Archive for the 'clothing' Category

“‘TO ALL AND SUNDRY — NEAR AND FAR …'”: Burgundy pullover

December 22, 2015

The weather here has been unseasonably warm, but some days the wind has been chilly and brisk and I have found warmer layers to be welcome when I go out walking.  So choosing what to wear has been a little more of a challenge for me this season.  Compounding this is my discovery recently that it now costs $5.20 to dry clean a heavy sweater at my local dry cleaners.

Anyway, I was trying to figure out layer #2 this morning, the one that comes after the cotton shirt, and I got stuck.  Do I want to get back out clothing I thought I had put away until next year?  Do I want to risk having to take another sweater to the dry cleaners after only minimal wear?  I had a number of specs and was having trouble figuring out what garment I owned would satisfy all of them.

So I did what I usually do when I get stuck and I threw it out to the universe for some guidance, and from that, I opened my closet, went straight to moving a couple of shoe boxes aside, and immediately discovered the perfect layer on a low shelf — an old burgundy pullover, washable, seasonally colorful, warm.

I remembered the article of clothing once I saw it, but I don’t think I could have actively named it as something I owned.

I think I had put it away somewhere obscure because I thought it was beginning to look a little down at the mouth.

This time of year I think about A.A. Milne’s “King John’s Christmas.”  My mother read it to us with great passion and fervor when we were young, and with especially great enthusiasm at the part near the end when the india-rubber ball makes its dramatic appearance.

Well, it’s not yet Christmas (then again, I’m not King John, nor even a Christian), and a pullover isn’t a ball, nor is burgundy really red, but I enjoyed seeing a faint parallel and thinking about what comes to us as a surprise from the outside may actually be something within us that we had merely lost sight of.


Goofy outtake

September 20, 2014

I did indicate that Jordan took more than one picture of me yesterday.  Here’s what happened when he tried to make me laugh.  He succeeded — but for some reason that resulted in my closing my eyes.


I also noticed when I looked at the picture up on a computer screen that I blend right in with my home decor — did not think of that when I was getting dressed in the morning with no thought of doing this.  The wallpaper predates our ownership of the house, so I’m not sure it’s just that “those are my colors.”  The shawl colors matching the dining room colors (the room is behind me to my right) I can see as having to do with my particular taste.   I love sculptures in which the figures can be seen emerging from the block of stone or wood from which they are carved — maybe I’d like to think of this as a sort of live version of that.


My Wendy Davis boots

March 7, 2014

What color is “poppy”?  I didn’t assume I know, so I looked at the pictures — in the print catalog and then online on the company’s website, and the color looked like red to me.  The product was mid-calf height rubber rain boots.

The poppies in my gardens are red, so red seemed to be a reasonable color for “poppy” to be.

I thought of ordering black, but I spend half the winter in black boots (and half in brown), so I am ready for a change.  I have fond memories of wearing red boots, and up here in New England I thought I could get away with wearing red rain boots, even as a middle-aged woman.

I want them for the spring mud and melt-off, especially when I’m out walking.

Well, the boots that came are not red.  They are the color of my neighbor’s poppies, that is, deep pink.

I do wear some pink in my clothing choices, especially because I have such a pink complexion.  My glasses are pale pink.  But bright deep solid coral pink is a little further than I would intentionally go.  As a stripe in a pair of socks, I would wear it in a heartbeat, but pink rubber rain boots?  I would not have chosen that color in that item knowingly.

I was, of course, offered the option of returning the boots.  Pack ’em up, ship ’em out, wait a number of weeks, and I could have black.  Instead I accepted some money off of what I paid and I am wearing them.

I’m thinking they could be my political statement in support of Wendy Davis’ candidacy for Texas governor, she of the pink running shoes.

Actually, what made me decide to keep them was the chance to come to terms with having something pink foisted on me to wear.  That happened to me when I was a youngster being pressured into taking ballet class.  This time around I am better able to find a way to fit the pink into my life, including seeing it as an opportunity to overcome feeling self-conscious about it and troubling myself about reactions I might get.

When I wore the pink boots to run some errands this morning, the clerk at one of my stops had hair that was dyed a bright pinkish red.  That made me feel in the swim.

