Friday, October 13, 2006

Brown hat, brown shoes, and chocolate

It is a tad cooler here, and so I wanted to wear my cute little arrow hat. Except the arrow pointed right at my right eye, the one that isn't quite right, right now at least.

This photo doesn't do it justice. At the top of the arrow there is a green glass leaf, like the gold one that is seen in the picture. There are golden bronze beads covering the arrow, and the dot in the middle of the arrow head actually is a moon stone/opal like glass bit. And there are pearls too.

I got the hat on ebay, primarily because I had just been to an exhibit at the Moody Mansion down in Galveston. This was a few years back. The mansion dates back to the late 1800's, and one of the ladies of the Moody family, Mary Moody Northern, wore hats all the time, and studiously journaled all of her outfits and accessories from about 1890 until around 1950.

The Moody Mansion had an exhibit of her hats. What a collection! I was stunned by one of her honeymoon hats, which was a wire frame, covered with ivory chiffon, lace, silk flowers, feathers, and fur! What DIDN'T get used to decorate that hat????

One of her 1920's hats had an arrow on it. A very popular motif for the late 1920's. You might even recall early Nancy Drew illustrations with arrows on the cloches, stockings, and dresses.

Right after that exhibit I spied this little lovely on ebay. I haven't worn it yet, although I have owned it several years. My hair has grown considerably longer since I got it. A few weeks ago I tried it on with my hair pulled back in a bun, and it looked really smart. So I was just waiting for the weather to cool to a reasonable level, felt hat temperature, to run errands with the arrow jauntily adding energy to the effort.

Too bad it didn't work out for today.

Oh well. My major errand was to buy a new pair of brown shoes at SAS, aka The San Antonio Shoe Factory Store. I knew exactly what pair to get: Simplify, size 9 Narrow.
SAS is the darling brand of the geratric set. Bernie's grandmother swore by them, and my friends (I use the term loosely here...) often will point out my shoes and remark that their mother/grandmother/great aunt etc. have shoes JUST LIKE MINE!

I say: Age + wisdom= Comfortable shoes.

Yes, I realize that is just another way of saying sensible shoes. OK, so I'm sensible. I can live with that.

I already own this style in white, bone, and black. I have a black clog style pair, as well as a pair of black tassel loafer. So you can tell that I really needed brown, right?

Actually, they didn't come in brown. This is actually Antique Wine. But they look brown to me!

I LOVE this shoe style.

They look good with pants and skirts.

They have arch support.

They are HAND sewn, one by one, in San Antonio Texas, and the leather goes under the sole in one piece, so comfortable!

Best of all...they FIT me! My narrow heels have been so trying. Most narrow shoes (when I can get find shoes in a narrow size these days, and in my size nine to boot) are too tight across the front of the foot. I usually am getting a callus on my baby toe and walking out of the heel. Clumsy me, well, you try walking in shoes that are too big!

Shopping at SAS is an old fashioned delight.

When you walk in, you are greeted, and offered a cup of coffee.

They offer to measure your feet with the old fashioned metal foot sizer, while you are seated in a Craftsman style oak rocking chair.

They slip on a "footie" for you, one that covers your whole foot, before they measure you.

They bring the shoe to you, and gently shoe horn your foot into the shoe.

They explain shoe care, how to use shoe creme, and boar bristle brushes, and cedar sock fillers after you take them off.

Best of all, after they ring you up, they give you a small box with two of the most delicious chocolates you could ever want to taste, one chocolate wrapped in silver, and the other in gold.

Shoes that fit, and sweets to eat.

Maybe the SAS really stands for Shoes and Sweets!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pilati, Paris, and me.

It's Fashion Week in Paris!

Happy am I to get daily updates via our local newspaper, to be read at my leisure in the comfort of my own home.

I'm just not interested in hustling over to France, and scrambling about to find a seat in a tent among the Rich and Fashionable.

Even though I have lost eight pounds, I know would still look unfashionably whalish among those Social X-ray, as the anorexic fashion slaves are called.

Anyway, I have reason to believe that it will not be long until the Fashion Forward will be making a pilgrimage to Texas.

"Why?" you may ask, incredulously.

Let me explain.

Witness, if you please, this delightful outfit created by none other than Stefano Pilati, and inspired by no less than YSL.

Now I just LOVE everything about this combination: The high neckline and full sleeves. So perfect for covering my personal age related trouble spots.

I love the coral red. I love the bi-level skirt, sweetly longer in the back to cover any thigh issues....

I love the cute open toe shoes, and yes, I even love those fish net stockings. It brings back such fond memories of my Junior High School years, and the late 1960's.

But most of all I love the hat.

Now Piati is only about five years behind my own personal millinery fashion forwardness.

Behold my version of Piati's "johnny-come-lately" design.

This was my first felt blocked hat, created while I was in millinery school, in the spring of 2001.

It is made in navy blue, and is a very heavy felt.

