daily prompt challenge: the clothes (may) make the (wo)man

Clothes horses

I must admit to having been a “clothes horse” during my college years. Since I was on a couple of small scholarships and had to fund the rest of my tuition by working at the university bookstore, I had pittance left over for a wardrobe. Somehow I managed, although exactly how, I can’t remember. After all…that was over 4 decades ago.

When I got married, soon after graduating, I dabbled a bit in sewing my own clothes. I confess I was more of a seamstress in middle school and high school. I’d learned to sew while I was in elementary school, carrying my prized, portable sewing machine to and from the home of my Japanese teacher.

As a married lady with a heftier income, a combination of mine and my hubby’s, I began shopping for clothes at Liberty House. No longer around, it use to be THE place to purchase the latest fashions. Needless to say, they were pricey.

Liberty House and JM San Jose

But hey! We have to look fabulous to keep our men, don’t we? Or is it that we have to outshine our peers? Or is it a reflection of our insecurities about ourselves? Or perhaps it’s a combination of all three. Will we ever know for sure?

Does it really matter…in the grand scheme of things?

Throughout my career outside the home, I obsessed over clothes. I’m sure I was no different than most working women. Although I might have gone overboard because I’d grown up using hand-me-downs, and rejects from the orphanage where my mom worked. Not an excuse, mind you, just an explanation for my laser-like focus on buying new things to wear.

Gaining weight can be a deterrent to buying clothes, or it can be the impetus to go out and buy clothes that fit…until we can squeeze back into our smaller-sized duds once again. Been there; done that. Now in my 60s…I’ve donated most of what use to fit to Good Will.

English: Photo of Chico's in Hudson, Ohio

Chico’s has my patronage now that I fit into a size 2…1 1/2…and 1, depending on the piece. Did I forget to mention that Chico’s is very astute at marketing to more mature women. In other words, they’ve tricked us chubbier women into thinking we’re really smaller than the rest of the world thinks we are. The retailer has taken the standard sizes…4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18…and morphed them into 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3. Pretty clever, huh? And women like me fell for the scam…hook, line, and sinker.

But you know what? Chico’s nudged me out of my comfort zone with blacks, browns, greys, and blues…catapulting me into all the colors of the rainbow, and some. 

I didn’t only eat sherbert, I was wearing sherbert…colors.

As I’ve aged, I’ve toned my choices down a tad. No more teals and tangerines for me. However I have picked up some bling. I’m not over-the-top with it, just enough to turn a few heads, whether in admiration…or shock. Oh, well…

…vanity…thy name is (wo)man…

………hugmamma.

(p.s….did i mention i’m to blame for my daughter’s now being a “clothes horse?”…and needing more closet space?)

...dressing to the 9's...once-in-awhile is ok...

…dressing to the 9’s…once-in-awhile is ok…

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the whole truth…and nothing but…

Photographs can sometimes lie. Or at the very least…they don’t always tell the whole truth.

Having secured a number of rentals over the last several years, whether for family vacations or for our daughter’s use while working, we’ve come to realize that photos don’t necessarily represent the total picture. 

Take for example the 1 bedroom condo we rented on Waikiki Beach last year when we returned to Honolulu for my mother-in-law’s funeral. 

The unit photographed beautifully, including the balcony with 2 chairs. IMG_4457What the photo did NOT capture, was the fact that we’d be sitting with our knees touching the rail. That’s if we could even squeeze our way onto the narrow balcony. What the picture also didn’t show was the view of the enormous parking lot surrounded by wall-to-wall high-rises. I’ll give the owner credit though for correctly identifying the peek-a-boo mountain view.IMG_4456

Then there was the rental my daughter and I recently occupied in San Fransisco‘s Mission District. It looked like a charming enough studio. There was a queen-sized bed towards the back of what seemed a somewhat spacious living area with a couch and television. I liked that one could watch TV while facing the balcony and the Zen-like garden beyond. Unfortunately any thought I might have had of spending time outside, disappeared upon arrival.

