Thursday, May 21, 2015

Going Back To The Well

I said no more dresses or skirts. Never end up wearing them: can't be arsed shaving the legs, they're all too short these days, what shoes do you wear with them...and how do you make them casual?  I swore I would not buy anything for upcoming Harley Graduation Season. (I heard there might be some other kids graduating too, what a coincidence...) But I bought something anyway. It's a Nicole Miller - she pretty much makes a variation of this same dress every year.

Already wore this twice so will be quids by the year-end. It has ambidextrous stretching,  is v-neck, (my sister Shazza does not care for v-neck but I like it) below-knee (vital for collapsing leg hinges) and covers the bingo wings. In short: all animal parts checked and happy.

Yonder darts and such

Most importantly, easy to make good for Oakland-wearing with navy leather jacket, clonky shoes and Metal Earth necklace.

crouchy comfy

I went back to the well for this one.  My inaugural Nicole Miller was four years ago, but became too short and flew down to the sister in New Zild.

Four years ago with Martin and David at Kn'M's house overlooking Oakland. Martin and David are now married!

Not that I would compare myself to these stylish women, but here's some notable "Back To the Well-ers."

Old Anna:

She loves her frayed boucles with jacket worn on shoulders and delicate shoes. (Seen on GSL's blog)

When she deviated (at the Met Ball) she looked a little hunched and uncomfortable
Old Betty:

Stuck to her scarf-pearls-brooch even when she went back to college (seen on FF's blog)

The Tomboy trou of Katherine Hepburn. For more Tomboys see Kim's blog today.

And tennis sensation Alethea Gibson

Nobody could do a white shirt, black tie and moto jacket like Patti Smith.

By the way, I couldn't resist this - Patti at high school!

Totes adorbs Zooey Deschanel of New Girl in her below-the-brows bangs (fringe) and short print frocks.

Do you go Back To The Well or are you a Switcher Upper?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


We said a really sad goodbye to our lovely Mary who died at the age of 71. She was Kevin's aunty. She was one of those rare people who lit up the room with her smile and yet never claimed attention. She was always laughing and made everyone in that room feel just great about themselves.

Mary, when she was in her early twenties.

She left way before her time. I feel like Mary had just started on the second half of her life. She got a new lease of life after she retired. She got fit and traveled with her brother Bob to the Cotswolds and down to Devon for some rambling in the hills and pastures and towns. (She never lost her sense of childlike joy and silliness; she and Bob crawled up one scary cliff path on hands and knees, cursing their friend Lew for leading them there  - and then giggled for days about it.) She was the most besotted grandmother you've ever seen: giddy at the pleasure of helping look after her four young grandchildren, and now she had the time to do just that.

Thanksgiving: Mary's daughter Janelle with Lila and Grady

Mary was born and raised in Kansas and lived there most of her life.  She remained very close to her extended family who mostly lived there too. She brought up her two children, Janelle and Brent, by herself. Towards the end of her working life, she took on two jobs, yet never complained and always focused on how lucky she was.

Mary's father, Harley, was a dentist and her mother, Elizabeth, incredibly sadly, died of complications from childbirth seven weeks after Mary was born. Mary had two older brothers, Bill and Bob. Her father eventually re-married a widow, Nina, who had a daughter named Rowena.

Baby Mary with her two brothers. Her mother died before this photo was taken.

Toddler Mary

Mary on her birthday with her father Harley and her two brothers, Bill and Bob

Mary (far left) with her brothers, Bill and Bob, and Nina and then sister-in-law Marlene.

One day, when Mary was nine years old, her father, Harley, died suddenly of a heart attack. Their stepmother, Nina, was left to care for all four children.  Seeking work to pay the bills, Nina entered the town elections and won the job of Court Clerk for Cherokee County, Kansas. After that Nina never lost an election. But still, it was a pretty hard life.

Mary grew up incredibly pretty with smiley eyes and a head of auburn curls. She became the family historian and was a wonderful source of stories. She knew about all the generations including one grandmother who was likely Cherokee.  She kept everyone connected with her stories and anecdotes and the family tree in her head.

When our Harley was born nearly 18 years ago in London, Mary collected photos, including some of the ones I've posted today, and sent us a wonderful photo book. She always told the family stories with a ready laugh or a smile. I remember thinking that her fine smile looked drawn by a quill pen with a curly flourish at the corners.

Ever unassuming and always cheerful, Mary did not want to talk about her illness, even at the end. She asked that there would be no service. She did agree to a celebration of life which will be in Kansas in June.

Mary and her brother Bob at our place for Thanksgiving three years ago

Mary, her daughter Janelle and nephew Kevin
Grandma Patty, Tallulah and Aunt Mary

Cheers! Patty, Bob, Kevin, Mary and Mac

We will miss you like crazy, Mary.  I'm so, so sad that we won't see you again...that you won't be around for all those times you deserved after working so hard all your life. There was that next walk in the Cotswolds with your brother, Bob, with some more giggling. There were many more family Thanksgivings at our house watching the kids play wiffle ball and telling family tales over a glass of Mac's best Pinot. There were those glittery days of balloons and cakes and candles, seeing your beautiful blonde and red-head grandkids celebrate another birthday or arriving home from their first day of the new school year.

When you were with us, you made each moment special because you were such a special person. You were a born historian who felt deeply for her family and you knew the magical timelessness of that moment better than any of us.

Mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, friend.  Mary.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men Finale: The Don-A-Lisa Smile

I was one of the ones who fell for it. What an arc, I thought - that enigmatic smile at the top of the cliffs in Esalen on the Big Sur, California. Don Draper had finally evolved. But then the old hubstar, Kevin, pointed it out. Don's smile was creative paydirt - he'd just thought of his next idea: the Coke ad.

