Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Missing My Mojo

Sometimes I just loose track of my mojo, my moxie, my swagger, my game. Not for long, usually, but recently it's gone walkabout.

Mojo: "Self-confidence, Self-assuredness.  As in basis for belief in ones self in a situation ... ability to bounce back from a debilitating trauma and negative attitude." 
          Urban Dictionary Online

"A quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy"
        Cambridge Dictionary Online

In situations like this, the only reasonable thing to do is to show you photos of cats.

This is Lucy, one of my herringbone tabby sisters that let us live with them. It was taken in twilight, handheld, in very bad light with my shiny new camera that I'm trying to learn how to use. Pretty snazzy little zoom lens, not especially fast and therefore surprising in this low-light situation.

Our newest family member is Mi-ke ( close pronunciation Me-kay, Japanese for calico; "three fur"). She was born in our garage and is still so much a baby. Doesn't she have a great face?

This is not a cat, of course. It's me in an old London Fog trench-coat that I found while doing some closet diving. I paired it with black Pixie pants from Old Navy, a fairly recent Bisou-Bisou surplice blouse and some cute mules I finally found at good old Target.

I've not only mislaid my mojo, but I've lost my brick wall on my porch. The wall is still right where I left it, of course, but this new lens that I'm so fond of requires more distance than I have between me and a three foot drop off the porch. So I have to find a new place to make my shoot-and-run photos. I'm trying the north-lit garage front. Not ideal, but I persevere. I do like it that, along with the lovely sharp lens, this camera has a very nifty "soft focus" tool right in-camera ... and I don't feel even a little bit guilty about using it.

By the way, if you see my mojo wandering around, would you please tell it to come home? 


Even mojo-less, I can still find my way to the Always Sleek and Chic Patti's Visible Monday . Hope to see you over there!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Attitudinous Me

Attitudinous : "(informal) Having a bold and possibly unfriendly attitude; sassy."

Yes. That would be me on Sunday, still tired after a satisfyingly busy but unusually physically taxing Saturday night. I was not so much feeling unfriendly as fiesty-ish with a "mess with me today at your peril" approach to life and a warning to those who might cross my path while brandishing their own problematic attitude.  We woke up to a very cold and rainy-icy morning, and neither of us was roaring to hit the long road to the Big City, but hit the road we did.

My soggy little soul wanted my warmest and coziest coat; faux fur, not quite vintage, and one I pull out on days when I need to wrap myself in a little spirit-uplifting glamor as well as some substantial warmth. It has that 50's dress-up-fur-coat styling, and really needed a bit of toughening up with my highly attitudinous, lug-soled Ralph Lauren lace-up boots, and my big, old studded shopper. The sleeves need my ancient, long leather gloves for complete comfort in this weather, and my big, red and black plaid scarf just begged to complete the outfit, so I obliged. All old friends, all well used and all completely and reliably cozy on these coldest, dampest days.

It's nice to have some attitudinous pieces in the closet, just for days like this, 'cause if you are not completely up to showing the world a bold face, you can, at least, let your outfit hint at one.

(No, the hem isn't wonky. The coat is lined with soft, heavy satin and the big, wide sleeves allow it to slide around a bit ... I sort of like the louche, 70's-style attitudinous feel it gives to the whole get-up.)


WooHoo! Instant attitude improvement: It's Visible Monday  at the Voluntarily and Happily Unemployed Patti's link up!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More Guidelines Than Resolutions, Really ...

So many of my style-bloggy buddies don't make a pile of resolutions for the New Year. Imagine that! Old cultural customs die hard, but it might be time to rethink this traditional process that causes us to make long lists of lofty self-improvement goals that we may or may not even remember past the first week of January. It is telling that we usually embark enthusiastically on this hopeful project just after coming through a joyful-stressful Very Important Big Holiday season. We've just concluded an intense and often expensive family celebration, after which we ritually finalize the year with an often calorically rich, frequently boozy, and occasionally embarrassing New Year's Eve ritual. That's followed by a sometimes regret-filled New Year's day spent on the couch, recuperating from the always unintended excesses of the night before. It's then that we decide to re-assess everything.

Of course I'm not talking about YOU, dear reader. Perish the thought. I'm talking about almost everyone else.

I'm always drawn to the idea of "doing better this year," but I just can't take it too seriously. As you may know from last week's post, I dance around the commitment that it takes to grimly impose FIRM RESOLVE on a goal (hello, instant failure) by softening the commitment level to a more gentle and foible-forgiving aspiration.

