Friday, June 09, 2006


June 9th, 2006

Haberdashery: I always thought that was the word used to describe men's hats.

I was wrong!

The term actually means "dealing with men's clothing and accessories". Accessories, for men, used to ALWAYS include hats. Just look at the "old" movies (old, right up to the 1950's) and notice how ALL the men wear hats. Brim styles defined personality. A hat worn low on the brow suggested the man was suave, or dangerous. Pushed back on the head, the guy was probably a bit clueless. Tipped over one eye, a charmer, or a rake.


(Picture is of my Bernie, at Bayou Bend Garden, Houston, TX.)

Cowboy "flicks" used to use hats to signal the man's character. The four men from Bonanza for instance: Imagine Hoss' big bulbous beige hat on Little Joe! Changes everything, doesn't it?

My grandfather earned his living working in a Men's hat store in San Diego. I have seen a picture of the store's opening day, I think back in the 1920's. I'll have to check the title of the store again.

Dashing: definition: Marked by smartness, especially in dress and manners.

I think wearing a hat automatically makes a man look "dashing", and puts the "dash" in Haberdashery!

And as one of my naughty hat buddies once said:

"A hat on a man is to a woman, as lingerie on a woman is to a man".

You'd think the men would figure this out. "Victor's Secret" and "Fredricka's of Hollywood" would consist solely of fedoras, homburgs, gouchos and gamblers. In felt and straw!

Just to expand the idea, and maybe cause a few daydreams, check this link for men's hats:

Then take a quick trip to St. Paul to see a modern day haberdasher:

Yum! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 08, 2006

June 8th, 2006: Is it really a small world after all?

This blog is a copy of the letter I sent in response to a TWO PAGE article in the Houston Chronicle today, that was written by Joy Sewing (really!) and Mary Vuong, about how there has been a slight reduction in the availability of petite clothing lines and styles in stores.
And the difficulties endured by the vertically challenged.

You may see the article at:

(Warning: You might want to get your flame resistant outfit on for this one…or at least a sun dress to help you stay cool)

Hello Joy and Mary;

I have really enjoyed your columns in the past, and always look forward to seeing your byline!

I read your article today about the reduction in Petite clothing lines carried in area stores.

I especially noted this comment:

"To get what they wanted, many petite women had to buy misses size clothing and spend more to have them tailored".

May I offer a simple response: Give. Me. A. Break.

My world is like this:

As a tall woman, in order to get ANYTHING that really fits, I, like most TALL women, have to have clothing custom made.
Because, of course, it is not possible to find something, and to make it LONGER all over!

I have NOT found ANY store (Dillard’s, Macy's, Ann Tailors, Neiman Marcus etc etc) with an area, or designer just for TALL ladies. Tall ladies, as myself, and my daughter, and many, many of my friends. Those of us who range in height from 5'9 (like me) to 6'3 (like my friend).

We tall women all have experienced what it is like to need:

swim wear
underwear (really!)
and shoes

that will cover our perfectly proportioned bodies. We have gone shopping, found nothing that fit, and walked away with our money unspent, and our bodies lacking stylish garments for work or for play.

Then there is the factor of "insult to injury":

Often while we shop, the sales people and random customers accost us, saying such insensitive things like:

Wow, you are REALLY tall! How tall are you? I can't believe how TALL you are! How did you get to be so tall? Oh, look at how Tall that woman is... etc etc etc.

And those are the more tactful comments.

We hear these comments. We are not necessarily deaf.
We are merely tall, not by choice, but by some genetic design for which we were not consulted.

Occasionally we get told how "lucky" we are, because, the petite person says, "We short people always have to have our clothes hemmed up!"

If only it was a simple as that.

If only the "shorty" doing the "pity me" trip would give us "talls" some sympathy when we explain that hemming "down" is not an option for us. The concept of not being able to make a cuff longer just seems eludes them.

Maybe they just have petite brainpower as well?

To soften the pain after these experiences, we sometimes (but not often) lower ourselves, and likewise loose our manners. We walk around petite sections of stores with our platinum cards held aloft, while saying:

"What happened to all these little tiny people? Did they not eat right as children? Or was it a birth defect? Gosh, look at how runty they are! Look how shrimpy that one is! If you don't mind me asking, how short ARE you? I've never seen anyone a short as you before...".

And we ask the sales person, loudly: "Where is the area for normal sized people like me? The Missy section appears to be cut undersized. Such and such designer must be trying to cut corners and make his/her line cheaper. They just don't fit!"

