Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not Your Daughter's Jeans

My daughters and I love Nordstrom Rack. But when we shop there, I don't listen to their advice anymore. They want me to look contemporary, but have failed to take my middle-aged body into account. 

In the dressing room they laughed at my ugly, euphemistically named "Classic" style panties. "Oh, Mom! You need hipsters."  Well, I used to wear hipsters, back when they didn't subdivide my belly into two distinct rolls instead of just one. 

My torso is shaped like an apple, with the equator where a waist ought to be. When I shopped with the girls, I used to buy too many pair of cute pants that hit below the bulge, with nothing to hang onto. So they slid, and left too much backside uncovered. They were both uncomfortable and unbecoming. 

To fix that problem, one of them talked me into trying Spanx. They're manufactured out of industrial strength elastic that could restrain a large circus animal. It was a two-woman operation just to get them pulled up. And heaven help me if I needed to peel them down by myself. 

Then one day, I let them wander and I stumbled across a rack of pants whose label called out to me. "Not Your Daughter's Jeans."

  They fit my middle aged body without looking stodgy. They advertise "Lift Tuck Technology", a panel across the front that pulls in my tummy. They're stylish and made of good quality fabric in great colors. I like the way I look and feel when I wear them. My daughters approve.   

And each pair makes me laugh. The label says:

How many times do you come out of a dressing room laughing?

Thank you, NYDJ. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sprigs: It's 18 degrees, it must be summer somewhere

Gosh golly but it's been too darn cold to even imagine spring. So thank goodness for the equator and regions that can produce long-lasting, graceful alstroemerias in January. 

It's easy to convince myself that if the catalog says you can grow them in zone 7, then I can. (I have found that catalogs vary in labeling a plant for cold hardiness. Be cautious and double check a neutral gardening website for a particular species.)

Despite the supplier's optimistic claim, tall Peruvian lilies have not been successful in my garden. I had a thick stand of the yellow ones for several years. They bloomed well, but there are only a few survivors left. The pink ones sent up leaves but never did bloom.  

If I'd done more research I would have chosen a sunnier-in-the-morning site and heavy winter mulch. I think I know just the spot to try this time. 

In the meantime, I'll hustle back to Lowe's grocery store for my next floral fix, and hope the temperatures moderate.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Put the Octopus to Bed

I've been in bed for an hour and my brain is still overactive. (Scientists call it wandering brain syndrome).  So many anxieties have popped up that I produce adrenaline instead of melatonin. Trying to calm my thoughts is like trying to tuck an octopus into a bed.   

Its head is cozy on the pillow, and the covers are up around the "neck", but one sinuous tentacle slides up, and reaches for me. I tuck it back under the covers while a second tentacle sneaks out from the other side and starts to wrap around my neck. It's not malicious, but demands my attention. 

I name each tentacle after one of my preoccupations:  unanswered questions about finances, unresolved frustrations with technology,  a nagging difficult relationship, anxiety about an upcoming oral presentation. I find myself having imaginary conversations with an accountant then my sister and being on hold with a tech support desk. 

My mind's not just wandering now, it's ramped up to running long jumps. My thoughts are pounding as fast as an athlete's track shoes. 

I step out of reach of the thin arms covered in suction disks that would fix themselves to me.  The octopus must be shut away. I put it in an aquarium. Once I imagine myself beyond each worry, I can quiet myself. But just to be sure they don't try to sneak out, I write each distraction in my phantom calendar, with the name of a person who can help me with the problem. I can't deal with them now, but I will deal with them later. 

And if I see him on the move, slowly extending upwards, groping for a way out, I remind myself that the tank is locked tightly locked.  (unlike the video above!)  I roll over, turning my back on the mute creature. 

Sleep tight! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sprigs: Winter plowing

Several local fields have already been plowed. The red soil adds vibrant color to the naked landscape. And it signals hope of planting and new growth. 

But isn't January too early? 

 A farmer friend explained that the clumps of clay, exposed to rain and cold temperatures, will get broken up through the freeze and thaw cycle.  Do you know that feeling, when tough circumstances leave you exposed and vulnerable? 

Hopefully you know the corollary, too, that the process can produce receptivity to fresh insights. Renewed energy follows and there is readiness for a new direction. 

When enduring a difficult time, consider that plowing makes the ground more hospitable to the seed. In due time, the fields will be fruitful. 

The Bible puts it this way: "No discipline [Greek word paideia, means training, education, instruction] seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Scottish drummers and Yo Yo Ma

  Despite all the feel-good platitudes that I'm the only one like me in the world, that doesn't make me anything special. And that's okay. 

