| Columns |
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
I’ve recently discovered a new fashion experience that is totally dahlin’, honey. It’s the shrug! It’s that short, cropped sweater, either short-sleeved or three-quarter-length, knitted or cotton, which flatters just about any body shape, even mine: round ball with four toothpicks. I am so excited. Not since culottes (now I’m showing my age) came along in every color and shade of madras have I been this excited. And for the Generation Y’s out there, culottes is defined by ChaCha, Powered by the People, as “shorts that go down to your knees and are really wide and look like a skirt.” Now, don’t confuse that with a skort: skirt + shorts. This makes me wonder if shrug stands for sweater + rug.
I was in a well-known boutique recently when I found a gorgeous dress for an upcoming event. But the problem was it was backless and I was afraid I’d get cool in a motel conference room. Jeanne, salesgirl extraordinnaire, said, “Well, I’m sure you have a shrug at home that would match it.” And shrug is actually what I did, y’all, because I had no idea what a shrug was. I was too embarrassed to ask her because she thinks I’m cool. I know this for a fact because she once told me so. Instead I said, dreamily, “A shrug? Oh, I dunno. Why don’t you show me what y’all have in stock?” Sadly, however, they were sold out. How did I miss this fashion explosion? I must’ve been busy doing something else non-important, like sewing fur onto a tank top — a real fashion nightmare.
A few days later I was in another shop and I remembered the conversation about the shrug. So I questioned the salesgirl, thinking she might be clueless like me. But not so much. She asked me what color I wanted and I said “black.” So she and her six-inch black stilettos clicked right on over that expensive tile floor, where she pointed with her two-inch-long red fingernails to a rack full of shrugs. A black one with ruched sleeves caught my eye. I believe if you’re gonna go out on a limb, why not climb to the top of the tree, right? Okay, maybe that doesn’t make a lot of sense to the average person, but to us dyed-in-the-wool blondes, it definitely does.
Funny thing was, I couldn’t stop with just one shrug. It was as if I’d been shrugnotized (shrugged + hypnotized.) I started going through the entire store and grabbed a handful of assorted colors — but I settled on a chocolate brown with small, covered buttons.
I reasoned out in my mind how practical shrugs can be: for instance, to simply dress up an outfit, after sunburn when vacationing or just to be comfortable in cool buildings, (especially in restaurants when the vent is blowing right on me.) Why is that every time we go out to dinner we get seated next to the ten-month old twins who have JUST learned to squeal, or the know-it-all, not-from-around-here loudmouth who is both boasting and boring, AND if we’re really lucky, the country-music speaker blaring away? Ack!
But back to my shrug shopping spree: That day in the store, I considered buying a half dozen shrugs, then came to my senses and remembered we are on a b-u-d-g-e-t. Oh, it hurts so bad to type that word. I’d rather type s-h-r-u-g! Using my intuition (hub-Russ is going to kill me), my sense of style mixed with frugality (three basic colors: black, brown and white), and my new store charge card (20% off, which I’ll pay in full in two weeks — promise!) — I put back the others and held on to my third and final choice, white.
By far, this was my favorite! It was sexy, flouncy, frilly and feminine. It was just to die for! And I was counting out loud all of the things it would match: my white jeans, my blue jeans, my white capris and my white battenburg skirt. I bought it and even decided to save it for a special occasion.
Well, tonight Russell asked me if I wanted to go out somewhere nice for dinner. Aha! This was my chance to surprise him. I put on my royal blue top, my marble-glass necklace, my white capris, my darling, white sandals—then, the grande finale: that white shrug. Perfection! Russell kept staring at me — and girlfriends, we’ve all seen THAT LOOK, haven’t we? Well, I knew he’d make a comment sooner or later. I also knew it was too much to hope for a possible compliment.
Saying he had to make a quick stop, he drove into the recycle center aka the dump, which happens to be right next door to the Moose Lodge. Not a fun start. I offered to help him, but I didn’t really mean it—what, with all that messy stuff: plastic, aluminum, paper and gardening pots. Okay, I helped SOME. I threw out three cardboard boxes, and I nearly broke a nail. Such sacrifices!