We are constantly explaining to sales persons: Are you aware that being tall is not just a matter of having an outfit made longer? Our shoulders are wider, our torsos are longer, and our arms and busts sit higher on our body.

This means that a regular size 12 full length formal straight gown will become tea length on us, the "walking slit" in the back will open to display our lower buttocks, and the princess seam in front goes IN at the bust line and OUT just above it!

Which is why my 6 ft. tall then size 8 daughter COULD NOT enjoy the experience of trying on prom dresses. Strapless gowns had waists that fitted around her ribs!

And why shopping for a wedding gown began with "will this designer work with me, for a torso needing to be 4 inches longer than standard?"

Unbelievably, most designers will not make that option available for all styles of bridal gowns.
Even if the gown is "custom" ordered, at a sizable additional cost.

(I am resisting the temptation to write entirely in screaming capital letters!)

Please, please, please Joy and Mary. Do an article on how so many of us live in "fashion land". Take a 6 ft tall, long torso businesswoman, or nurse, or teacher out on a shopping trip to buy:

Slacks (One store actually does carry longer torso, longer length pants. See if you can discover which one!)
Swim wear (L L Bean and Lands End carry longer torso in their catalog)
Long sleeve blouse ( JC Penny Tall catalogue provides basics)
Formal gown
Business suit with skirt

Find out which "Famous Name" designer stores have a few Tall sizes in catalogs. You just need to pay the shipping, both ways if it doesn't suit!

Now I do realize that it is slightly cheaper to make petite clothes. An inch less here, and inch less there really adds up. So designers must profit from that.

BUT...the plus size, or woman's clothing usually are the same price or just slightly higher (a buck or two at most...) as typical missy sized items, so I really can not buy the argument that tall sizes are just too expensive to produce. A tall size 12 surely takes less fabric than a size 24!

Well Joy and Mary, thank you for reading my rant. I hope you are able to share the pain that we tall people feel, and understand where I am coming from. I can't wait to see what you do in your column about shopping and fashion for us tall or model sized gals!

(Whew. I know my petite friends are cheering me on, right? I know it really is difficult to get clothes to fit when you are petite, and I feel your pain as well!)

Note added June 26th: Joy Sewing DID respond, as follows:

I appreciate your comments. My mother is 5’ 10” and has much difficulty finding clothes, especially pants, that fit. (I am just 5’5”.) I listen to her ranting all the time. I would like to do a piece in the future on styles for tall women and women with large feet. I really do understand. Thanks again.

Joy Sewing, Fashion Writer/Columnist
Houston Chronicle
801 Texas Avenue,
Houston, TX 77002
713-362-7371 office

June 8th 2006: Millinery: Inga

Inga is an interesting hat. My millinery guru Kate Pernia (see her blog at: created this hat design, using an asymetic shallow bowl she found at Ikea.

The hat itself is made from sinamay, and features black netting with dots, and a white mother of pearl buckle in the back. It is held on the head with a strap made of sinamay, which encircles the full part of the back of the head.

I took a class from Kate to learn how to make this hat, and it was really fun. First we wet the sinamay in water that had plain gelatin mixed into it, to give the sinamay some sizing.

Then we covered the glass bowls in saran wrap, stretched the sinamay on the bowl and held the sinamay in place with clothes pins.

After it dried, we trimmed the excesss, and folded the edge over velvet tubing that had been internally wired. We stitched the "hem" edging close. Made a bias band for a head strap, and stitched that on the inside. Probably the most tricky part, to get the band just right for fit and tip of the hat.

You can see that it is a rather sheer hat, nice and light weight for Houston's heat. It just sits on the top of the head, so your hair doesn't even get messed up!

I have made four versions of this hat: This one shown, a similar one in off white, a straw colored one with a flower over the left eye, and a wild buckram framed one, covered in black suiting and with a rakish vintage orange feather. The feather is from the 1920's. That was a time period when using black and orange together did not suggest Halloween!

I am pictured at Ovations, on my way to attend Chicks on Tour, a women's comedy group. The theater had cabaret seating, and this was a perfect outfit for the evening. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

June 7th, 2006: First Harvest

Yesterday at 8 AM all of my little tomatoes were still green. At 1 PM, lo and behold, one had turned red! Good job, little tomato!

I imagine I will celebrate the first four or five that I harvest, and after that will gather them as they come along, without much further ado.

