got better.

Women were equal (more or less) in Work and Public Affairs (home situation was pretty the same as before) but fashion, beauty, visible symbols of luxury – they were almost illegal and redundant. Comrades had to be clean and work for “higher goals“ of all (or maybe just few), not waste time  thinking about make up and hair do.

People somehow managed (women particularly) the best they could. Some things were smuggled, some sent from relatives who lived abroad, some bought from tourists who visited Yougoslavia…..Scarlet was not the only one who used old curtains for a dress (cheers for my granny with her silks!). Coats could be transformed to children’s coats, grandpa’s suit could become granddaughter’s dress.

I Was Born In 1958

As I grew up, stores were, step by step, slowly, again full of beautiful materials, first class cotton from India, silk from China, wool, even camelhair. Foreign magazines, like German Burda, were sent (or brought by economical emigrants who were gradually permitted to go to work in Germany), outfits were copied and our seamstresses (my mother and me inherited ours from my grandmother and when she grew old, we found another, equally good)– who worked at home – applied their magic.

It was “grey  economy,’ doing something that the law (in simple terms) “disapproved,” if not strictly forbade. A lot of things here were like in some kind of twilight zone, between legality and illegality,

At the same time, a lot of people with some spare money (could you imagine the situation where you have some money and nothing interesting  to buy?) started to buy German currency (DM!) , from tourists or smugglers. We were allowed to travel abroad  (even the people like my family who had never joined The Communist Party) and needed foreign money. Shopping one-day trips to Trieste, little Italian town near the border began. Precious marks were very rarely enough for spending a night in a hotel when you could buy another pair of shoes for it.

And shoes always won.


The author, now (2005) and then. Her first pair of Raybans (1982) on the right.

We woke up around 4 AM and drove – my poor father who never bought  a thing!- to the border. If customs officers were graceful and the long bee line didn’t have to wait too much, we were in Trieste around 9 AM-time for first cappuccino, bathroom, and making “battle’ plans. After a couple of trips, my mother and me were more familiar with stores in Trieste than in Zagreb, best shoes, bags, jeans…And the plan was: First go around 2-3 best shopping streets, quick decisions, second round and shopping, happiness or bad luck, (if there were not our sizes available at the moment), there was no place for mistakes (you couldn’t come and return next day). During the lunch break we would go for a pizza, second coffee and a little evaluation. If the money was spent or the goals reached, we would go home (and through customs where you might or might not have to pay taxes.)

We usually went twice a year (and a couple years later maybe to Graz, Austria, too), mostly for shoes, bags and jeans. At first it was important to choose quality and the beauty of the items, the softness of the leather, beautiful colours and natural fibres. Later we learned about brand. It was interesting that there was a lot of perfect clothes from small factories who didn’t survived till today. Shoes were Rossi, Rossini, Madras, Frattelli Rossetti…some of the brands were unknown and became popular later, like Furla bags or Fendi.


I still remember my first boots, glove-soft tan leather, mid block heel, back zip-beautiful and very expensive, it was only item I have bought this time. I had to sacrifice anything else. I used to just look at them for days before actually wearing them.

And then, there were so many things to catch attention: notebooks, little colourful things of all kind that made one’s heart sing, chocolates, coffee, you name it. Alice in the Wonderland……so many wishes!

I was among the lucky ones, I knew it all the time! A lots of people went to Trieste, but not  all of us have this opportunity, the money or willing parents who let you go. I was giving lessons in German and helped in a beauty salon to earn some pocket money too.

What valuable lessons  did I learn through this period of life:
-to plan carefully and think about few  key pieces in my wardrobe of best quality I could afford
-to know the value of money and to choose among quantity and quality
-to think in advance and make choices quickly
-to experience delayed gratification
-to understand money exchange rates very early in life
And a lot more…..

Years, decades later…..we have a lot of global brands here in Zagreb-let me list some of them: Max Mara (and all daughter brands like Marella and Marina Rinaldi).


Burberry, Marc Cain, Basler, Palmers, Tommy Hilfiger, Gary Weber, Mephisto, Furla, Lancel… flag stores, couple of good concept stores (“Maria” f.e., with stores in Zagreb and Dubrovnik),


and a lot of retailers like Zara, H&M etc. I am very sorry because we’ve lost Hugo Boss. The prices are higher than abroad.

We now tend to overdress a little, (and it comes with long time deprivation, new money, wives and girfriends of high-profile athletes as everywhere, realities……) or a lot.


Globalization and online shopping change, of course,the whole concept. There are still original things you can buy in Zagreb but this is the whole new story.

Did you ever had any impossibility (except money) to buy things you wanted?

Muscles And Poetry, Poetry And Muscles, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:42am

I had a great yoga class yesterday.

Which is by no means a veiled attempt to get you to start yogatating. I have learned over the years that while everyone ought to do some kind of physical activity, exactly what kind is right for whom one cannot know unless one is that whom.

I made the change to yoga and walking in place of a personal trainer, because I felt that the gym was done. More sessions would only grow more musculature and life is not all about muscles. I also hypothesized that weight-lifting was increasing my testosterone at a time when I really needed estrogen. That’s what we call “Carnochan Science” ’round here,  i.e. you can say it pretty but you cain’t make it true.

Anyway. This yoga class was good not because of bodies and poses, or because the instructor gave us essential oils in our hands at the end, although I like that bit, but because she said something that resonated. “Breathe through your nose,” she said. “If you have to open your mouth you are probably doing too much.”


Wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar simple marker in life? Because I for one used to crave the high of trying really hard, metaphoric muscles shaking, symbolic tendons straining. It’s very easy to keep pushing along using what we’re good at, forgetting about and even damaging the parts of us that can’t keep up. Question being, if we save that mode for real emergencies, do we accomplish less?