The area was a mess. A year’s worth of leaves had accumulated. Spider webs had taken hold. Plants were dying. Chairs were in disrepair. It was obvious that outdoor maintenance wasn’t a priority. Thank goodness a regular service handled the indoor cleaning. Or I’d have been out of there in a hot San Francisco minute.

Two other factors about the apartment were a little more disconcerting. One was that it shared a common wall with the owners’ garage. I sometimes wondered if we’d wake up under a car if one of the drivers stepped on the gas instead of the brake. The second was one of hygiene. The bath towels felt as though we were wiping ourselves with chenille bedspreads. You know, the kind grandma used on her beds. They were so thin. And sometimes we’d find strands of hair embedded in the dark fibers of the brown towels. Yuck! Yuck! And yuck!

I was reminded of these experiences after helping our daughter settle into her current digs this past weekend. She’s in Houston rehearsing the female dance lead in The Grand Opera‘s AIDA.

The best I can say about the apartment is that it’s spacious. It had been a detached garage in a former life. Now it’s a bungalow…living and bathroom/bedroom separated by a narrow breezeway-turned kitchen. Funky is the best way to describe the decor. I expected that from the online photos. What I didn’t expect was almost nonexistent lighting and dirt beneath the surface…not dust, but grease and grime.

My spirits nose-dived when we walked into the dimly lit living room. I could barely see the furnishings once we’d switched on the 2 over-sized, recessed ceiling lights. And it was only 6:30 in the evening! Some natural light shone from the kitchen windows, but not enough to make a difference. In fact, the overhead track lighting in the kitchen wasn’t the best light to prep and cook in either. The bathroom light was better, albeit haphazardly assembled. The light bulbs above the medicine cabinet were mismatched or missing, and only one of the mismatched lights that were part of the ceiling fan worked.

The bedroom lighting was a disaster.IMG_5094Light from an old-fashioned desk lamp shone like a spotlight on the wall next to the bed. With dark wood flooring and black bed covers, it was difficult to find comfort in that dingy room as well. The closet was an alcove to the left of the bed. There were enough shelves and hanging space for sure, and at least the ceiling bulb with pull string shone a good deal of light.IMG_5093 Fortunately there was an overhead light with ceiling fan in the bedroom, which lit up the space.

Family and close friends know I’m never deterred by less than desirable accommodations. I’m always up to the challenge of making things work, and I was determined to instill happiness in this apartment with a few dollars, and a whole lot of elbow grease and creativity.

Imagination is my middle name. Growing up poor in the good, old days meant having to dream up much of what I needed…whether it be play things or just pretty things. And at a very young age, I also learned the art of decorating. 

Charged with the task of cleaning and straightening our small upstairs rental each Saturday, I became extremely proficient at arranging and rearranging our thrift shop furniture. I took pride in making worn out furnishings look good. Over the years, first as a college student and then as a wife and mother, I have honed my talent such that I could do it in my sleep. Which, in fact, I often do…imagining how I would make over a room so that when day break arrives, I can “hit the ground running.” It also helps that my passion for hand-me-downs, in the form of antiques and vintage items, has only grown throughout the years. I’m now surrounded by what feels like…very dear, very old…friends.

So while our daughter followed her heart to the dance studio, her dad and I did a little sprucing up around the apartment.

Rolling up our sleeves, I scrubbed surfaces that looked like they’d not seen a sponge and disinfectant for some time, while hubby worked his magic on the laminate floors with a Swiffer mop. He went through half a box of replacement sheets, before we felt we could walk around the place with bare feet.

IMG_5047

…air mattress in living room for company…$1 pumpkin with gift tissue for hair…cheap place mats for dining…standing lamp brightens up a once dark room…colorful throws bought on sale, add cheer and coziness…

Once we sanitized the place, I proceeded to give it a face lift with bargains gleaned from a nearby TARGET. Thank God for TARGET! In no time the apartment looked more upbeat, cheerful, and cozy. The transformation brightened not only the apartment, but our spirits as well. 