Leaving the parking lot, I kiddingly said, “Hey! There’s a sign that says they’re having karaoke tonight at the Moose Lodge. Wanna go?” He looked me square in the eye and said, “I don’t think so, Dolly Parton!” “Fine,” I said, as I shrugged in my shrug, “Suit yourself!”
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Once again, I was delighted to be back in the Lowcountry when I was asked to give a talk yesterday. And because our accommodations were included (oceanfront motel for two nights!), hub-Russ and I rediscovered and uncovered parts of Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island that were new to us. In four years, a lot has changed!
Among my favorites was a visit to P.F. Chang’s, where I thoroughly enjoyed the lettuce wraps. We walked around Market Commons and decided to take in a movie. I’m giving “Water for Elephants” glowing reviews and I’d highly recommend it. For one thing, it stayed very close to the book of the same name by Sara Gruen. For another, the acting was superb. (Who doesn’t love Reese Weatherspoon in ANY movie?) And now I’m a fan of Robert Pattinson, too. Those eyes! But many folks are saying Christoph Waltz stole the show. Though he was the villain and everyone hated him, he played the role perfectly —not overdone, but sneaky and sinister, just as his character was.
The sad part, of course, to me personally, was the poor animals — both their confinement and their poor medical care. But one could argue that Jacob Jankowski (veterinarian student, played by Pattinson; and in his older years, Hal Halbrook, another wonderful actor), made their lives better. He cared for them, talked to them, loved them and healed them, when possible. And I won’t give it away, but this is also a beautiful love story and romance plays a big part.
I’ve always loved circuses and have wanted to see Cirque du Soleil forever — TV doesn’t count. I am amazed by the talent: walking on tightropes, acrobats and contortionists, fire-eating men and women, all the pageantry and glory — yes, even the illusion. To be in the crowd, where the ringmaster struts and preens and the crowd is mesmerized. I can’t imagine swinging upside down in the air, doing flips, jumping from one “hand” to another. Shoot! My fear of heights would prevent that.
But all of this got me to thinking about what I can’t do! I’ve never told a crowd (speaking of crowds) as big as y’all (everyone who is ANYONE reads the Georgetown Times!), but here goes:
I can’t snap the fingers on my left hand. Argh! Everyone has tried to teach me but it just won’t work. I CAN snap the fingers on my right hand. But I do believe if I worked on this an entire day, I would go totally crazy — as opposed to partially crazy, which I am now.
I can’t whistle. Another frustration that has haunted me since my early school days. I remember in elementary school when everyone else learned how to whistle and I felt like a fool. Embarrassed. Frustrated. Ostracized. “Failure.” Okay, I’m stretching it a bit. I have been called a drama queen. But y’all know what I mean. Is there something in my genes that is missing to allow me to whistle?
I can’t skate. Again, I was in the minority when Jane and all of my friends whizzed on by my house on their roller skates. I wanted to cry. I thought it might be a balance issue, but heck, I can ride a bike. But I must confess: I can’t ride a bike hands-free. And my mother never learned how to ride a bike.
Sometimes it seems to be I’m in a competitive marriage, because Russell can do all of the above that I can’t do. Most times he is encouraging and often helpful. He’s tried a gazillion times, for instance, to help me snap the fingers on my left hand. But there are other times, when, say, I’m at a concert and snap the right fingers but “fake” the left fingers. I will say to him, “Argh! WHY CAN’T I SNAP THE FINGERS ON MY LEFT HAND?” And what he does right then is hard to interpret. He reaches out his hand and in an exaggerated way, snaps his fingers right in my ear! Doesn’t that beat all? Rude!
So I can’t do any of those things listed above, but I can write a column. And it’s due in five minutes, so here I go, sending it through the airwaves. And one other thing I CAN do is clap, which I’m doing right now. Yeah, I’m done!