Nose-breathing. Not terribly poetic, but then, life requires about as much poetry as it does muscles.

Have a wonderful weekend, in which you try no harder than the least of your abilities allows. Which sounds like giving up but doesn’t have to be, or coasting. Which perhaps it is.

Fashion Logos, The Good, The Bad, And The Downright Ugly

I apologize to any upon the toes of whom I am about to step. Were I still writing as a High WASP I’d assume tones of disapproving authority. But let’s talk like regular people.

OK. I just hate Michael Kors’s logos.

And yet I’ve come to appreciate the shenanigans of Louis Vuitton, and occasionally Chanel. Why? Because these are luxury goods? Is it all about the brand? Or is it something else?

A little deconstruction. I think logos need a broad conceptual category to clear up why one might like some and hate others. How about “Brand Recognition Devices and Details?” So catchy. But in that framework we realize we need to consider subtle design elements that come to identify or augment a brand over time, logos which have their own design life, and straightforward logos, which can be beautiful – or not.

Perennial Signature Design Elements

Think Bottega Veneta’s intrecciato, Chanel’s quilting, Gucci’s red and green stripe. All are instantly recognizable to anyone who knows fashion, none are logos, all have survived for decades. By the way, whoever is doing Gucci’s accessories right now is to be commended.

I’m a fan of long-lived signature elements, in talented hands they work like structural constraints on a sonnet. Aesthetics do well under tough love.

Trendy Signature Design Elements

We also see trendy signature design elements that proliferate like Cokes, AKA Cherry, Diet, New. Think Alexander Wang’s cylindrical studs on a Rocco bag, Valentino Rockstuds on, well, just about everything. Those first Rockstuds were a brilliant shoe design. The umpteenth, well, let’s say say the company made a nice return on small metal pyramids.

Logos Which Have Become Signature Design Elements Over Time

Creative, Dynamic, Collaborative Even

Now consider actual logos. Logo, of course, comes indirectly from “logos,” meaning “word” in Greek. Some lead an artistic life, like Louis Vuitton’s infamous LVs, Chanel’s double Cs, and even, back in the day, the Coach C-fests. All used at one time or another, for better or worse, as part of the accessory design itself. Coach of course “C”onsumed itself on a pyre of consumer logo frenzy and although rumors of a rebirth circulate now and again I’m still waiting. But Louis Vuitton has created art with their logo-age, and Chanel gets close.

Recognizable but fluid, do these logos both achieve and transcend their original purpose?

On second thought, I’m guessing my appreciation for the white Cs here is as much the Chanel brand association as the design itself. Coco, Karl. Such a tricky balance, that, and one the luxury houses walk with care.

Artistic In Situ, But Fairly Static

Other companies have logos I find attractive on their own, and a recognizable signature besides  – the Prada triangle, Tory Burch’s medallion – but to date these brands haven’t begun experimenting with variations.

Those Logos Well-Designed In Their Use Of Nice Fonts

Some logos are nicely designed, in and of themselves. The designers chose fonts appropriate to their style. Think Armani, Cartier. But these can’t be considered a signature, and rarely add anything to the look of the goods. (I’m going to make an exception for this vivid bag by Mark Jacobs.)

All The Other Ugly Stuff, Which Is, Of Course, Somewhat A Matter Of Personal Taste

And then we’ve got the legion of ugly, or at least unimaginative marks. No grace of font. Often visibly displayed, often gold-stamped.

Many of these are what the fashion press calls, “aspirational brands.” Kate Spade, for example.

But the worst offender remains Mr. Kors. Why him? First of all, I find that dangling MK lacks all elegance, charm, or humor. It looks like a tag stamped out on some machine that also makes parking meters. Actually detracts from the look of his bags, becoming a signature in the worst possible way.

Second, the man used to make such beautiful clothes, back in the day. Minimal, classic, refined. Then he appeared on Project Runway, and, shrewdly but sadly, decided to cash in on fame. And, of course it’s the cashing in part of logos that make them so tricky. The pay-for-status aspect. When the signature doesn’t signify an aesthetic, whether trendy or classic, but only says, “I paid for this.”

Mr. Kors, you have let me down.

Finally, for fun, the inspirations behind 20 well-known luxury brand logos. and the meaning of 16 beauty brand names. And a former post of mine on bags without logos, and kudos to La Garçonne for their offerings. Because we can’t end on a disappointing note.

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It’s Just Water, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:57am

We finally got a few days of old-school rain. Large drops, audible splashing.

Made me think about water all over everywhere. I am not sure why suddenly a thing of nature, inextricable from our living, part of everything, separated itself and said “Think.” But there you have it.

Think of puddles.

Raindrops. Lakes.

I have lived on a coast most of my life, I couldn’t imagine moving inland. Even when I can’t see the ocean, or the San Francisco Bay, I know they are there. I smell marine on the breeze, seagulls get lost and fly overhead.

Or streams. Think of streams.

When I was young, we lived above a meadow, at the bottom a stream we called The Creek. I would explore, amid poison oak and banana slugs. Everything was wet, the narrow tree trunks, the ferns, the thistles, the rocks. As the oldest, I often explored alone. As I have said, my mother had a cowbell she’d ring when we had to come back for dinner. It clattered more than rang, if I’m precise.

Maybe she called us home for other things, but dinner seems like the right over-arching term.

I am writing along, waiting to know why water, but in the end maybe it’s just to remember that each aspect of our experience can be seen as part of a fabric, or, if we pay attention, a single splashing event.

Have a wonderful weekend. If you feel so inclined, tell me about your streams, your rivers, your lakes, your seas. Ah. Here’s a thought. It’s possible I’m seeking comfort, as we continue to do what’s needed for my mother, in that which always moves and never changes.