The Artsy Cousin Quilts, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:55am


We might say that this time of my particular life has been about befriending my inner Artsy Cousin. Born Sturdy, trained in Grande Dame where required, cozying up to Artsy takes time. Worth the wait, if it’s a dream of yours.

As you know, I didn’t make these High WASP archetypes up. The Grande Dame exists, the Sturdy Gal is real, and now I’d like to introduce one of my actual Artsy Cousins. This is Linda, my uncle Win’s oldest daughter. She made this quilt.

I think it’s startlingly beautiful. Look at the detail on one of the poppies.

And not to shock anyone’s system too badly, but Christmas does come for some of us every year. Look at this.

The Tree of Life. Those birdies.

Linda has, for the first time, put her work up on Etsy. She didn’t ask me to post about her shop, but she did say it was OK. I have more than one handmade quilt in my house, so does my father, I thought you guys might share our taste.

Now I must go and reply to your comments on last week’s post. Turns out when I gave up weekday posts my comment reply time disappeared. I will remedy that, I promise. Sturdy Gals persist, in courtesy and camaraderie as well as in Becoming Artsy.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

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Copying Texts Like Monks Illuminating, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:17am


Today is my birthday, as it happens, I am 61.

I thought of something yesterday or the day before. The world likes to characterize aging simplistically – we’re either slumped in despair at our upper arms, or dancing as gray hair streams down our oh-so-supple backs. Neither true. Many of us who are this age have seen as many good changes as bad, and as many bad as good.

Also known as you win some you lose some.

My college professors taught me that the Renaissance happened in part because the monks discovered Greek and Latin history. The theory is that transcribing the texts of a rich past civilization gave the monks perspective on their own times, once they realized their experiences had been lived before. I guess they learned knowledge is relative? That history will look back?

In any case, here’s what I like best about 60. You know you’ll see you were young now if you get to be 80 some day. Because you’ve looked back before. You’ve turned 50 and thought, “Wow I was young at 30.” You’ve turned 60 and realized that even 40 is a baby.

So you, or at least, me, forgive yourself your jowls. I mean, not every day. Sometimes I scold them in the mirror. You shake your head and shrug a bit at your difficult characteristics. Again, not every day. I still suffer some nights worrying I’ve talked too much or too fast.

But on the whole, there’s equanimity in the layering of life. Peace in palimpset. Which I wish was called chiaroscuro, because it would sound better, but you can’t have everything.

Maybe wisdom isn’t a better blue, per se, it’s layers. For example, cobalt, marine, turquoise, french.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Feeling like I just have to sign this, xoxoxox.

I Am Not Linda Rodin, But, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:44am


(J. Crew shirt worn at the end of this post on New York Fashion Week, Madewell jeans and Ecco sneakers worn here, gold hoop earrings shown here, Bare Minerals GenNude lipstick reviewed here)

I am not Linda Rodin.

Isn’t she cool?

And yet, when I read this interview with her on Cup of Jo, I felt a little spark of recognition. Linda says,

Q: Was there a time in your life when you felt really beautiful?
A: Right now. Truly, more than ever. Getting old gives you freedom. You can be cranky; people just say, oh, well, you’re a doddering old lady. You don’t have to make excuses.

And,

I love clumpy eyelashes; that’s how we wore it in the 60s. We even used to draw Twiggy-style eyelashes underneath our eyes — it looked absurd, but whatever beauty looks I’ve tried, I always thought they were right at the time.” (bold added)

Yes, in my 60s. I don’t feel radiant with youth and beauty, I am not impeccable, but I do get a kick out of being able to get dressed and feel good in my skin.

Many might deem the outfit atop this post “too young.” Ironically, when I was 50, or even 40. I might have felt sheepish or tentative. Now, ha.

I had always known how to dress “up,” thanks to my mother. I had figured out how to dress for different work environments, thanks to the High WASP obsession with “appropriate” and social contexts. But in casual clothing I never wanted to show I was trying. Too embarrassing, to care.