Wednesday, 01 June 2011
Because I enjoy lots of variety in my life – be it clothes, home décor, hobbies or entertainment – I sometimes find myself truly perplexed as to what really pleases me and, maybe even, who I really am. Don’t worry; I’m not getting all new-agey or mystical at this time in my life. In fact, I’ve always had trouble making decisions. Even with simple tasks like deciding on what to cook for dinner, I stand in the grocery store, mentally rattling off the choices, “Chicken, pork, beef or seafood” (over and over)! At other times, I freeze at the nail shop and absolutely cannot decide on a French manicure, OPI “red” or OPI “pink before you leap.” Some days at the gym, I’m in anguish over the choices: should I join my aerobics class or hop on the treadmill? After a recent automobile wreck which totaled my car, I sat at the sales desk in the Toyota dealership saying, “Avalon, Camry or Prius?” (If you must know, I settled on the Avalon – ultra-classy, and I’m now over the moon happy.) But years ago, I chose sporty and zippy, and loved my little SUV, the little red Kia Sportage.
Decisions! I once heard a minister say we’re all having trouble making decisions because our brains are stuffed with too much information. Our “to do” lists rival a Fortune 500 CEO and even simple tasks can get put off to eternity from sheer confusion. He went on to say, “Why do you think so many people eat fast-food burgers? Because they are delicious? No! Because they are fast and cheap.”
Like many women, I stand in my closet, looking at my clothes, jam-packed, wall-to-wall and find I have “nothing to wear.” And yet, sales fliers promising me savings of 20-30-40% and higher lure me in to buy even more.
This same indecision spills over at home. Like many women, I stand in my closet, looking at my clothes, jam-packed, wall-to-wall and find I have “nothing to wear.” And yet, sales fliers promising me savings of 20-30-40% and higher lure me in to buy even more. When I recently read an online Stein Mart ad, “9 makes 29,” I became almost short of breath, ecstatic with the possibilities. But I doubt I could get nine new pieces in my aforementioned closet. Plus, I’d have to coordinate them all in 29 different ways – decisions! So this week, I’m making not a New Year’s resolution, but a mid-April’s resolution – Out with the old to make more room for the new. But what should I pack up for Goodwill? And what should I buy for replacements? Do I want to be trendy and cool? Sophisticated and tailored? Island and tropical? Sleek and glamorous? Preppy and sporty? Honestly, I DON’T KNOW!
Remember the Sonny and Cher era when we all wore bell-bottoms? A few years later, it was jumpsuits in light denim. How about the humongous shoulder pads and dare I say – even, bows in my hair? Then there were hand-painted sweat shirts and leggings to match. What was I thinking? Whether it’s my age, my size, my vocation (book signings and public speaking) or all of these, I suddenly don’t know how to dress anymore. Understated black and white? Or island people, “stick figures” stamped black onto white linen? Painter pants with lots of snaps and grommets? Dressy dresses with chintz bows? Long flowing Bohemian skirts? Ruffles and balloon hemlines? Ultra long, breezy vests to the knees? Structured short jackets?
Finally there is a book that solves the puzzle of your personal blueprint. It’s broken down into four parts that include quizzes and assessments, personal examples, interviews and definitions. Part 1 is Explore. Part 2 is Inquire. Part 3 is Define. Part 4 is Design. The book is titled Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design and is co-authored by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte. The authors say, “Your style statement is an affirmation, a declaration, a symbol of the real you – and all your facets.” Then, there’s “The Lifestyle Map,” which explains self-expression and relating. The authors claim that your foundation is 80% of your style statement and your creative edge is 20%. Therefore, there are combos like Refined Treasure, Sacred Dramatic, Cherished Playful, Organic Treasure, Timeless Constructive, Contemporary Flourish and Genuine Legacy. These combos are backed up by real people (and photos), plus their individual bios. Honestly, the quotes and the photographs are worth the price of the book – not to mention the motivation and inspiration from reading along. One quote I particularly love is by Carl Jung, “The self is our life’s goal, for it is the completest expression of that fateful combination we call individuality.” There’s a Q&A section at the end and an Ask-a-Friend survey. I feel this book can absolutely change one’s life, and I for one am anxious to find my true style. But first, I have to make the decision to read the entire book and then implement the results. Wish me luck!