With a little imagination such items as greeting cards, gift bags, colorful throws, bargain bowls, bag clips, rag rugs and towels, can turn any eye-sore into a warm and inviting space. Add to that a fresh set of linens complete with pillowcases, shams, sheets and comforter for $40, and a set of 2 table lamps and one standing lamp for $49…and our daughter was home…at last.

Returning home to the comfort of cozy surroundings has always been a priority in my life. It’s been a haven wherein my family and I can rest, recuperate, and re-energize for the next day’s adventures. And regardless of where my daughter’s career has taken her, I’ve always wanted the same for her…a home reminiscent of the one in which she’s grown up.

Memories are made no matter where we are…

IMG_5082

…child’s bed linen set at 30% off amps up this once spiritless bedroom…gift bags as wall art for under $5…bedside table lamp sets the right tone for winding down…

………hugmamma.

IMG_5065

…charming halloween cards and a pumpkin welcome our daughter home…and invites visitors to join her for conversation and comfort…

IMG_5054

…bowls add color while offering function…as do the magnet/hooks…

IMG_5136

happy daughter…happy, happy, happy…hugmamma…

stepping outside…

…my comfort zone.

Fred Astaire and a chorus of Fred Astaires per...

Fred Astaire and a chorus of Fred Astaires performing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in Blue Skies (1946) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems in 2013 I’m steppin’ out and…”puttin’ on the ritz.” Since top hat and coat tails won’t ward off the chill, I’m doing it in…wool hat, scarf and mittens.

My mantra for the New Year? “Go big or go home!”

And so yesterday…

I drove 45 minutes to the next town to attend a Level One yoga class!

Yeayyy for me! I’m still patting myself on the back. 

A yoga class.

A yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having pondered the idea of taking yoga for some time now, my body decided it was…now or never. “Shut up…or put up!” It seemed to say.

When I undertake a project, I research it to the nth degree. I never do anything half-way.

There were a couple of in-town sites which were ideally located. However I opted to venture farther from home  for a variety of reasons, not least of which was to learn from someone who would be a nurturing guide. I didn’t want to risk injury hurrying to keep up.

English: Bikram Yoga

English: Bikram Yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Classes at one local operation are held in 95-100 degree temperatures. The practice is called “hot yoga.”

I’m positive I would have passed out before drawing my first breath. And the rule is…once the door closes and class begins…everyone stays put. Those who can’t stand the heat are required to sit on the sidelines and watch…the entire time.

Another yoga venue seemed too small…spatially…and politically. “How’s that?” you ask. Yoga political?

I’ve learned over time that politics is part of everyday life. The smaller the community, the harder felt the politics. Negative vibes are difficult to overlook. You either do. Or you don’t…and move on.

The logo of Red Flag Linux

The logo of Red Flag Linux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A third business never responded to an email I sent, even though their website ensured me they would. That stood out like a “red flag” signalling a lack of organization or worse…promises not kept.

My research efforts always include reading reviews. ALWAYS!!! They tell me more than all the flowery words written on websites.

One review indicated the yoga owner/teacher of the business cancelled class, deciding to breakfast with a friend, even after one student showed.

A review for a second, claimed that a promised refund never materialized.

 Unlike the others, Discover Yoga  was exactly as depicted on its website.main studio

The manager/instructor was knowledgeable, patient and helpful. In its understatement, the facility, had a calming effect. No bells and whistles here! Just yoga. It suited me to a tee.

After learning that my first class was free, I got more good news.

I’m still a young chickadee at 63! Were I a couple of years older, I’d get a senior discount on future classes.

There’s always a silver lining. We just have to…

…look for them…

English: This is, in fact, why I quit my yoga ...

English: This is, in fact, why I quit my yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

go julia!!!

Seventeen (magazine)

Seventeen (magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NBC news  recently shone the spotlight on teen ballerina, Julia Bluhm. From Maine, a normal looking youngster…with a passion for activism. Her debut efforts at effecting change? Getting Seventeen Magazine to stop photoshopping its models’ pictures.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

Another benefit of aging, for there are some, is that vanity takes a permanent back seat. At some point we realize no matter what we try, short of comprehensive plastic surgery, we’re not going to alter our genetics.

