Fashion guru

Glove manufactures must be giddy about now: revamping closed factories and hiring right and left; while fashion designers and knockoff boutiques flounder in a frenzy of reorganization.

All because Melania Trump wowed us with Ralph Lauren’s heavenly blue cashmere creation and elegant suede gloves.

I hope this means the jacket dress is back, and the skirted suit, as well. Perhaps now, long-legged cable “journalists” will go on a shopping spree, forsaking cleavage for more professional garb. Doubtful though, as each is a Lorelei, luring male viewers. And someone please tell those flawlessly coiffed and beautifully made-up young women the proper way to sit. Criss-cross at the ankles, not at the knees. But then again, it’s all about exposure

Women needn’t wonder why we’re taken less seriously than men. Guys have it all over us with the ubiquitous suit and tie; not to mention a sensible closed shoe. Who’s going to believe a male newscaster wearing sandals and tank top, well-built or not.

I rest my case.


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Morning entertainment

Many mornings at the breakfast table we watch a lizard through the large slider window. This window is six feet by five feet and provides a generous view of our plant-filled back yard; but we focus on the inquisitive lizard, dubbed Jake.

Jake clings to the window’s outer trim, fervently returning our stares, or to the upper frame of a retired chaise set adjacent to the window. This chaise has seen better days and now hosts several herbs, scads of seedlings and one mysterious vine. It’s also where the lizard preens of an early morning, periodically inflating his pink-hued throat. Google tells me Jake is a green male anole. The flaring throat can mean he perceives danger or is in the courting mood. Jake may also feel the need to defend his territory or is simply enjoying a bit of male boastfulness. However, I’ve seen Jake in hot pursuit of another lizard, so I bet romance is on his mind.

Our diminutive creature enjoys an up-side-down view of the world, moving atop the slender frame of the chaise from horizontal to upright to inverted. Like a performer in Cirque Du Soliel, its movements are fluid and deliberate.  It winds about the metal frame like tendrils of that delicate vine.  Jake’s performance is soothing and we hope his show has a long run.

It sets the mood for an unhurried day.


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Cloud Cover

During Houston’s dog days of summer, we’ve an excess of warm (read scorching) air at ground level. And when warm air rises, it carries water vapor.  Should southwestern air, soft-spoken and laid back, encounter cold and sometimes rude Yankee air, water vapor is chilled. Condensation occurs and voila – cumulus clouds are born.

With due respect to grade school science, I’ve a different notion of those billowing white clouds. Envision, if you will, novice angels, newly departed souls, watching from within that ethereal fluff.   Each keeps a careful eye on the recently bereaved – sending a cool breeze, the newly-opened rose, tiny sparrows, the prolonged green traffic light. Happiness.

We survivors, meanwhile, lack focus. Distracted by ongoing sorrow, we misplace car keys and cell phones and grocery lists. We’ve forgotten the deceased is blissful, finally free of earthly woes, and eager to guide us through our piercing pain.

As our loved ones gaze from above, we find the absent car key and Smartphone; recall the needed grocery items; feel alert. And then, with help from more seasoned angles, clouds part and shafts of sunlight angle toward earth. Think: Variation of Michelangelo’s “Finger of God.”  Surprisingly, our mood quickens and comforting thoughts of the deceased tiptoe in.

Once our mood brightens, the trainee angels move on, leaving room for more recently departed souls. These new cherubs are equally joyful, sans human trials, and waste no time in soothing their respective mourners. And so it goes.

The blue sky dotted with billowing cumulus clouds is uplifting. Streaming sunlight, sent from a precious departed soul, is breathtaking.

Think about it.




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The crisp autumn leaf jiggled above my head, suspended from a fragmented spider’s web. Antsy, it twirled left and right, like a toddler kept in tow by dutiful parents. Between gentle gusts, the leaf hung motionless, a tired two-year-old gathering her second burst of energy. I tried to photograph that moment of stillness, but wind captured the bit of foliage and it danced away on invisible strands.

For several days, I watched its antics through the kitchen window. And waited. Each time I rushed to click the camera my delicate dancer twirled from side to side and upward and as far as the tether allowed – an adolescent testing her self-reliance, but still oh-so dependent.

On the third day, my leaf vanished! I miss its bravado, its reluctance to pose, its pirouette. This fragile bit of fall lingered for several days, then, like all children, broke free of parental hold and struck out on its own.


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Shades of Kafka

An uncommonly ugly beetle clings to the outside of the window screen in our TV room. I’ve watched for days as it creeps upward and discovered this morning it had reached the halfway mark. This insect conjures thoughts of Gregor in Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” that complex tale of failed family relationships, poor self-esteem and exaggerated self-sacrifice. At the book’s onset, Gregor wakes from “unsettling dreams” and finds himself “changed into a monstrous vermin.” My notion of vermin is in the rodent category, though Kafka’s description of Gregor is that of giant insect.

