Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kids' Version of "Fashion"

For a few years now, there has been a tendency for the younger generation of men to wear loose-fitting pants, with the waistband slung far down on the hips with boxer shorts in full view at the top. This whole sloppy look is a turn-off to this Grandmother, and I can tell you that if I was a young woman, instead of an old fogey, the look would still turn me off. (Thankfully, my grandsons haven't chosen this silly trend in 'fashion')

The girls, too, cannot be left out. Some of them are wearing low waistbands, but at least the 'rise' is where it ought to be, rather than having the crotch of the pants hanging at the knees. What my complaint with these 'hip hugging' waists is, the tummy above it is not usually flat enough to carry the look attractively. There is often a roll of flab above it which shows beneath the too-snug t-shirts. Worse yet is the idea of exposing the skin of the belly between the naval and the low waistband. Don't these kids have mirrors in their homes?

What annoys me most is that the clothing designers seem to cater to the youth of the world. I have to wear clothing, too, and so does a whole realm of people who are not built to wear things designed for people of twenty years or less. My husband complains everytime he wants to buy a pair of jeans, because a regular rise with a regular cut, straight leg has to be searched for, and is not readily found among the piles and piles of 'relaxed-fit' baggy-butt items.

I know, I know, I sound like an old lady. Well, I'm working on that...not the sounding of it, but the being of one. I fear that I sound an awful lot like my grandfather did in the early seventies. That was the time when skirts were at an all-time high, not much more than a very wide belt.
If females weren't wearing those, they were wearing what was known as 'grannie dresses', long skirts to the ankle. There were also bell-bottoms and 'hippie' garments, many made in India. Hairdos were 'natural'....long, straight locks parted in the middle or a wild crop of curls known as an "Afro". Whatever you were born with ...'natural'. The young men would grown their hair long and their sideburns would grow to the jaw bone, sometimes trimmed into 'mutton chops'.
My grandfather normally didn't say much about things like this, but I remember one day when he really railed upon me about the look young people had adopted.

Well, the bottom line is that we all grow up and eventually we do find mirrors. We, as young people, experiment with our hair and clothing and attitudes, in order to find out what 'fits' us.
What usually fits best when you're young, is looking like everyone else does. Eventually, we figure out that we can think for ourselves, not be governed by fashion designers, choosing more flattering clothing, and find a hair do that works with our individual facial structure. The young people out there today will figure it all out, too, in time. They will, like we do now, look back someday upon the photographs taken in their youth, and be appalled by their appearance.

There IS justice, afterall.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

St Valentine's Day

It's February 14th, the accepted date of an annual celebration of love. I heard on our news this morning that the 'holiday' goes back to the third century. My own celebrations don't go back that far, obviously, but I've had a good many of them.

I have vague recollections of grade school parties, when we'd each decorate a shoe box with red crepe paper, hearts and ribbons. These would become our mailboxes where our friends would deposit their paper offerings to us. I remember some teachers would hand out a list with all the classmates names on it so that no one was left out. There would be refreshments, usually cupcakes or pretty homemade cookies, heart-shaped and decorated with red glittery sprinkles or pink icing. Sometimes there would be small paper cups with candy message hearts too.

As I grew into teen years, those parties at school had ceased. By then there was a 'boy friend' who was faithful to deliver a pretty card and some sort of gift. Sometimes it was a box of chocolates, sometimes a piece of jewelry. I still have a silver pin in the form of an open heart and a gold chain bracelet with a gold heart charm. I've removed the charm, however, because it was engraved with his name and mine, and those days are long gone! I do wear the bracelet now and again, with no thought of where it came from.

As far back as I can remember, at our family dinner table on Valentine's day, there was a small heart-shaped box of candy on our plates....a gift from Mom and Dad. I carried that tradition on with my own children when they were younger.

My husband is always good about cards, and he's quite a romantic man. He always recognizes Valentine's Day in some special way. Every year at this time, or at Christmas when the jewelry stores are incessantly hawking their wares on TV, I jokingly say..."oh yeah! There's my perfect gift" or "that diamond has my name written all over it." He knows I'm kidding. But, truthfully, I've come to realize that it's the little things he does throughout the year, not just on February 14th, that mean the most to me. It's not the things that can be wrapped in a pretty box, but rather the wrapping of his arms around me. It's not new little trinkets to be worn on my body, but the remembrance of what he said when we were shopping for our wedding rings. When I see my white gold wedding ring ... engraved with tiny stars, his words that day replay, 'you should have this one because Kathleen still puts stars in my eyes.'