A glance in the mirror confirms that I’m looking more like my mom with each passing day…especially without makeup. I’m fighting the battle of the bulge, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to regain the figure I enjoyed in my 20s, 30s, and even 40s.

Who decided that ordinary women with looks ranging from…dour…to homely…to lovely…to breathtakingly gorgeous…wanted to see only one end of the spectrum represented in advertising and in the media. Whoever it was, or whoever they were, must’ve thought we were gullible sheep who wouldn’t buy anything unless touted by foxy hotties.

These days I tend to look past the glam and listen for substantitive words instead. I’m not saying beautiful women have no place in the world. They just don’t represent ALL the women in the world.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see faces and bodies more akin to those reflected back from our mirrors?

Advertisers need to overhaul their perception of what women want. We can help them by boycotting their products.

I for one could easily see Victoria Secret Angels banished for good. Flaunting their scantily clad bodies, these women invite men to fantasize. Some acting out their fantasies with murderous results.  And young girls to imagine themselves as less than, if they don’t see themselves reflected in these sensual goddesses.

How do I start this petition rolling?

 

Victoria's Secret Black Friday at Westfield Sa...

Victoria’s Secret Black Friday at Westfield San Francisco Centre 2009 (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

…or am i just a lone voice?…   😦

………hugmamma.   

calling comcast…are you there?

Early readers of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul are familiar with several posts I’d written detailing my experiences, good and not-so-good, with cable giant Comcast. Knock-on-wood, for the most part I’ve enjoyed uninterrupted internet service since then.

Customer Service

My good fortune is owed in great part to the tracking of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul by Comcast national customer service rep, Mark. It’s been some time since we’ve “spoken,” so his last name escapes me. At the time I knew it backwards and forwards, that’s how much I had come to rely upon him.

Before I go the normal route of responding to computerized questions to resolve my situation, I thought I’d try calling Mark via the blogosphere. “Yo, Mark! Hugmamma calling…hello…are you out there?” 

 Just found his contact information from my earlier post, below…

Mark Casem
Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations
We_can_help@cable.comcast.com

As a combination wedding anniversary/early birthday gift my husband bought me an android, a cell phone like an iPhone…but not. Talk about a boost to my brain cells. I must’ve grown several million these last few days while figuring out all the bells and whistles.

I got a great deal on my Motorola. Since it’s being replaced by a newer version with a larger battery pack, the price was reduced. With no room in my small purse for a thicker phone, the choice was a no-brainer for me. Additional savings of 30% was included when I bought other necessities…more gigabyte, a charger, a backup battery, cover, screen protectors.

Verizon, my cell phone provider, offered another amenity for which I wasn’t prepared, but which made sense for us…land line service. Though generally satisfied with Comcast triple-package, phone/cable/internet, a definite downer occurs when we have a power outage. No electricity means no calls coming in or going out.

During our last outage due to high winds and heavy ice accumulation, I was on my own without access to my husband who overnighted in Seattle. And making my way to friends, and even neighbors, would’ve been hazardous because of falling branches and limbs.

Verizon land service began yesterday. To continue with Comcast, we now need to find out if they’ll offer us a good price for a double package. If not…the search begins…

…any suggestions?

………hugmamma.

trick ads…

Earlier I posted that I’d been invited to participate in WordAds, paid advertising sponsored by WordPress. I declined because of security concerns, moved on and eventually forgot about it. A visit to another blog seconds ago jarred me back into that old conversation.

Without intending to click on a “paid advertisement,” i.e. a commercial…who chooses to watch them, anyway?…I discovered I wasn’t viewing what I thought was part of the blogger’s post. I had just clicked $$$ into the owner’s pocket.

Advertising advertising

Advertising advertising (Photo credit: Toban Black)

While I’m not adverse to capitalism, I’m not particularly fond of deception. After I’d done the dastardly deed, or while I was scrutinizing the youtube video as to its relevance to the post, I noticed in small print “advertising” floating just above and to the left of the commercial.

Feeling bamboozled, I discontinued watching the ad. So I’ve no idea what it was selling. Instead I perused the site. With 4,000,000 page views and thousands of followers the blogger is building quite a nest egg.