But I love to be part of the audience for those who truly are exceptional. Dancers, instrumentalists--there's a rare electricity about live performance. I vicariously exult in the beauty talented people achieve. So I add architects to my favorites list.

Scottish Pipe Band Drummers by Hilary Gaunt
 a photo by Hilary Gaunt on Flickr.
Once I got a free ticket to a student solo drum recital. I thought it would be a dud, but the young man marched onto the stage dressed in formal Scottish kilt and jacket. He looked dashing and the music was astonishing. I couldn't believe the myriad ways he used drumsticks, or the variety of sound he created with a snare drum. 

As an enthusiastic, but unaccomplished violinist, instrumental music is my favorite. How bad I am makes me appreciate how good they are. Forty years ago I attended a symphony concert of Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," conducted by the composer. He was 70, and energetic for a man I considered "elderly." It was a double thrill since it was the first time I heard his music live. Ah, this is what my professor meant by an esthetic experience.

In December I took my granddaughters to the Nutcracker ballet. This was the best of several productions of that ballet I've seen. This time I was struck by the emotions the dancers conveyed, particularly humor. The little girls were captivated by the sets painted on curtains which rolled on stage and off. Em asked "How did they do that?" when the Christmas tree grew and fog rolled across the stage. 

The Denver (Co) Ellie Caulkins Opera House is a work of art in itself. It is a renovated space in a hundred year old building. The opera house's very modern chandelier collapses and disappears into the ceiling at the rise of the curtain.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

We were surprised and delighted that the 
foyer's chandelier
is by Dale Chihuily. My granddaughter studied the glass-blower in her art class, and our family has a personal connection to him (albeit distant and weak!) 

We were pleased that our seats in the first balcony put us close enough to hear the dancer's toe shoes tap on stage. We could peer into the pit and watch the musicians. 

I have a goal to be that close when I finally hear Yo Yo Ma play. I want to sit on the edge of my seat and see his infectious grin pointed at my section of the 
concert hall. I want to be able to see the rosin fly off his bow when he attacks a fortissimo passage. I want to clap until it stings, and joy clogs my throat with  tears.

Oh, yes. 

When was the last time you indulged yourself an exhibit, concert or theater that reminded you of the human potential to create beauty?  Where do you find it? 

Keep an eye out for news of Mr. Ma. I fear I've missed my chance for 2014, but if you hear of something within a 500 mile radius--let me know! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Country Mouse in the City

I'm definitely a country mouse. Population for our zip code is 2,200. Although we've grown by 61.46% between the 2000 and 2010 census I think those were mainly cows and goats. I love living in the boonies.

I can walk to this grocer's from my daughter's house.

But there are some city luxuries I really miss. For example, Starbucks coffee shops inside the grocery stores. If I could sip a Starbucks when I shopped for groceries, I might shop.

Instead, I send my husband.

The cart even has a cup holder!

When we get to Colorado I volunteer to go the local grocery store every chance I get. Need a quart of milk and diapers? I'll go! No list is too small or too large if I can sip a grande mocha latte while I browse.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Gardener's Wish Books

As children living in a small town, my sisters and I poured over Sears’ "wish book"  for Christmas.

The second wave wish books are arriving now--the garden catalogs. The garden gnomes pick up the pace as the elves slack off. The first catalog arrived  December 27th and I've received four so far. 

The monotony and restrictions of winter lift as I turn the glossy pages. I don't know for sure but I bet the prettier catalogs lure customers to spend more. They conjure images of an Eden-like garden of heirloom tomatoes untouched by blight or bug. Beets thrive in perfectly straight rows, and they don't bolt. Melons spread unmolested by mold or varmint. 

The photos beguile me, and I imagine that from mid-April through October the garden will produce abundantly, without flood, drought, or poor timing.

 The less flashy publications entice me with their variety. Just the tiny picture of a sunset runner bean makes me want to plant a 20' row supported by trellis, so I can see a wall of salmon colored blossoms.

That is precisely my problem. I want them all! Just as I learned that Santa wouldn't bring everything we hankered for, I know my enthusiasm turns into plant lust. And if I give into the temptation, I will eventually be disgusted with myself because I can't get them all planted, or weeded. And on occasion I wish they'd quit producing.

I'll surf the wave of craving, and when it crests in about a month, I'll settle for the basics. But then again, maybe I'll appease the daydreamer within and order something exotic like Creme Brûlée Peppers  or Alvaro melon seeds.

Maybe you'll make a suggestion before I place my order. What do you consider the most flavorful tomato? What new variety have you tried and designate a winner? 

I know many of you have tried to post comments. It's easiest if you have a gmail account.  If you do, please give it a try. One of a blogger's goals is to generate discussion, and I'm batting about 0.020.  

The major leagues wouldn't keep me!