My Gregor may be related to Kafka’s, but I doubt his life is similarly dysfunctional. Neither is he as large as Kakfa’s fellow, being an inch and a half in length and the color of drab tree bark. No doubt he’s invisible when frolicking in the forest, not so while clinging to our front window screen. At any time an eagle-eyed bird might snap him up. Gregor’s right hind leg has been injured, perhaps an on-the-job accident. I suspect he aimlessly climbs to fill idle time while collecting worker’s comp. As in Kafka’s story, no family members give a hoot.

Three days later . . .
My Gregor has given up the ghost. One set of legs curls upward in prayer-like posture. He dangles horizontally from the window screen, no last attempt to reach further heights, and looks at peace. I shall sweep him from his precarious perch and into a leafy flower bed below. There he will rest, hidden from avian attack, comfortable in natural surroundings and his spirit well-entrenched on the other side.

Though my Gregor’s passing lacks Kafkaesque intensity, I shall miss the valiant beetle. At the very least, workman’s comp has one less claim to process.

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Backyard tenacity

The marauding squirrel is daring to the extreme. One bushy tailed gal, full of curiosity and bravado, invaded our bird feeder after many futile attempts. The feeder is an open, pink-hued glass plate and hangs from a ten inch chain recessed beneath the roof’s eaves. The pesky intruder sneaks from above and stretches her elastic-like body over protruding gutter. With adrenaline flowing, she reaches the chain and drops into the dish. There she sits, proud and smug, enjoying the spoils of war.

Though I’ve set saucers of bird seed at the base of several trees, this squirrel prefers doing things the hard way – an unfortunate habit gleaned from human association.

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Soul Mates

I watched as the stout old man struggled from the passenger seat of his nondescript car. The driver, a large woman, moved at a snail’s pace behind him and leaned heavily upon a used-up walker. Ever the gentleman, he held the restaurant door for his lady.  Each shuffled through the crowded entrance and waited in the self-serve line.

The woman made her choices, then eased into a spindly chair. Her thighs spilled over the seat like an overflowing basin.  She wore a loose-fitting faded blouse and shabby cropped pants; her gray hair tumbled in a slack French braid down her back. She waited as her gentleman brought more food.

He arranged the extra plate, bowed slightly and tipped a weathered hat to his lady. As she extended her hand, he drew it to his lips and kissed the fingertips.

I watched in fascination, dubbing the couple Lady Guinevere and Sir Lancelot

Guinevere’s gallant knight sported baggy cotton shorts, an ancient Hawaiian shirt and sagging suspenders. A graying pony tail remembered his forgotten youth and a guitar pick ear ring dangled from his right ear lobe. The hat bore an array of forgotten fishing lures.

Throughout this mundane meal, in an equally mundane setting, Lady Guinevere’s hand rested upon Sir Lancelot’s knee – a touching scene with unlikely players.

Perhaps in another life this couple had been of royal blood, accustomed to rambling castles, golden goblets and regal processions. In this life, under strained circumstances, they retained such stature.

How fortunate to find one’s soul mate the second time around. We should all be so lucky.






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What’s old is new again

Spring rains have revived our reluctant-to-spread ground cover and the back yard may soon become a seamless carpet of this prolific plant. Bits of fall leaves beneath the ground cover give the area a woodsy feel, while several potted aloe vera sport delicate blooms atop long, slender stalks. Likewise, the Lily of the Nile struts its stuff and groups of potted plants draw the eye with surprising pops of color.

When my children were young, this yard took a pounding from years of constant play – not surprising that grass refuses to flourish. Now recovered from such abuse, the area provides a lush green escape – though I suspect the outdoor spirits miss the creativity of youngsters, as do I.

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Now you see it, now you don’t

Decades ago, children made invisible ink from lemon juice and drops of water. Using the finger tip as a pen, secret messages were written on scrap paper. Once the paper dried, excited kids held it to the light and words magically appeared.

So it is with a garden slug’s glitzy loops and lines. As sunlight hits the humdrum patio, criss-crossed designs sparkle. How I’d love to decipher the hidden message. A note to ET? An apology for ruining my hostas? Perhaps it’s free draw for creative offspring?

For whatever reason, I enjoy this glistening garden art and have forgiven the soft-bodied creatures for past garden damage.


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A leisurely morning, some construction required

A leisurely morning – some construction required

In lieu of the pricey day spa, I’ve created a more frugal experience.  I snip a plump leaf from my potted aloe plant and slice it open.  With some effort, I scrape the slippery healing gel into a small bowl, add a dab of honey and stir. Caution: Smearing this potion over face and neck is challenging.

Once the aloe mixture is applied, I prepare a cornmeal foot wash. This allegedly insures pink healthy toe nails. My lip plumper, made from 100 per cent beeswax and virgin coconut oil, has been concocted in advance.

While these mixtures beautify, I work the crossword puzzle, sip coffee and wait. Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal arrive, obviously devoted; squirrels are antsy; doves ever-present; wrens and robins scattered. Then two new visitors, small and exquisitely blue, perch atop the bird feeder. Thanks to Gary Clark, I learn these are Indigo Buntings, mere passersby. But their color is glorious and I hope they visit again.

My morning of leisure is a just reward for thorough preparation. The Indigo Buntings are a surprise bonus.


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