The writing is good, as are the photos. I’ve no complaint there. I’m just a little skeptical when it comes to visits to “like” other blogger’s posts, because etiquette calls for return visits and “likes.” A silent handshake, if you will.

There’s a hope that behind it all is a genuine expression of favorability. I don’t like to participate in popularity contests, especially when there’s a payoff involved.

Ads on blogs is fine, when they’re above board. When they sneak up on the reader, I’m not a fan. After unknowingly clicking on the ad, I felt like a “deer in headlights.” I think I’ll be more careful…where I wander…so as not to have another…

Deer in Headlights

…aha!…gotcha…moment!!!…

……….hugmamma.  

😦

…kinsale…far, far away

Visiting other blogs this morning has proven to be a treasure chest of wonderful discoveries.

A Year In The Life at http://ayearinmyshoes.wordpress.com posted photos of Kinsale. I’d forgotten about that quaint, fishing village in Ireland. When we were there in September, I think I walked around with my mouth open the entire time…oohhing and aahhing. I hope the pictures I took will put a smile on your face.

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…fond memories…of another time…another place…

………hugmamma.    😉

…what were they thinking???

Saw this on a friend’s blog, www.booksphotographsandartwork.wordpress.com. Wanted to know your reactions. Couldn’t make heads or tails. A real mystery as to how it works. How does one “hop aboard?” I think I’d need to see the chiropractor AND massage therapist immediately after having a go at it. Wouldn’t you?

Check it out and tell me what you think.  Click…and be amazed!  http://www.hammacher.com/Product/11102?promo=search

The price alone makes me gasp, $13,000. I’ll take 3!!! Yeah, right…

………hugmamma.  

 

…not always in control…but that’s life…

Getting Older 1981–1991

Getting Older 1981–1991 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting older seems to bring with it a keener awareness of life’s mishaps. Or is it just my imagination? The upside is that it doesn’t matter as much as it did when I was a young know-it-all, unwilling to give an inch because youthfulness is akin to immortality, which is akin to godliness. Try telling a teenager what to do, and you’ll see what I mean.

Confrontations aren’t “my cup of tea.” They give me heart palpitations, and words of rebuttal literally stick in my throat. In attempting off-the-cuff comebacks, I’ve swallowed a few words. Words that never made it from the pit of my stomach…to my lips…to the ears of my antagonist.

With age and experience comes the realization that there are those whose opinions I will never alter, come hell or high water. But that’s okay. I don’t need for everyone to approve of my viewpoint. They have theirs; I have mine.

Construction is an arena in which women walk a slippery slope. More often than not we are the ones dealing with the men enlisted to build or remodel our homes. We’re at their mercy, even though we employ them to do as we would like. Having managed 2 remodels thus far I’m beginning to understand what it is I’m doing. I’ve gotten an education from the men whose company I keep 24/7. A reluctant relationship from which I yearn to be extricated…sooner rather than later.

Logo for Hiccups (TV series).

Logo for Hiccups (TV series). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No remodel is without its hiccups. I had my first case of the “hiccups” the other day. My contractor informed me that the closet bifold doors were shorter in height than the opening he’d cut in which to install them. It seems the store’s rep had written out the dimensions in a way that led to the mistake. Long story short, my conversation with the store’s manager ended in a stalemate. We both understood each other’s dilemma but were at a standstill as to how the situation should be resolved.

The store gave me 2 options. Keep the doors and pay my contractor more money to make things right, or switch out the doors for the correct ones, buy more paint for them and delay completion of the remodel by 2 or more weeks. Faith in my contractor, and the desire to exchange the current double bed on which my husband and I now sleep for our own king bed, convinced me to move forward without any delay.

Master Suite - King Size Bed with Jungle View

To my surprise the store manager offered another solution. He’d try to get some money back from the manufacturer for their part in the mistake. It seems they were fractionally off in the height of their doors which compounded the error. I’m awaiting a final call to inform me of recompense for the inconvenience and added expense involved in correcting the problem.