I do think life often gives us multiple opportunities to learn something, and that eventually we and a situation match up well enough for us to be able to hit the pitch and learn whatever it is we needed to learn — and in a context in which our learning our lesson also helps serve the greater good.


January 15, 2014

I found myself in Belmont Center yesterday.  I apparently hadn’t been there for years, because every time I asked shopkeepers about changes, they told me “about three years ago.”  Without Bildner’s (a grocery store) and Filene’s (a department store; the Macy’s replacement just wasn’t the same, and now the location is empty) and Charlesbank Books, it ceased to be a particularly beckoning destination for us.

I saw a gorgeous scarf.  It’s more of a shawl, it’s wool, cream colored with pinkish paisley, and it’s, tastefully, beaded.  It was not cheap, but nor was it unreasonably priced.  I braced myself and got out my cash.

The salesperson rang it up with sales tax, so what she asked me for was noticeably higher than the tag price.  I said, “But it’s clothing” [and so shouldn’t be subject to sales tax], and she and her colleague said, “It’s an accessory” [and hence taxable].  I inferred that my choices were to pay what they were charging or to put it back, and I went with Option A.

When I got home and had eaten lunch, I went to my computer and googled “scarves sales tax ma,” or something to that effect, and sure enough, it’s exempt from tax, according to a state government document I found right away.  Right there grouped with neckwear and ties.

I called the store, they were very nice, told me if I came back with the receipt, they would give me back the tax.  Which I did.  We had a lovely conversation, quite friendly.  I recalled I had actually been through this at least once before, with shawls sold by an antique store that used to be in Brattle Square in Arlington.  I think shops that don’t sell primarily clothing are more apt to make this mistake.  (This shop in Belmont told me, “That’s the way it comes up in ‘the system.'”  I won’t get started on my technology issues here.)

Why I bring this up is that I don’t think I could have gotten any further at the time of purchase than I got.  There was no willingness to entertain the issue at that point.  They, not surprisingly, had a computer, but I don’t think it would have been effective to have asked them to go online and check.  I ended up expending the extra time and gas to go back, but c’est la vie, it didn’t take long and it’s not that far.

This resonated for me with other encounters, including formal meetings with bureaucratic officials, I’ve had, where afterwards, I wonder why I didn’t press my case further.  The scarf situation didn’t have much emotional overlay to it, paying the extra money was not fraught with anything in particular — it was just money, enough that I noticed, not so much as to be upsetting — so I could see more easily that there really wasn’t an opening to pursue the issue further at the moment.  It made me feel better about similar experiences in past situations, reassuring that I probably really hadn’t missed real opportunities.


December 12, 2013

I got an email from a small business I’ve bought things from in the past.  It’s called KIOSK, and they have an idiosyncratic inventory.  I think I originally came upon them when I was looking for small wooden eating utensils.

Anyway, I get this email and I do them the courtesy of a loyal customer of taking a look to see if there’s anything that I need.  I notice mittens, and the pair I generally use for snow shoveling has gotten kind of worn out to the point the mittens are not that warm anymore.  So I contemplate buying a pair of their deerskin mittens, even though they are sized for men.  Since I used to wear a pair of Willy’s deerskin mittens for snow shoveling, before they, too, got too worn out, I thought I ‘d give this pair a try.  But I was also thinking, “These mittens really don’t match my coats.”

So last evening a friend of mine followed through on giving me a hand-me-down down coat she had been talking to me about for a long time — maybe over a year?  Anyway, I had been picturing this coat as black, because that’s the color of coats I’ve seen her wear, but this one turned out to be navy blue — and with a gold lining that matches the mittens I ordered the day before.

Although my friend is taller than I am, the coat seems to fit and I accepted it.

It also reminded me of Willy’s last down parka — navy blue.  Somehow the hood on that coat became misplaced, I thought during the dry cleaning process, but my dry cleaner said no.  The hood has never surfaced in the house, but who knows, it might still.  My hand-me-down has a hood.

Now here’s the kicker.

It is true that both Willy and my friend were/are engineers, although Willy was an electrical engineer and my friend I think is a structural engineer, so maybe the following is not so surprising.  But:  after we walked up to Robbins Farm to view the city lights and we came back to my house and had supper, she had to go off to hear a presentation from someone in her field.  I had asked where she needed to get to, to figure out how much time we had, and she had earlier said Concord.