So far, here is my list of wardrobe and style improvements that I may or may not accomplish in 2015, and for which I certainly will not feel even a moment's self-loathing if I forget it all by spring.

1. Keep my end of the closet tidier.
Hahahahahahahahahahaha. I always imagine how that might be done, but rarely get past a half-hearted seasonal weeding. Frankly, the most effective way of gaining more usable space for myself is to pester convince Dan to clean out his end. Poor baby. He is saintly in his tolerance.

2. This is the year that I transform our extra room into my dressing room.
Speaking of Dan, I need to pester urge him, somehow, into lots of help in making this aspiration a reality, and sooner than later. We talk about it a lot, but it's always in the planning stages. I need to remind him that he could have our whole bedroom closet all to himself if I had a whole room for my wardrobe, including shoes and accessories. Would I resort to bribery? Oh, yes. Of course.

3. Keep adhering to the "Love It or Leave It "rule that worked so well last year.
It's always good to put at least one fail-proof aspiration in your list. It's especially effective to aspire to something you've already largely accomplished or perfected. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and be proud to claim it again.

4. Seriously, renew your commitment to closet diving and constant remixes.
Some of my best outfits lately have been new/old match-ups. It's masses of fun, and very satisfying. Remember that all my pre-pixie cut items look very different on me now, so let them see some sunshine.

5. This year, remember to be my own best style adviser.
Old age is a wonderful time to rely on the personal taste you've been constructing for a bunch of decades. Taste, at it's best, can evolve and change but still define your best core aesthetics.

6. Take the time to write scorching letters to style and fashion institutions, blogs, magazines and individuals that are dismissive/insulting/condescending or just ignorant about how older women actually still have and maintain style lives.
Not much feels as good as punching that "send" button. Join me in this one, if you like. We should start a movement.


On another subject entirely ...
I have a lot of coats. You will see more of them in the coming weeks. Winter always seems short when it comes to getting all the chances that I'd like to wear some of my favorite wardrobe staples. The outfit underneath always seems more important, somehow. But for two nights in a row last week, I had anxious dreams ... not quite nightmares, but more like quandary-solving dreams ... about styling a particular coat I haven't worn in a couple of years.
I have no idea why I dreamed of this coat. To dream of a particular article of clothing one night seems like mere stage-setting for my usual subconscious issue-processing during sleep. But two nights? In a row? That's a clear sign to make a blog photo of it.

The plaid is a dark purple, black and cream.  The cut is sort of retro-swing, and it does move beautifully when I walk. It's Nine West, and a couple of years old.  Aren't these the prettiest shaped shoes?  And such a great color ... from Gianni Bini, like my boots from last week.


I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful beginning to 2015.
Late Breaking: Joining up at Patti's Visible Monday ... I also hope you come with me to see what we're all up to!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End News from Nowhere

News Flash!!!!!
Yesterday. Big City in West Nowhere. Regular Unleaded Gasoline: $1.74 a gallon!!!!!
I never thought I'd live long enough to see it drop below $2.00 a gallon. That is all.

Good things can happen even if they are just little. Even small victories can taste sweet. But this is a Very Big Deal for us as we have to drive so much, so often. And as much as I am not in love with my crappy old car, I am pleased to be reminded just now that it gets over 30 mpg. ( I'm not so pleased to report that after all last week's repairs, a headlight has gone kaputt. The good news is that if this keeps up, I will have replaced so many parts that it will no longer be an old car. The fun just never stops. But we are still moving down the road with a few dollars more in our pockets after a fill up ... and that feels pretty good this time of year!)

... And in Other News from Nowhere ....
One Major Holiday down, one Major Holiday to go. I wish you all a Very Happy New Year with lots of love and thanks to you all for reading my silliness and writing to me about it. Please go safely and stay out of trouble on this always boozy holiday. Nothing bums me out more than to see mug shots of my friends (or worse) on the news.

Reviewing my last year's *New Year's Aspirations for 2014 ... How'd I do?
I'm no fool. My character is not upright enough for the staunchness of resolutions. I love a good challenge as much as the next woman, but I refuse to set myself up for failure. I can set some priorities, identify improvements that need to happen, and fantasize how life would be if I actually had my act together, but if I don't have a lot of stern resolutions to live up to I do a lot better. Let's take a very quick look at last year's list, and see how I did.