Don hadn't made the leap from heavy drinking, womanising, absent father, sort of anti-hero - to hero. He was exactly the same person. We were put off the scent when he hugs the tearful guy in the group session in Esalen. But even that wasn't empathetic, he was feeling sorry for himself - that man exemplified Don as a child: overlooked and ignored. And anyway, throughout the series, we saw Don felt for the underdog stranger or those in pain. Sometimes he was kind to Peggy, he tried to help his niece, that boy who stole from him, that waitress that he followed to Wisconsin.  But he couldn't feel for those closest to him. As Don's niece told him, he was the biggest mess of all.

We should have known. Sally tells him about Betty's cancer and he calls Betty. Yet even when Betty said she wanted to keep things normal and that meant him not being around, even then, he wasn't shamed into rushing back to see his kids.

I always felt a bit resentful that Don remained so likable, or compellingly watchable is a better description (Oh how we would love to tell everyone off like he did!) despite that he was such a rubbish, absent Dad.  No matter how awfully he treated other people, they forgave him and wanted to be around him. How did he get away with that? Can you think of a single female character like that?

To be sure old Betty was a bit of a cold fish, but was she really the Bad Mother she was tagged? (Excepting that scene where she slapped Sally). She was a mother of her times. Reminds me of that dreadful expression "The Good-Enough Mother" coined back then.

Although...who else squirmed at the impending doom on the Bobby's field trip when Betty volunteers (for the first time) to chaperone Bobby's field trip? Thye arrived, all was good and then she was furious when Bobby gave away her sandwich. In an NPR interview, writer and director, Matthew Weiner said this was a recreation of an actual incident in his own life. He had never seen his mother eating, so he gave away her sandwich on a field trip. He said the pain he felt for months, years, after, was partly his being overly sensitive and his mother being not sensitive enough.

It will be interesting to see what January Jones plays next - will she always be distant or was that just good acting? (When dating Ashton Kutcher back in the day, apparently he told her she could not act and to give up.)

The endings were all perfect without any sort of gratuitous pathos. Loved the spare, deflecting conversations.  Characters answered a question with a statement: see Pete and his brother at the restaurant. There was no climactic, understanding scene between Betty and Sally: just them comfortably in the kitchen together, Sally making the dinner and Betty smoking and reading.

Peggy (loved her so much; her outfits never failed to miss the mark just a bit) was destined to have a happy ending as she was always vulnerable. One of the best moments from the show is below. She is left in their old offices; her new company hasn't bothered to organise her an office. She skates around their old offices while Roger playing the electric organ. Fueled and fed-up, she walks over to the new company and totally owns that hallway; dark glasses, drunk and with a ciggy hanging out the side of her mouth.

Joan's arc was the highest and most complete - she chose her career and none of us were sad the millionaire woosied out. She started, as one writer so beautifully put it,  being a defender of the patriarchy and ended, determined to burn it all down. With lippy on.

(And by the way, if you haven't been to Esalen,  run, walk or do downward facing dogs to get there. Doing yoga in the big old yurt amid the wailing rain and wind and then bubbling in the hot tubs on the cliff face - go in the dark if you don't want to see loads of naked people -  is like no other thing. )

How will we get by without our friends from Mad Men, what we will think about now? Will we continue to have those conversations about who we loved best, who had the best lines. Roger Sterling, handsdown. Some of the best here.  (To Freddy Rumsen) "There's a line, Freddy. And you wet it." (S2, E9)

I wanted to think Pete had changed, but I doubted he had.

Now, were you fooled like me about the Don smile? Or did you know what was behind it immediately?

(By the way, do watch the old 1971 Coke's kind of creepy viewed from 2015.

All about the ad here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lounge Pant

Are you embracing the Lounge Pant? (everything is singular here in the US; pant, not pants) This is the first in my series of the Pants: the Lounge Pant, the Party Pant and Square Pants. All of which can veer into the Ugly Pants category. The Lounge Pants are not particularly flattering and yet somehow they were calling me. They even make Alessandra Ambrosio (mmm now I feel like some of that goopy fruit salad) ... well bigger is not the word, but not as skeletal. If you want to wear these you have to turn the cheek. Here's my latest foray...

It has a expandable band round the back

Here's some celebs wearing the Lounge Pant.

Alessandra Ambrosio

A real life happening

Ashley Tisdale with the tie dye
Kate Hudson

Singer Nicole Scherzinger
Sierra. I know.

These are the even loosier goosy wide-legged version, which counter-intuitively, are more flattering.

And the ones in-between

These are not to be confused with Party Pants - Amal Clooney (can this woman do no high-end clobber wrong? I don't think so!) looks brilliant in her new ones,  groovy but sleek.

My ones are a Lounge Pants-Ugly Pants hybrid - they look a bit measles-y from far away and you don't want to be seen running in them.  They qualify as veritable Man-Repellers (the old Hubstar gave them the thumbs down) but somehow they are happy making.

Here are my inaugural pair of Lounge Pant which I took to the Camino in Spain. They were ambidextrous as all get-out  - I wore them night and day.  Probably I looked a bit cat-lady-crazy in silk pants-PJs with storks on them, but loved the material and how comfy they were.

Wearing Lounge Pant by day and by night Camino in torrential rain with Pietra (left of me) and two Swedish sisters we met

Full Disclaimer: If you live somewhere steamy-hot or you suffer from what my friend Mike calls "swamp arse" (I know, I know, I'm always doing the technical fashion terms) or you have heated leather seats in your car (Smell You Princess Grace, as my other friend Kenny would say) this may not be the trend for you. Just sayin.'

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