At this juncture I’ve decided what is, is. If nothing comes of this confrontation I’ll have done what I could. As I indicated to the store manager, this experience will color my opinion going forward. I won’t be as quick to recommend his business as I had been.

Customers are Ignoring You

Customers are Ignoring You (Photo credit: ronploof)

I’m all for supporting small businesses, especially in the current economy. But given the times, great service is an asset that helps grow customers. A favorite east coat farmer’s market said it best. “Rule #1 – The customer is always right. Rule #2 – When in doubt, always refer to Rule #1.”

Not everyone subscribes to this belief. But we always have the option of going elsewhere, or altering our choices to suit the situation. It’s our life…our decision. What matters in the end is not to stress

"No worries" text, on the cover of a spare tire on the back of an automobile in Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…over what’s beyond our control… 

Cows at Reclain. No worries in the world!

Cows at Reclain. No worries in the world! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.  🙂 

righting…a wrong

A couple of Wall Street Journal articles caught my attention because they reminded me of my heritage, Chinese and Hawaiian. In both cases the news was good. The first was reported from Hong Kong, where my father had been born. And that is the article about which I’m writing now.

English: whole-shaped Shark fin Stew, Chinese ...

Image via Wikipedia

“Ban on Shark Fin Soup Advances Through Asia was something that needed to happen…long before now. That sharks are caught, their fins hacked off and their writhing bodies tossed back into the ocean is the height of human arrogance in my estimation.

As a child I refused to eat shark fin soup as a guest at a Chinese restaurant. Consuming any part of a shark was pretty scary then. When we had occasion to dine out, our family enjoyed egg noodle or won ton soup. It was more our style and more befitting my mom’s pocketbook. According to Jason Chow, the article’s author, “Shark fin, which can cost up to $400 a pound in Hong Kong, is traditionally served as a soup and is seen as a status symbol in Chinese culture, revered for its supposed powers to enhance sexual potency and skin quality.”

Island Shangri-La Hotel 香格里拉酒店
Image via Wikipedia

A major supporter of the ban is the luxury Shangri-La hotel chain, which refuses to serve shark fin in all of its 72 hotels. Shangri-La Asia Ltd. has been at the forefront of the surging opposition which environmental and animal-rights groups have long championed. In December 2010 the hotel continued to serve shark fin soup upon request, but as of this week the ingredient has been banned altogether. According to Maria Khun, director of communications at the Shangri-La in Hong Kong, ” ‘the feedback…has been phenomenally positive…in the long term, the ban won’t have an effect on business.’ ”

Joining the efforts to bring a halt to hunting and trading the endangered fish are The Peninsula Hotels, whose ban preceded the Shangri-La’s.
     “The Peninsula said that before its ban, more than nine-tenths of its
     Chinese banquets at its Hong Kong hotel served shark fin. The hotel
     said its banquet business hasn’t suffered since the ban was announced.” 

 
Hong Kong harbour and Kowloon from the Island ...

Image via Wikipedia

Singapore retailers FairPrice, Carrefour and ColdStorage have also halted the sale of shark fin in their Hong Kong outlets. Chinese restaurant chain South Beauty has also climbed aboard by removing the soup from its menus. Within the U.S., legislation has been enacted banning the trade, sale and possession of shark fin in Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon.

Bucking the trend is “Sun Tong Lok, a high-end restaurant in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district that is renowned for its shark fin soup–the dish can cost up to $390 for a tureen that contains a 500-gram (1.1 pound) fin–there are no plans to take it off the menu.”

I shudder to think what sharks would do to humans if the roles were reversed…in a topsy-turvy world.

English: NOAA agent counting confiscated shark...

Image via Wikipedia

…could you blame them?…

………hugmamma.

an eye-opener…but not really

Caught a piece on NPR news as I was fixing my bed yesterday that made me pause…and listen, giving it my full attention. It was about products sold in the stores, “Made in Washington,” and “Made in Oregon.” Oregon Ducks T-Shirt (madeinoregon.com)

The eye-opener, or in this case, the ear-opener, was that these retailers sell products that are NOT made in these states.