My Facebook Blog Page:
Well, it's there. I forget most weeks to even post my own blogs. I'm not much of a FB kind of person.

Redesign website:
Did that! Done.

Find a better way to keep in touch with bloggy friends.
The idea was to read more and write less. Stay current. I often don't get around to read everyone's blogs before I bend to the self-imposed pressure get out my own weekly post, or even get to respond to all the kind comments from the previous week. Much of it has to do with my very busy Wednesday-Sunday schedule. I know we all have limited available blog-cruising time, and mine is pretty much limited to Mondays and Tuesdays. I have to really hustle to get a post up so I can join Visible Monday, and that's when I can do most of my catchup. I did, however, make my sidebar blogs-I-read list more usable, so I give myself a very few tiny points for that. Much improvement is still needed, though, so I persevere.

Try to find some different backgrounds for photos.
Major Fail. Still working on that.

Get a current avatar that reflects the changes.
Good news: I'm finally happy with my haircut. I love my long pixie, and while I don't think it is wildly flattering or makes me look any younger or slimmer it is, I think, a more proportional look for me, and it just feels like the most authentic version of me thus far.
So, I finally made a new Gravatar. About time, wasn't it?

(These are more about my wardrobe than the blog...)
Spend more time recombining (wardrobe) items.
One of the best things all of my bloggy friends do for me is to inspire me to do this. Like everyone else, I wear my favorite things a lot, but I've found that I get stuck putting the same pieces together. All my bloggy buds have taught me to mix it up, and provide the inspiration for specific new combinations ... so thank you all for helping me increase my sartorial mileage!

Renew, recycle, and reuse!
Props to so many of you who have encouraged me to get off my butt and actually use the few sewing skills I actually own. I've always had to do the basics, but I was more creative and bold this year because of your example, bloggy sewing-divas and artists. You know who you are.

Continue to try to find a decent resale/consignment shop and actually use it.
I'm crap at this. There just are none here that work for me. I'll continue to keep scanning my radar for them, though.

Try it on before you buy it. Really.
This was the year when I made this rule one of my shopping modus operandi. I've left so many items behind in the fitting room ... and saved myself a chunk of change, and more than a little heartbreak and self-loathing, I know. It's also taught me how favorite brands usually fit me, and that's a time saver as well.

Love it or leave it.
Putting this into practice has been one of the best habits I've cultivated this year. It is a huge money saver, of course, but this year I've really enjoyed combining items that I already love. I'm embarrassed how long it's taken me to understand that it's a lot easier and more fun to combine pieces that I really love wearing than trying to shoehorn in items that are just meh just to get the good out of them. Duh.

* I haven't compiled Aspirations for 2015, yet. Stay tuned.

Yes, you just saw this jacket last week.  But in the spirit of
closet shopping, wearing the pieces I love the most, and trying new combinations, here it is AGAIN. But with a Missoni for Target dress I haven't worn in some time but love a lot, a Call it Spring messenger that suddenly feels fresh with these Gianni Bini equestrian-esque dress boots.

A better look at the boots ... this is True Boot Love.
They are in my possession because of a non-traditional 
collaboration with Santa. But I'm happy.


Before I conclude this last blog post of 2014, I'll leave you with a final news item. I've been a bit of a Doris Downer lately, I know, and this December has not been an easy month to enjoy. In keeping with that theme, on Saturday night, the son of a dear woman-friend that we hadn't seen in a while stopped by the restaurant to let us know his mother was in the hospital, fighting off a desperate and very frightening illness.

We stopped by the hospital on Sunday afternoon to see her, and you all know that terrible feeling of worry and anxiety that marks this kind of hospital visit if you've lived very long. We finally found her room, but I'm pretty sure you can also identify with the sickening little clutch you feel around your heart when you find the room empty of the patient you're looking for. We found a nurse, and she solemnly informed us that my friend had gone downstairs to the chapel. After a mutual sigh of relief, we then had to decide whether or not to bother her and invade her privacy there, but we really wanted to see her, so we headed to the chapel to wait for her to come out.

We found the chapel, and just outside of it we also found a small crowd of very happy people, laughing and talking and taking photographs. And there, in the center of the crowd, we found our friend sitting in a wheel-chair ... in a lovely dress, in full makeup, clutching a bouquet of flowers, wearing a white veil and a big smile.