It wasn’t a conscious attitude, so little about how I dressed was conscious before I started writing this blog. But now I’m all, “Hey, this is comfortable, I feel jaunty, my feet don’t hurt, I’ll make a gesture towards style with some visible earrings, let’s go.” I might even add an exclamation point, something else I used to avoid.

So thank you all for biding with me as I sorted out family baggage. Beloved family, finely tooled, but a burden when carried without a break.

Which brings me to other news. Tracey Cleantis, she of the erstwhile blog, La Belette Rouge, she of the best-selling The Next Happy, is writing a new book about the psychology of our wardrobes. She and Sue of Une Femme talked a little about the upcoming book, Sue discusses here.

I suspect Linda will approve.

Have an absolutely excellent weekend everyone.

Fending Off Solutions, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:49am


I know I told you my tall old Chinese elm fell over this spring. Not that you needed to remember, of course. It kneeled down as I was looking out the window. No damage to our house, very little damage to anything, but we were suddenly treeless.

That tree had defined the yard, and to an extent, the house. I have so many windows that used to look out on leaves, through which the sun now streams and streams. My garden also depended on the shade. Hydrangeas, ferns, dogwood, phormium, dicentra, myosotis. Lots of plants have burned.

But I am not primarily sad.

At first, yes. The tree was alive, I felt I knew it, that it had a self. I mourned. But I’ve moved on to learning. I am not the Buddha, this is a cognitive practice of fallible humans. Learning what? How not to solve for beauty. How not to jump to conclusions. How to focus on the deepest problem.

By nature, I think visually and rapidly, inferring a whole from barely seen patterns. I let visual and barely processed cues guide me. No patience. I’ve had to sit with an unmet need, no blinking. It feels weird. I’ve made myself live through hot day after hot day. Not very happily. I water by hand so as to pay attention.

I hold up. I tell myself, “Wait. Do not assume you know how to screen the neighbor’s roof or where to move the purple iris. Focus on first understanding whether or not you will plant another tree.  Then save the plants you love. It’ll be beautiful again. Maybe next year.”

The elm fell about five months ago. Since then I’ve installed five olive trees in pots on the patio, to shade our windows. I’ve moved two hydrangeas and a fuchsia out of the direct sun. Fuchsia, meet daphne.

I’ve let another hydrangea die, I’ve weeded, I’ve planted succulents. And I’ve come to the conclusion that we have no choice but to plant another tree, exactly where the elm was. Well, we could put up a shade sail, strung from the house, but that’s not my style. I want to see green grow.

Meanwhile, butterflies, who don’t mind about the tree. A Gulf Fritillary in the side yard.

Where I also let thistles grow, then go to seed and down.

Turns out thistles are the larval food of Painted Lades. Yesterday I had four flapping around my big abelia hedge, at the same time. I suspect I also housed their caterpillars but too many prickers to be certain.

Here’s the new Cecile Brunner rose in my front yard. I put it in a year or so ago, when a large juniper died – the drought has been hard on us all around – it’s grown a lot in its first two years.

Even over the fence into the back. Above the thistle. The benefits of change don’t always announce themselves in advance.

 

Have a good weekend my friends. La vie est sometimes belle.

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Searching For The Rewards Of Patience, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:15am


I know that when reading a blog I generally don’t want to hear about its inner workings. How often people write, their thought process about topics, oof, some part of me needs to suspend disbelief and expect magic.  With that acknowledgement, I’m going to go right ahead and turn on the klieg lights. Imagine a clank and whirr as they illuminate. Greasepaint in evidence. Sorry in advance. Although you guys are probably nicer than I and will forgive.

OK. So. Going forward I’ll be blogging on Saturdays only. That doesn’t mean I will only write the kind of posts Saturdays have most often produced. I’ll keep up the full range of topics – but only once a week.