The self is our life’s goal, for it is the completest expression of that fateful combination we call individuality.
Wednesday, 01 June 2011
Everybody needs a “go to” person. For me, that’s my BFF, Carolyn. Over the years, we have traded and lent many things: dishes, make-up, clothes, furniture, music and books. We’re like two peas in a pod: Lucy and Ethel, Thelma and Louise, Carolyn and Ann. On a recent trip to visit her in Pawleys Island, I found one thing, but lost another — all in the span of forty-eight hours. I found a turquoise wicker desk but lost a red leather wallet. I’m thinking this was sort of like ying and yang, a balance thing. You know: out with the old, in with the new, or, you win some, you lose some. But that’s silly. There’s no comparison. Though the desk was empty and the wallet was full (not with money, but with photos and gift cards,) I wanted both. And I’m happy to say I eventually ended up with both! Here’s what happened:
I arrived at Carolyn’s house, fairly late, after an event. Then, Carolyn, her hubby Chuck, her daughter Suzanne, and I stayed up really late, talking, laughing and reminiscing. We caught up on hobbies — cooking and gardening, as well as careers — she’s a jewelry designer and I’m an author, and news within our families and mutual friends. When I went upstairs to bed, tired, but good-tired, I lugged only my suitcase.
The next day was even more fun! It almost (notice I say ALMOST), cured my homesickness for my beloved Georgetown County! Carolyn, Chuck and I went to Andrews to visit Clemons Pond, Carolyn’s home place. On the way down, we stopped at Raymond’s, which is known all over S.C. for its traditional Friday afternoon barbecued chicken. Yum-yum! This is a place where Carolyn and her family go often, since Raymond’s wife, Robin, is Carolyn’s cousin. (Did I mention Carolyn has lots and lots of cousins? Her family tree must reach to the sky!) Oh, and Raymond’s sells everything from gum to gas, crackers to crickets.
It’s a country store where you see good-old, hardworking, everyday folks. There’s nothing pretentious or high-falluting about it and I LOVE IT! Like Carolyn said, it’s a slice of Americana. Surprisingly, we even ran into Carolyn’s brother, Cliff. Even when it comes to family, it’s a small world. Then we met her sister, Dee and hubby, Woody there, but that had been planned.
We went back to Pawleys Island and visited some more. We were talking about decorating when she asked me if I’d like to use a blue wicker desk and chair to match. Aha! Another loaner. Yay! She knew I was hoping to replace an old, large, dark-brown one, and even told me I could paint it pink, since my office is pink and green. So I eagerly accepted the offer and Chuck took it out to my car. I made a note to buy a whole, whole lot of Kilz, then went on my merry way.
An hour later, I stopped to get a cup of coffee. All of that late-night catching up had left me sleep-deprived and yawning. When I went to pay, I noticed my wallet was not there. I hated to charge a dollar on a debit card, so I added an order of French fries to make the total higher.
I assumed the wallet had fallen under my car seat or was in the middle of my trunk, which was full of books, luggage and the desk. But when I got home, a thorough search failed to turn up my red wallet. I called Carolyn the next morning, but I knew she was having a garage sale, so I resigned myself to the fact that it would be a while before I heard anything. I even called Raymond since I felt like I knew him — I actually DO know most of her family. He was friendly and kind, even apologizing with the bad news: no wallet.
My fears vanished when Carolyn called me and said she had found my wallet under some pillows on her couch. I was so relieved! I think maybe I had pulled out a business card to give Suzanne, when, instead of dropping the wallet in my purse, I dropped it on the sofa. At any rate, I was a happy girl!
And as I type this column, I’m ecstatic to report that my new pink desk and chair are working out beautifully in my office! It’s true I had to learn the hard way that spray Kilz works lots better than painting Kilz on with a brush. My carpal tunnel has flared up, my pointer finger is numb from spraying the nozzle and my back feels broken from squatting and bending over. But I’m happy! I’ve got my red wallet and my pink desk, plus great memories after a fabulous visit. Yep, life is good, even if it is short!