I have had the band trim (a navy satin bias drape, with navy velvet flower accents) ready for about a year, but just haven't got around to finishing up that "WIP", aka "work in process".

Now I think I won't bother doing the band trim at all.

I'd much rather concentrate on whipping up a copy of Pilati's design. Only I'll make mine in navy. I've been told the legs are the last to go, so I'll hem my version just a tad longer than his.

And I'll wear my navy version with RED fish nets!

Posted by Picasa

Personal note to Stefano:

Darling, feel free to give me a call anytime you feel you need further millinery inspiration.

I'm here to help.

xxx & oooo


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A storm, three cats, and a bird

Yesterday's "It started to rain" actually was this storm. Hart's whiskers really knew what they were talking about.

We live in Kingwood so you can see what was about to happen... a good gullywasher as they say around here.

There were tornados later in other parts of Houston, but we just got some nice strong breezes.

Since it was really muggy and warm inside, and the storm front was cooler, I decided to cheat the utility company out of air conditioner kilowatt fees. I mean really, air conditioning in October? Enough already!

I opened all our doors and windows and let the cool breezes through, and enjoyed listening to the rain and thunder.
A few hours later I had shut the doors and windows again, and got busy cutting out that dress.

Out of the corner of my one open eye I saw Hart leap about four feet into the air after a dark object.

I put down my scissors and went to investigate.

All three cats were in a circle around this
A Carolina Wren had flow inside some time during the storm!

I started to yell at the cats to get away, while trying to think how I could catch this bird, which was just sitting there looking at me like this was all my fault.

I grabbed a pot (should have grabbed the bird, but was squeamish) and kept yelling at the cats to stay away. As I bent over to put the bird under the pot, the wren flew up at me, just nipping past my ear.


Such a bad idea. Bell's Palsy also affects your hearing. Everything I say sounds like it has been spoken to me through a microphone, slightly amplified.
Screaming sounded like I was screaming into my own ear.

Well, that rattled me but good.

The bird had flown up to the watering can and greenery (fake) above the cabinets in my kitchen. Still giving me this "I am so sick of all of you" look, he/she was now perched in the greenery, and holding perfectly still.

I decided I needed help. Catching a bird using just one eye was unlikely. My brain was clearly pretty wonky too, because I idiotically went to change out of a wrinkly cotton dress and into a clean tee and skirt before heading next door to ask the neighbor's for help.

(Let me also admit here that locking the cats up would have been a far more sensible use of my time. And that our late 20 something neighbors are the tee shirt and jeans type anyway.)

Andrew was out of town, but Barbara and one year old Joseph were available. And, Praise the LORD, they have a koi pond which means they have a fine fish net!

Baby Andrew riding on his mom's hip, and me pushing a stroller to contain said baby once the bird catching commenced, we trooped back into my house. The bird was still with the watering can.

But as soon as we took a closer look, he/she flew the coop (sorry, couldn't resist) and sailed off into the living room towards the mantle. And immediately disappeared.

Now the cats were still circling, and I did try to grab Tiggie. He doesn't do grab. OR catch, or even pick up without putting up a valiant fight.

I tried to herd him into our sun room, but even that was flop. At least he didn't draw my blood this time. He prides himself on drawing blood when challenged.

Barbara kept looking for the bird. I stared long and hard at the mantel, and finally spotted the bird nestled in the little pot with the gold balls surrounded by angels. Praying, no doubt, for this hell to end....

I pointed to the clay pot and Barbara took a closer look, and said she didn't see the bird. I pointed it our again. The bird didn't look real. So still, it looked like an artfully designed Christmas ornament.

While we were trying to figure how to snare it from the pot, the wren flew again, into one of the window panes, and landed on the carpet. All three cats were there in a shot...I was shoving slavering cats on three fronts while Barbara brought down the net on wren.

I slid opened the window, the net was thrust out, and the bird was released back into the semi wilds of my garden.


Now a bit about Carolina Wrens: They are quick little birds with bodies about the size of a chicken egg and a perky little bar striped tail that sticks up almost at a 90 degree angle from its body.

And they are loud for being such little birds. Their call is unmistakable, as they shrill "Teakettle, teakettle, teakettle!" in such an urgent voice that to have one sound off from a perch as you go by leaves you with a ringing in your ear. The link to the bird picture includes a clip of the bird song. I hope your computer will let you listen!

I just love Carolina Wrens.

I included a shot of the candle where the bird hid, as it is inscribed with words from the story "Beauty and the Beast". Irony there, don't you think?
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Roses, some cats, cherries and rain.

I worked at the library last night. When I went into my office, that is, the office that the adjunct librarians all share, (we with adversions to 40 hour work weeks), I found this rose in a glass vase and a get well card from Carolyn, one of the full time librarians who is so very kind, and helpful, and has a great sense of humor. She has in the past cheered me up in ways she would never imagine. Performing her duties, she is a bench mark of laser perfection in the profession.
Her graciousness was futher demonstrated by the fact that the "Get well" wish was said to be from "all of us" (which I am sure is true....) even though it was she who thought to have the card and the beautiful flower too.