When we got back to my house and she looked up her lecture and directions to get there, it turned out to be at MIT Lincoln Lab in Lexington — where Willy worked.

I gave her directions off the top of my head (which she confirmed on her phone).

I felt as if I had been visited by a lot of old memories.

Keeping up with the seasons

October 28, 2013

I was so proud of myself for figuring out the autumn hat thing — as I wrote some time around the turn of summer into fall, I had to figure out what to replace my straw hat with, when the seasons changed, since my skin continues to remain sensitive to the sun.

Eventually I found a floppy-brimmed felt hat with a rounded crown and a band and flower in the same grey felt.  I’ve been happy with it, although I need to hold onto my hat in a high wind (especially near the reservoir).

Today my ears were cold.

A friend had already asked me what I am going to do in the winter to keep my ears warm.  I talked about maybe using a scarf to help, but really I just haven’t thought it through yet.

I’ve got warm hats, ones that cover my ears, but they won’t protect my face from the sun.

I’m still not sure what the answer is.  Two hats?  A parasol?  Ear flaps?  Earmuffs, or a headband, plus my floppy broad-brimmed hat?  I will probably engage in a little trial and error to come up with something.

Measuring inflation

September 30, 2013

I get frustrated when I hear about how little inflation there is;  measured how, I want to ask.

One of the ways I see the cost of living increasing is the replacing of a higher quality item with one that doesn’t function as well.  The sticker price may stay the same or even go down, but the value isn’t the same.  Is that measured by indices of inflation?  It’s not just about enjoying a better quality immediately, it’s also about the longevity of the item.  As I understand it, chained CPI as a measure of inflation actually does the opposite, assuming cheaper substitutions are adequate and don’t create measurable loss.  I think it’s an underhanded way to avoid coming to grips with the impact of inflation without seeming to do so.

This morning I was thinking about the quality factor, though.

I have my thermostats turned down, because, like many around where I live, we just don’t want the heat to turn on until we are deeper into the autumn season.  Temperatures warm up outside during the day, so some chill at night and in the early morning doesn’t seem so bad.

But I don’t like being cold either.  I find a thick wool sweater is a big help.  They have gotten expensive.  Many sweaters for sale are now blends, often including synthetics, and I don’t find them as warm or as helpful in maintaining my physical comfort — I can become both sweaty and cold wearing them.

When I went to Town Day last weekend, I bought a big heavy wool sweater for $35.00.  I put it on this morning and went, “Yes!  This is what works!”  It’s warm, but it breathes.

But it makes me wonder whether one has to head back to some sort of more rudimentary economy than our mainstream one in order to maintain this sort of way of life.  Because I bought my sweater from a small vendor.  In cash.  No shipping, no bricks and mortar store, no advertizing, no separate sales tax (I have no idea whether such vendors pay it to the state nonetheless).

I don’t have the time to buy all my things this way, it’s not a very efficient way to acquire what one needs.  That cost in time and energy is not measured by economic indices, either, I don’t think.  But these are the realities.

Anyway, the sweater also amuses me because it is a little too loud and a little too big, but it does have a zipper and pockets, too.  It’s grey, but with burgundy, red, greens, and white in a pattern at the yoke and at the cuffs.  Kind of like a Norwegian sweater.  The pattern involves zig-zag stripes and fleur-di-lis.  And it was a one-size-fits-all deal.  Which will actually come in handy in the winter, when even with the heat on, I need to wear layers to keep warm — this will fit over them all.

It’s a nice way to beat the cold and inflation.

Hats and memories

September 21, 2013

I developed a substantial sensitivity to sunlight on the skin on my face, starting about the time my father died this past winter.  My dermatologist prescribed a topical creme to reduce inflammation (in the blood vessels, I think) and told me to stay out the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat when I am out in the sun, etc.  We also discovered that my skin won’t tolerate even the mildest sunscreen.

I was not unhappy wearing a  broad-brimmed hat this spring and summer.  Now it’s fall, more or less, and straw or raffia don’t seem right.

So I thought (now this, I admit, is a little illogical), “Okay, the sun is more intense in summer, maybe I don’t need to wear a hat all the time when I’m out anymore, now that the season’s changing.”  No one had ever said this would be a seasonal issue, and it had started in the dead of winter, but I thought, “Maybe,” nonetheless.