However, traditionally I do not monetize Saturdays. So, in addition to the calendar change, no more affiliate links in posts.  I’ve got one more shopping piece in the works, about dressing up over 60, but subsequent posts will be non-commercial. I might add the ads back to the sidebar, and keep updating shopping widgets on the About page, but no more “Links may generate commissions” at the bottom of the new posts.

If you are interested in next level of detail and motive, well, thank you. Maybe this degree of deconstruction is useful if you’re also retired, and also sorting out how to make the best of it.

  • I have come to realize that I am wired to need a big project.
  • The blog or a job or both have been my big projects for the past eight and a half years.
  • But I’ve never been willing to push the blog to become as successful, by general blog parameters, as I would have needed to get the full satisfaction of A BIG PROJECT.
    • This is wholly my doing. I have insisted on my slightly quirky perspective. I have insisted on writing about stuff that thrilled me – style was a convenient hook. However, I’m retired now; I’m not the sort to dress dramatically absent drama; therefore I don’t often find clothes thrilling. Fun, just not thrilling.
  • I had thought I’d move to writing short posts about politics. Little did I know just how crazy things were going to get. Little did I know that the best minds and the best writers of our generation would respond. Makes sense, of course, but who am I to opine when Garrison Keillor is out there?
  • So I am going to attempt a piece of long-form writing. I am not at all sure I will finish. I doubt my own capabilities but I’m going to try anyway.
  • Therefore, I need to clear out some space and time.
  • Hence, one post a week.
  • Hence, giving up monetization, which takes a lot to implement and seduces me into checking on how it’s going. And, a detail but important, provides short term pleasure that can distract from long term goals.
  • I am framing the foregone rewards, of your frequent comments and small dollars, as rent I am paying to an internal landlord of imagination.

I hasten to add, I’m all for monetized writing. I love Sue and Grechen and others, as you know. I am so happy Janet has started linking, she’s a talent. And I’m sure other Sue and Leslie could monetize if they wanted to, and I’d applaud them if they did. Although of course I support them if they don’t.

Monetization is just a distraction. For me. And I’m going to need focus.  I always want to jump up, to check off, to cut to the proverbial chase. I’d like to learn patience.

I also hasten to add, I’m not going away and I don’t want to go away. Just trying something that I’d regret if I didn’t.

Have a good weekend. Best of wishes to all in Irma’s path, may she turn in the least damaging direction possible and may all of you stay safe.

 

Looking Heat Square In The Face, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:56am


As you may have heard San Francisco broke heat records yesterday, with temperatures of 106℉. Down here on the Peninsula we went even higher, to 108, but I was still happy to be in my suburban house. At least here we can open the front door (the back door the bedroom doors the windows) and hose down the patio to cool ourselves as black slate steams.

And no, we don’t have air conditioning. Until this year it has never felt necessary. I’ve lived in this house since 1986, in the Bay Area off and on since 1960. While we’d always have 3 days here and there over 90℉, of a summer, this kind of heat is new to us.

Today they’re predicting we’ll be down to 103. Whoa.

So I guess we’ll get up and get out and go places with A/C. I’ve already rewatered the hydrangea I transplanted closer to the lawn. I wanted to consolidate the sprinklered areas of my back yard, but didn’t plan for this heat. Transplants wilt so easily. I’ve doused our new potted olive trees, lined up in front of our back windows to replace an iota of the shade we lost when our big tree fell down. I’ll leave a plate of water out for the butterflies. And off we go to the world of humans in 2017.

I know I’m nostalgic, yearning for the landscape and climate of my childhood, for burnished California hills and summers. And let’s be serious, it’s supposed to return to 75 here at end of the week, while the survivors of Hurricane Harvey have months if not years of struggle ahead. No sympathy required for me.

Better to make a plan. I can at least vow to do nothing going forward that would increase my use of fuels and power. No air conditioning, for example, unless I trade my old Rav4 in for an electric car. Better yet, a bicycle. I read an article recently reporting on California’s progress with sustainable power – excellent – but lack of progress on transportation emissions – problematic.