Funny how that works. Like how a first child's first everything is noted, and subsequent children have just general notice taken. Like the day they first walked or cut a tooth. I remember exactly when my first born Laura first sat alone, crawled and talked. As to second born Jeff, all I can say is he did sit up alone, crawled and began to talk, all well within the frame work of normal developmental milestone timetables.

The paper today has a full section on growing tomatoes in Houston. The news isn't good. Tomato season is limited to from between late May and mid-June, due to heat factors which limit pollination. Stink bugs here have super powers for crop destruction. My poor little volunteer tomato...clearly it grew from a seed on the lam. Thought it could sneak itself into an atypical garden of bonsai and japanese maples, there by eluding the dreaded Houston Tomato Bogie Bugs.

I'm going to relish each and every tomato. I might not remember each of them personally, but collectively, they will be memorialized. Maybe that is why I have only two kids. I just don't have the "Parent Power" needed to rejoice and recall events related to more than two.

And to think that there is one Father who actually is able to keep track of every tear, every hair that falls, and plans and knows, and remembers, each and every day of each of His children's lives. Amazing! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hart, the kid

Hart is another replacement cat. Our Mac, The Very Best Cat Ever, had died unexpectedly of bone cancer. We were crushed, and wanted a cat who would look a bit like him.

This little gray guy was at the shelter, and he so actively related, rubbing and purring, and running back to me when taken from his cage, that I hoped he would have not only Mac's colors but also Mac's strong relation oriented personality.

Hart was brought home the same day that I received word that my heart was just fine. Great news, as I had undergone multiple tests to determine why I have such a slow heart beat (usually 48 bpm, same as President GWB by the way, but he works out hard and I don't).

Hart is very "kid" like-he is always up for play, very active, a pest at times, curious, and generally aware that he is not the alpha cat. Tiggie holds that position, and he defends his title when challenged.

Hart is thought to have some Russian Blue in him, as he has a very busy tail, and that actually is one of the characteristics of the breed that is looked for when judging Russian Blues in a cat shows. Hart's white bib and booties of course disqualify him from any pure bred status.

But we don't care. He's fine, just the way he is. Posted by Picasa


This is Jennyanydots, so named after the poem in "Old Possums' book of Practical Cats", by T. S. Elliot. The musical "Cats" is that book put to music.

Jenny was a flood kitten, found with her family in a cave right after Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston. I got her at the Animal Shelter when she was 8 weeks old. She rolled out of a ball of playing multi-colored sibling kittens, looked into my eyes, and it was a done deal. She was mine.

She was so tiny, and had all the possible colors and patterns that could be found on any cat. "Like she has tidbits of everything" I commented. So she received her nickname. Tidbit. Except now at 16 lbs., she is more like a buffet.

Our vet does not believe in putting cats on a diet (Tidbit purred when she heard that!), but she truly does have eating issues. Perhaps those early scary days during the flood affected her. Who knows. Besides sitting, sleeping, and staring into space, her most favorite activity is eating, and fantasy nursing. On me.

That is, she jumps up on me when I am in bed, slips under the covers, and buries her nose into my ribs. Her eyes roll back in her head, and she closes them, starts up her deep, deep purr and begins to knead, like a baby kitten, rhythmically and for me, painfully, if I don't keep up with claw clipping.

A few minutes later she snaps back to reality, gives me a look like "we will never speak of this to anyone", and hops off the bed, leaving me with a wet cat drooled saturated top.

Evidence, I guess, that we really both are a little nuts! Posted by Picasa

Tiggie, the Orange Cat

Introducing the felines of Jill's World.

Tiggie was a replacement cat. I had always wanted an orange cat, and we got one named Melville Dewey (librarian cat) but he disappeared one day. I was told that he was probably "et by a gator". Because of that comment, I look cautiously down all street drains, in case a gator is lurking, waiting to "et" me too.

Mostly I wanted an orange cat because they look so great with the sun shining on them.

Tiggie has curly fur, so he usually looks raggity. He was a Petsmart adoptee, one of 20 cats owned, and named by one man. Tiggie is a a "cat's cat", and love Bernie to the point of worship, and mourns pitifully when B. goes out the door. Posted by Picasa

June 6, 2006: 75% rich, by some standards, in spite of ear worms.

It is going to be clear and hot today. The cherry tomatoes are now chin height, the fruit abundant but still green, and leaf miners have arrived. They've marred the pristine beauty of some the plant's leaves with squiggly pale paths, evidence of their culinary travels. Now I have a decision to make: Research how to fight them, decide if the fight should be organic, chemical, manual (pluck the marred leaves) or just let things be. Something to mull.