So I didn’t wear a hat for a few days, and now my face hurts.

Those who see confirmation bias are free to do so.

Anyway, it’s pretty clear this skin condition has not cleared up (I suspect that had also been my hope), that the season makes no (or not enough of a?  I got away with no hat for a couple of days) difference, and that I will need to continue the hat thing.

Here’s where I’m running into an emotional issue.  Willy wore a hat, I think it’s called an outback style.


Once I start wearing a non-straw hat, it will remind me of him, as if I am adopting one of his habits.  That feels uncomfortable.  That is part of what I am trying to avoid.

I think my project is to find a hat that I like, that suits (season and hair), and hope that it (and its style, whatever it turns out to be) resolves the echo issue in an unexpected and helpful way.


June 27, 2013

My mother got herself a new pair of glasses, a cell phone, a room fan, and a couple of pairs of slacks and a few blouses, some socks, etc.  This morning she’s got her second hair-dressing appointment in about a month.  Two ladies will come to her home in the afternoon to play a card game and enjoy refreshments.

It’s an amazing turn-around from where she was a year ago.

She hadn’t bought new clothes for years.

The makeover in my house is going on in the back bedroom in which Willy died.  The plasterers are here.  The ceiling has been replaced, the eave wall, too, the other walls repaired.  They’ll come back and paint another day.

My mother and Willy had a connection.  He did a very sweet but funny imitation of her.  Their birthdays were about a week (and 30 years) apart, and we once celebrated two milestone birthdays of theirs together.  She struggled terribly when he got sick and died.

So maybe there’s some connection between the makeovers, I don’t know.  I just saw too many new cracks in the walls and called the plasterer, was my perspective.

Weeds in the lawn

May 5, 2013

My grandfather, my mother’s father, lived with us for a few months after my grandmother died, until he found a retirement home he liked.  While he lived with us, I watched more baseball (with the sound off).  I want to say it was the Mets, but my mother doesn’t think so.  But I do clearly remember he thought the dandelions in the lawn should be left alone.

I think I have that thought about what I have thought of as spiritual spam — miscellaneous stuff that comes in when I open myself up to the universe at large.

Gita made the obvious point to me not long ago that there’s a difference between the psychic and the spiritual.  We were talking about a neighbor of mine, and Gita commented that she could be psychically and not spiritually developed.

I think, maybe, I am too tolerant of the psychic because I think it contains the potential for spiritual development.  Maybe I’m wrong about that.

I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about how the psychic and the spiritual relate to each other beyond that the former seems to me to be about relationships on a horizontal plane and the latter about relationships either along a vertical axis or into other dimensions.  But I think I’ve thought that the apparatus used is the same — like using the same cell phone for different types of phone calls.  But that’s just an unexamined assumption I’ve been working under, and it may well be wrong.

So I am going to let that issue percolate somewhere within me:  what do the psychic and the spiritual have in common and how are they different, including in terms of technique and apparatus?  Are they related to one another?  Can one mimic the other?  Has that confused people and deterred them from spiritual development?

Gita has counseled me for a long time to practice better spiritual technique so that my spam problem dissipates.  I don’t know if it’s willful laziness on my part or heeding a deeper call that I don’t.  Gita calls me a kinetic sponge, and that seems to be a pretty accurate summation.  Maybe that’s how I’m supposed to be, I don’t know, in order to do what I do (or have done), but I suspect that issue is entangled with my tendency not to distinguish the psychic from the spiritual — I open all channels, take it all in from whatever means the sender can muster.

Willy got a kick out of garment tags that caution the buyer not to mistake the “slurbs and nubblies” in, say, a sweater, for mistakes and defects.  (I think they’re called “slubs,” I suspect “slurbs and nubblies” was Willy’s contribution, maybe modeled on “nooks and crannies” from the Thomas’ English Muffin commercials, but maybe a riff on a phrasing that was actually contained in a tag.)  I wouldn’t want to do something similar.  Certainly we try to figure out an appropriate posture for dealing with the slurbs and nubblies of our humanness.

But I know I run up against an unpleasant pattern of being caught up short by having mistaken a person’s abilities of one sort for abilities of another, and that doesn’t serve anybody.

If nothing else, I can be aware of all these factors even if I’m not sure how they fit together — a little detachment is often a first step towards sorting something out.