Why is it that we have to designate a special day on which to celebrate love? Wouldn't it be nice if people would celebrate the 'little things' every day year-round? Wouldn't it be a warmer, sweeter world if each of extended a smile, a word of encouragement, a small act of kindness to each person we have contact with? I think so.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Because we women have, for decades, fallen prey to the advertised idea that we must have smooth and perfect legs, we don't feel fully-dressed when wearing dresses, without an undergarment called panty hose.

Yesterday I took a new pair of L'Eggs out of its little cardboard container, and began the arduous task of putting them on. First I pulled them...lengthwise. Then I tugged them along each leg and at the allow them to stretch a bit before attempting to put my foot into them. Ok. I was ready.

I sat on the edge of the tub, with the entire left leg in the palm of my left hand. I inserted my left foot into the toe and gently led the silky, tan fabric up my leg as far as the knee. Then I repeated the process on the right side. Success, so far. No runs. Now there was the continuation process to be dealt with.

Standing up, I attempted to pull the stocking up my thigh on the left leg. Something was wrong.
It was very, very tight...(think tournaquet). The right leg was not quite as tight, but still difficult. I leaned over and plucked the box out of the wastebasket to check the size. Ok. It read the correct size....and according to the chart on the box, it should fit someone thirty pounds heavier and quite a bit taller than my stubby little frame. I tossed the container back into the trash and continued the chore at hand.

I unrolled and pulled upward. I wiggled. I twisted. I yanked. I bent. I marched. I tugged. I pulled and jumped at the same time. I took a deep breath and grunted, all to no avail. Those L'Eggs were NOT going up this time.

I took them off and went to the drawer for another pair, one that's been worn before. I repeated the gyrations and accomplished the feat, feeling like a stuffed sausage, only to discover that there was a huge run from the heel up the back of my calf. I unrolled my second skin and tied a knot in the garment, and slam dunked that baby into the garbage with everything short of a cuss word!

Back to the drawer to find something else. Determining that time for church was rapidly approaching, I chose the 'easy way out'... a pair of knee high trouser socks and went to the closet for my favorite pair of black dress slacks. While pressing the fold line out of the leg where had been hung over a hanger, I thought about how vulnerable and vain we women are about so many things. For years we've worn stockings...why, other than warmth? Why would we subject ourselves to leg coverings and all of the aggravations associated with that?

There were days when there were just the silk stockings with the seams up the back, knotted at the top to keep them up. Then there was the war-time, when silk was precious and too expensive to induldge in, so women put leg make up on their legs, and drew a line up the back of their legs with an eyebrow pencil, to give the appearance of that seam, which would never stay straight! After WWII women wore 'nylons', a sort of 'fake silk'. To keep those things in place, there were lumpy garters, attached to uncomfortable girdles (think tournaquet again.) Following that, there was the garter belt, more comfortable than a girdle, it was a belt of fabric and elastic, with 4 long elastic strips which had a garter attached at the end to keep the stockings up. Often there was not enough tension on the stocking itself, and there would be wrinkles at the ankles, like baggy elephant legs have. To prevent that, someone came up with the idea of panty hose. No girdles, no belts, no lumpy garters. It seems like it would be a brilliant idea, but the agony involved in donning the item makes me wonder if the creator is responsible for inventing the many methods Chinese torture.

Because there is not much alternative, other than wearing slacks to every event I attend, I will once again attempt the wearing of pantyhose. If you want me next Sunday morning, look for me in my Master bathroom. I'll be the one who looks as if she's doing a native ritual dance of the hunt. The grimace on my face will tell you that my role is that of the hunted victim.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Not too long ago, I vented my thoughts about the clothing available to short, chubby, late middle-aged women. Today, I'm going to visit the shoe department.

Young women with strong muscles, young feet and little common sense, have the availability of a huge assortment of flimsy, strappy, non-sturdy shoes. There are thick-soled, round toes, and dainty flats with pointed-toes. There are stilettos, and chunky heels, both of which could break an ankle with one wrong step. There are crocks and clogs and slides.

Every time I go shopping, I look for a new pair of shoes. I've been wearing the same shoes to church for years. Why? Because they are the only comfortable pair I own that actually fits properly! I try them on in the store, I do the diligent check as to feel and fit as I walk around on the carpet. I bring them home, do the same careful examination as I walk on our carpet, only to find myself returning the footwear within days of the purchase.

Shoes are just NOT made for my feet. They pinch at the toe, they slide at the heel. They're not the size seven they claim to be, they're either too large or too small. The width normal width is either too wide, or it's too narrow. I know enough not to even attempt wide-width or narrow sizes. Shoe shopping is a futile chore for me.