My friend had just married her Significant Other of many years, surrounded by their families with music and flowers and cake and lots of joy.

Isn't that just the best, most amazing thing? I'll chalk that up as one of those rare, sweet, year-end mega-victories I've been looking for.


I'm joining the Bubbly and Intoxicating Patti at her year-end edition of  Visible Monday  ... where we all go to be much more than just visible!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bah, Humblog! And the Seasonal Wisdom of Doctor Who

Let's not kid ourselves. This time of year can be our most joyous, but for most of us, the lead-up to a splashy Christmas and party-hearty New Year can be the most stress ridden and difficult part of the season. A lot of you are nodding in sisterly and justifiably cynical agreement, but there's always some Perfectly and Perpetually Poised Pollyanna who (with humiliating accuracy) reminds me that stress is a construct of my own response to internal or external forces that affect my life, self-imposed and over which I have complete control.

To her, I reply "Bah-Freakity-Humbug, and please go peddle your superhuman self-control and serenity somewhere else, girly! I'm doing the best I can with what I got."

I'm not good at managing my pre-Christmas angst. It's always our slowest time of year at our restaurant as we're so deep in the hinterlands and 40 miles away from any Christmas shopping areas. One eats where one shops, and we fall off everyone's radar. I get it, but knowledge aforehand doesn't make the annually inevitable financial pinch any easier to manage. And every year, there's some treat from the Universe that makes it all just a tiny bit more difficult. This December, Dan blew up his car ... I gave him mine to use and one of its fairly new tires promptly disintegrated on his way to work. That got fixed, but the process meant we had to be closed for half-day of much needed income. The good news was that the tire warranty netted a prorated refund of half the purchase price of the blown tire. The bad news was that three days later, the breaks on the car noisily and dangerously insisted on being replaced, at just over twice the cost of the tire refund.

But we and the car are safe and operational, so (knock on wood) it's probable the seasonal worst is over. I'm breathing again, keeping fingers and toes crossed that no more mini-disasters befall us and that just a little business will come our way. Both seem possible as the holiday proper nears, and we will be able to enjoy two rare, whole days off in a row together ... with food, drink, prezzies, movies, books and a family tradition, this year's Doctor Who Christmas episode!

In the midst of this week's automotive and business drama, I remembered my favorite modern holiday quote; it's from the 2010 "A Christmas Carol," a Whovian intragalactic re-imagining of Scrooge's transformation through the power of love and the Christmas spirit. The Scrooge-esqe, deeply cynical, old rich guy, Kazran Sardick, says:

"On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, "Well done. Well done, everyone! We're halfway out of the dark." Back on Earth we call this Christmas. Or the Winter Solstice. On this world, the first settlers called it The Crystal Feast. You know what I call it? I call it expecting something for nothing! "

I certainly don't agree with his assessment of charity, loving kindness and generosity of spirit, but I was struck by the idea of being "halfway out of the dark" because that's how it feels to me so often.  I love of a lot of things about winter, but there is an undeniably strong, genetically hard-wired urge within all of us to draw nearer to the bonfire or the hearth fire, not just for warmth, but for the protection the fire light brings from all the dangers that lurk beyond in the dark. Our ancient ancestors had different things to fear, but even today we are wary of what may be waiting for us in the dark.

We still have to travel the rest of the way through an often harsh and sometimes frightening and destructive season.
I've always loved the Solstice especially because at that balance point, we begin the second half of the journey back into the light. Also implicit in Sardick's statement is the reminder that although we may pause and celebrate our triumph over the dark and the revisit the hope of more gentle seasons to come, there is still a way to go. But so far, so good.

So, sometime during the Christmas Eve Mexican dinner Dan and I will have, or during the Chinese Take-Out Christmas Day-all-day-feast, we'll pause and raise our glasses and send our good wishes into the aethers with a delicate clink to sound their coming. Our toast will be the words of Doctor Who himself; "Yeah. Christmas. Halfway out of the dark," because we know that in the second half of winter, the light becomes just a little brighter every day.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Christmas and Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Pancha Ganapati, HumanLight, Newtonmas or Festivus, I send you all big, smothery cyber-hugs with my best wishes that you enjoy ...


Linking up with the wonderful Maricel at Tardis Tuesday! over at her always interesting site, My Closet Catalogue .  What a great Whovian Idea!