So maybe no air conditioning even if I do get electric wheels. Nothing like discomfort to gee up our activism.

Have a wonderful weekend. I do think it’s possible to look all this square in the face and still enjoy time with family, the quiet of a Saturday morning, the smell of crushed lavender from the bunches you gathered last year and tied with a raffia ribbon. Looking the other way never disappears anything.

All the best to you and yours.

 

I Kinda Had To, Right?


Along with the new skirt, my birthday loot included a couple of pretty shirts that unfortunately didn’t fit. So I returned them to Nordstrom and came home with this in their stead.

I kind of had to, right? Butterflies, on a cotton/silk blend that is my favorite kind of fabric almost in the whole world. I didn’t think the colors would work, but the lepidoptera is more brown than orange and I squeaked in under my personal yellow-hues percentage. With brown Dickers and an Étoile Isabel Marant jacket? Oh yeah.

And I haven’t actually even had my birthday. Nice work family, thank you very much.

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What To Wear When You Are Over 60 And It’s Too Hot For Jeans


As must be evident, I mostly wear jeans. The thing is, it’s gotten too hot to wear them in summer, at least around here. Long dresses are great, but, what if you just want something to throw on with a t-shirt? And if you’re thinking, wait, it’s fall, not here. In California we often get some of our hottest days in September.

Enter a jersey tube skirt. This is what I asked my sister to give me as a birthday present, lo and behold her success. Some would wear this with a long shirt, on me I think it’s best with an adult crop top, AKA a short tee.

From Eileen Fisher, size S/PS, organic cotton jersey. Worn with my SEA tee, white Gizeh Birkenstocks, an Eric Javits hat from Nordstrom, simple Blue Nile gold ball posts, and Ray-Ban aviators. Matte liquid lipstick from Bare Minerals, color is Juju, a lighter, rosier tone than Boss, my other favorite.

La di da and out the late summer door, no sweat, literally or figuratively. (BTW, this mirror is quite slimming, so trust me when I tell you that I look a little broader than this in the flesh, and trust me when I tell you la di da to that too;)). Being over 60 has its perks.

 

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When Eyelids Behave Badly, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:38am


I had the weirdest illness this week. At least I think it was an illness but I’m not quite sure. One night I was lying on the sofa watching television on my laptop and something flew into my eye. Or so it felt. Not sure what it was, a bug, a feather, or whether indeed it was anything other than a body tantrum.

Next thing I knew my eyelid had swollen dramatically. Stayed that way for a few days. My throat got sore, I got tired. I went to the doctor, she gave me antibiotic eyedrops, they are helping. But I do feel a bit as though I was hit by an invisible man, and am standing on the sidewalk waiting for an transparent finger to poke me again.

Ah, far too dramatic. And by the way that’s just a story to give context to my silence this week.

Today, my son and my daughter and my daughter’s boyfriend are all visiting. So wonderful. Tomorrow we will go up to my father and stepmother’s place, to jointly celebrate August, September and October sibling birthdays. I look forward to a day with much, if not all, of my family.

I hope you all are in good health, and that your summer is winding down peacefully. Thanks as always for your presence.

Humanity, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:58am


This is one of those moments when I don’t think I have an apolitical Saturday post in me.

I could tell you that a Monarch finally visited my milkweed patch. I was thrilled, yes, but given the other events of this week in America I can’t do butterflies this morning.

Let me leave you with a thought. An American I know who is married to a Swede and lives in Sweden told me there Southern Europeans aren’t considered “white.”

What does that tell us? What then is “white?” What does this mean for the idea of “white” in America? Why is there “white?”

You guys are smart. I’m not going to belabor the obvious. Maybe this will surprise you, as it did me, maybe it will clear your eyes as it did mine. Or maybe you already understood.

There is so much difficult work to be done, but on Saturday morning let’s allow ourselves to believe it’ll be easy. Consider the idea of humanity, and what it means to be humane.

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