I love coral colors... something she couldn't have known.

It does drain me a bit being in a public setting answer questions with an eye taped shut, drooping mouth and slurred speech.

So having this rose with me on the desk last night was a real "awwww....." deal.

Today, Tuesday it is, Hart was staring at me from the window and mouthing his most whisker rattling meows.

I snapped the picture, and opened the window for him.

He shot inside, zipping past me to the center of the house.

Cats. Who knows what goes on in their little brains?
Tidbit, on the other hand, was her usual low energy self.

Clearly in need of a restorative cup of catnip tea?

I stepped into the garden and took a quick picture of the death defying volunteer cherry tomatoes.

Last June there was a newspaper article about growing tomatoes in Houston, and how they would never produce later than early July.

This bush thought differently about that, and is continuing to put forth two or three or four tomatoes a day.

Just the right amount for a salad ingredient or a quick snack.

As I took the picture it began to rain.

So that's what got Hart all stirred up! It was going to rain, and his weather whiskers sent out a cattish weather warning:

"Alert: All Cats: Get your tail inside, NOW!"

Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday: Odds and ends

I miss blogging regularly. So I'm going to try to get back into the groove, even if it means just writing about the mundane. Or just posting pictures of the mundane.

Like this one, of my breakfast.

Pictured: A nice hot oat bran cereal, the kind I got hooked on in Scotland, and finally found here as Red Mill brand.

I'm currently indulging in red pears. I think they are just extraordinarily beautiful. And they work well in our household: Bernie will only eat them if they are crisp, and I only like them when they are juicy ripe. A marital harmony feature that I imagine is rarely considered during the courtship process.

And coffee with sugar free french vanilla creamer in my Oregon State University mug (Go Beavers!) I usually have perfectly matched dishes and a place mat, but this morning, well, I have just let myself go.

As a means of recapping, I spent Saturday night in a fit of determination: I wanted to get that 5 inch wide mauve satin head band on the mauve straw hat. Using just one eye, I worked about three hours, trying a pleat at three points, adding beads on the pleats, ruching the ribbon, talking nice to the ribbon, speaking sharply to the ribbon...and at last the ribbon went ahead and warped in three places, each about the size of a pencil eraser. So bang goes twenty dollars worth of ribbon.

I now am raising my right hand and solemnly swearing I will never again attempt to use a ribbon for a headband. Or at least until I can go to France and study under some professional millinery expert who adds satin ribbons to all bonnets, using only one eye, regularly.

I will purchase some silk organdy and do a bias band as soon as I am up to making a run down town.
You may be wondering how I am faring otherwise with Bell's Palsy "jacking up my face" as daughter Laura RN put it.

Well, take a peek. This is as good as it gets. I'm holding my face completely expressionless. The slightest of smiles makes the whole thing degenerate into "stampede the horses and make all the dogs growl" awful.

I do like having my brow wrinkle gone.

Sunday afternoon I was coaxed out of my recluse mode by my friend Millie, who offered a good catch up, new grand baby pictures, and tea. How I wished I had thought to bring my camera!

I just hope my words will paint a good enough picture so that you can imagine what I saw:

Millie lives in a beautiful two story home, with two story windows across the back of the living area. The walls are cream, and all the accents are delft ware and dutch blue upholstery. That is fitting, as her husband is of Dutch descent, and still has family in Holland. Their blue point Siamese boy kitty Sam lounges in any place that needs an additional touch of perfection. Sam is a big cat, not the least bit fat, but with shoulders like a rugby player. He probably weighs about 16 pounds.

Millie has already gotten her autumn decorations up (I'm still in sea shell and sandcastle mode around here, I'll post my decorating later when the weather changes, supposedly this coming Thursday) and there were pumpkins and squashes and lovely fall floral arrangements around.

Ice tea was ready, as it was still in the very high 80's, and she had a three tiered hostess tray with butter cookies trimmed with orange and brown jimmies in the first tier, brownies in the second tier, and raisin cookies on the third.

Another tray held green apples slices and brie cheese. Still another tray had circle cut cucumber sandwiches (without the cucumbers, a joke as the cuke had gone soft, and as it turns out her husband actually isn't fond of cucumbers anyway, so we now have a new husband pleasing recipe: cucumber sandwiches sans cucumbers.

Each of us had a ceramic plate shaped three dimensionally as a leaf. Mine was butternut colored, and hers was a brighter orange.

Napkins were orange with small black dots.

How lovely....and today is her birthday. Her husband spilled the beans by showing her the new bird house he was installing in her honor. Also, for the record, her new first grandchild Victoria is beautiful, with a mischievous smile at three months that reminds me of Scarlett O'hara at her flirting best. Victoria should have no problem living up to her name, she already rules her world with just a smile and a bat of her baby blue eyes.

For all you Tiggie fans: He was in his own recluse mode.

Jungle kitty.

Wish there was room in there for me too! Posted by Picasa