Having something to mull, or ponder, is important to me. Like my poor plant, I am subject to squiggly invaders called "ear worms". I hear a song, or jingle, and it plays over and over and over again in my head, squiggling through my mind, bubbling up in moments of mental repose. Last week it was "Some where (pause, pause) beyond the sea (pause pause) my love's (pause pause) waiting for me...."

This thanks to Carnival cruise line current ad campaigns. Before that is was "I'd love to be cowgirl, but I'm afraid of cows. Moo, moo, moo how they scare me. " (Thanks to Gayle for that one!)

Imagine the troubled looks I have gotten in public places when the ear worm takes full control of my passive mind, and I begin singing aloud. Moo, moo, moo.....

To fight this pesty invader, and to avoid being carted off to the funny farm, I work at gathering ponderable thoughts. A recently gathered ponderable came from our local newspaper columnist Scott Burns. He shared this:

"You know you are rich when more money won't change where you live, what you eat, what you drive, or who you sleep with."

I like what I eat just fine. I'm up two pounds this morning as proof!
And I love sleeping with B. and our three cats. I'd make no changes there. So that locks me into 50% rich.

I also love my 4Runner, mainly because I can shove huge items in the back, and also because it is high enough to get me out of Houston's oh so frequent floods. That fact puts me at 75% rich.

Then it gets complicated. I love where I am living, but I know that if suddenly got a huge amount of cash, I would want to add several zip codes to my residential identity. And I don't love that I don't live near my family, and many of my friends.

So I ponder: If I am only 75% rich, then what is the ONE place that I would want to move to, and never leave, that would make me 100% rich.

Scott Burns published that observation last Friday. Where I would live and never leave was ponder fodder for me for almost five days. Today I finally figured it out. It's north, far north, and actually it has no zip code. Doesn't have days or nights either. Time is different there. I have read that a thousand years is like one day there. And everyone has mansions.

Someday I WILL move there. I've already signed the real estate contract guaranteeing me a space. But in the meantime, I'm plenty happy being just 75% rich.

PS: By the way, ear worms can also be controlled by singing "The Hallelujah Chorus". Outloud. With vigor.
I've tried it and it work!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 4th: Researching 12th Imam

Yesterday, Saturday, I had a lovely day with a Hat Friend. We tried on hats, and bought ribbon to make a hat. Afterwards B. and I headed for Mexican food. Yum. At the restaurant door there was a free magazine. I snagged it, as the cover looked interesting.

I didn't get to read it until Sunday afternoon. B. and I had ridden our bikes over to the community pool, and were lolligagging around, counting ourselves hugely blessed to have such luxury available, and the luxury of time in which to enjoy it.

After a lazy lap or two in the pool I returned to a shady lounger, and started to read the magazine. It really doesn't matter what magazine I was reading...the part that mattered was that I read an explanation of the significance of the 12th Imam.

Oh wow, and whoopsie daisy. To say the least. Now, after a little more research, I get why Iran' nuclear program is such a bugger, and making the news.

The "Summation-In-a-Minute" is:

The President of Iran believes the Muslim Messiah (AKA the 12th Imam) is returning to the world in the next 2-4 years, from a well (really!) in one of the Mosques in Iran, and that it is the Iranian President's duty/destiny to prepare the world for this. President went from a 1% recognition to winning his election, and has poured tons of money into fixing up the Mosque with the well.

But...the big gut grabber is that for #12 to come back and make paradise for all nice Muslim folk, Israel must be gone. In Iran's point of view, USA is the Great Satan that provides the $ that makes Israel's existence possible, so first the USA needs to get knocked out, and then, without USA protection, Israel/Jerusalem can be wiped clean of Jewish folks.

Mr. Iran President is "full speed ahead". Christians speak of the "end times" but they don't have a game plan to MAKE the times come ASAP. This 12th Imam guy will only show up IF the world is knocked into shape. So Mr. Iran President is, in his mind, divinely appointed to do any and everything necessary to set the stage. And has no reason to worry that there *might* be consequences. After all, paradise awaits. Let's get this show on the road!

And Mr. President is not shy about the fact that a nuclear devise would make that all possible, really quick.
And it really, really doesn't matter if the bomb messes up stuff, because all that matters is the #12 gets here, and thereby ushers in paradise.