I don't like flip flops because of that thing between the toe that causes a blister. I like open-toed strappy sandals in summer because it almost feels as if I'm barefoot. Well, it would feel that way if the straps were just a half inch longer so that they didn't suffocate my instep. I like dress boots, but with calves like mine, a knee-length boot is impossible for me to find. I'm suffering from a falling arch in my left foot, so a high heel is not feasible for me, and besides, I feel a little like the toe-dancing ballerina hippo in Disney's Fantasia when I'm stutting my stuff in high heels.

I'm not any more wild about bulky shoes than I am about bulky winter coats, so wearing work boots with my jeans doesn't thrill me. I used to wear clogs, but now I'm more comfortable in a lower 'slide'. I think crocs are quite comfortable, but equally as ugly. I'm not six years old, so little flat 'mary janes' is not an option for me, though I've seen other, younger women wearing them.

So, I continue to shop for shoes....most especially a nice pair of brown ones for church. As for every day, I wear a well-arched workout shoe, most would call a sneaker. Oh, and that brings up another topic of contention...sneakers. But don't let me start that one now, or I'll be here all day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Past Lives for The Present Ones

As I sit here looking at piles, no...mountains, of photographs to be creatively placed in my grandkids scrapbooks, I find myself wishing that my family members before me had been as enamored with the history-keeping. Oh yes, we've got some photos, glued with something like "Liquid Nails" to the black pages. One or two of the pictures have been labeled, but the majority of them are not, so unless we recognize the faces or the places, that history has been lost.

In my feeble attempts to keep up with my hobby, I not only adhere my loved ones faces to lovely, acid-free papers which in some way coordinate with the visual aid, but I date them and pen a brief journaling of what was happening to whomever is pictured there. If the story is longer, I generally type it out on the computer and give the story a page of it's own. This is my way of sharing past lives with the present ones....and preserving ours for future souls.

The kids love to see their own pictures, as well as each other's. They laugh at the clothing they were wearing or grimace at the way their hair was done. They enjoy remembering the events or asking questions about people, places or things. I enjoy spending that time with them, as we turn the pages of our lives, reliving our histories and those of our ancestors. I feel that they should know who their fore-family members were and how they lived. It is a history lesson, but it doesn't 'feel' like one to them. They are curious about life the way it was before the technologies that they live with entered our world. They want to see the faces of the people who they call Great-grandpa, and his parents, and their parents, because they were gone before the children were born.

There is so much to do, so many things to share, so much that I have to tell. It is a joy for me! I do, however, have an aching within my chest to know more than I do about the every-day details of those who were gone before I arrived. No one can give that to me now. I must work with what I've got and fill in the blanks with assumptions that their lives were lived in much the same way as others of the time period. I learn from those who did not leave those facts to me, however unimportant. I will add as much detail about 'today' as I can find time and thought for.

As I look toward that mountain of photos, I think it's time for me to leave this writing, and get busy. It will be a race for time as it is, and there's not a minute to waste. I'll see you later.....

Thursday, February 4, 2010


When I was younger and about three sizes smaller, I loved to go shopping for clothes. These days, I abhor the activity.

Why is it that 'designers' don't make flattering clothing for short, chunky women? Once a body enters out of the 'junior' sizes, everything becomes dark and 'frumpy'. When you've had a few children and you're subject to family genes which tend to be only those which cause fat to stick to the bones, you have little choice in clothing styles.

Well, I suppose that's not altogether true. If you have a hefty wallet, there may be hope for you. But if you're living on a budget and still want to be stylish, it's tough. The garments created for short, curvy women seem to be made for women of an elderly age. Even at the age of sixty plus years, I'm not ready to dress in black with fuller skirts and longer length....looking like I'm about to attend the funeral of my oldest friend. I also don't care to look as if I'm trying to fight old age. If the designs are made in lovely prints and colors, they seem to be made for fourteen year olds. I don't want to wear necklines cut to the navel and hemlines cut to the upper thigh. I don't want my waistband to meet my hem, either.

Is there no sweet medium between funeral attire or baggy britches and skin-tight high schoolers duds? Is there no one out there with a pen and a drawing board and eyes that see women as we really are? I'd be happy to show you a true body-type, and to collect the many others around me who have the same complaints. We are young at heart, well-endowed women who want to look nice, and still stay within our financial boundaries.

Come on, Fashion designers, you're ignoring a whole segment of society. Take a look at us, and fill the stores with something we can actually buy and feel good wearing.