The reality is that businesses find themselves in bed with anyone who can help them make a buck. And another reality is that the U.S. has been out of the business of manufacturing goods for a long, long, long time. As with  most blue collar jobs involving life’s basic necessities…food, clothing, shelter…we as a country have handed them off to other countries only too happy to get the business. Instead, we’ve gone on to far loftier enterprises which involve the use of our gray matter…and the money is much, much, much better.

So I guess there’s a trade off. We make more money, some of us, doing white collar work. But then we have to hand much of what we make over to those who feed, clothe, and shelter us…like the Chinese, Bangladesh, Pakistani, Indians, Mexicans, Japanese, as well as the people of Hong Kong, Tai Wan, and so on.

Oh! And the salmon used in the “Made in Washington” store products is from Alaska.  (madeinwashington.com)

But as the store president explains, the finishing touches are handled in Washington. The same is true of the ti-shirts and other souvenirs the store sells. The logos and art work are applied in-state. It was telling to hear a salesperson say she feels uncomfortable having to answer customer complaints about the false advertising. And even moreso when she says she shops elsewhere for items that are truly…made in the U.S.A.

As we shop for Christmas gifts, we might start reading the labels as judiciously as we have begun to read the packaging of grocery store items. Graphic shows concept for updated food labels Photo: AP / AP (AP/AP)

We’ve been able to eliminate or at least curb our intake of trans fats, saturated fats, sugar and sodium. Perhaps the secret to restoring our financial well-being is cutting out all the fluff from our other basic necessities…like designer…jeans, shoes, handbags, household decor…and the list goes on. Then perhaps we’d have…

…good health…all the way around…

………hugmamma.  😉

bayeux…as i imagined

Map of Normandy

Image via Wikipedia

The town of Bayeux in Normandy‘s countryside was exactly as I pictured…narrow, cobblestone roads…gothic cathedrals…whimsical store fronts…Hansel and Gretel houses…folks dining outdoors…precious children darting ahead of parents…and flowers…flowers everywhere. “I could return here,” I thought to myself. I’m sure I even suggested to my husband that we retire to Bayeux. And I’m just as certain that he most emphatically said “No.” So I’ll have to content myself with owning a chair there.

My daughter and I decided that since I couldn’t own a home everywhere I desired, that I’d settle for owning a chair instead. I’ve lost count of how many chairs I mentally own around the world. Rather innovative, don’t you think? And more befitting our family’s budget and lifestyle. We’re not related to Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey, and we’re certainly not jet-setters. Chairs are definitely more our style. One per country will suit just fine.

A Medieval tapestry dating to 1066, depicting the defeat of King Harold of England by William, the Duke of Normandy, later known as William the Conqueror, is what enticed us to visit Bayeux. We were not disappointed as you can see by viewing this Youtube clip. But beyond this exquisite relic from the past, the surroundings in which it is secreted away, are the stuff of this traveler’s long-held fantasies.

In another life, I would relish being an inhabitant of this idyllic village. But at the very least I’d love to return to Bayeux with my daughter in tow. Her eyes would sparkle as mine did while I wandered the alleyways, and popped in and out of quaint shops here and there. Needless to say my “point and shoot” camera, always within reach, worked overtime.

Come visit Bayeux with me………hugmamma. 

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trivia…not so trivial

Saw my hairdresser, Zorianna, today. Thankfully she brought me back from the brink. I was beginning to look like a skunk, a white strip growing ever wider at the top of my scalp. I know it’s love, when my husband, a few heads taller, hugs me without asking “When’s your next hair appointment?”

As any woman will tell you, hairdressers are as important to our mental well-being, as a doctor is to our physical well-being. Walking around with our crowning glory at its most glorious, is worth a million bucks! Thank goodness it doesn’t cost that much, but beauty does come at a price. In my case, it’s not so much that, as it is not wanting to look like my husband’s escorting his granny everywhere. And I don’t think it’s just my imagination, because he’s the one who keeps telling me it’s alright to visit Zorianna monthly.

One of the things Zorianna mentioned which I’d not seen, was a Chase commercial explaining that a customer can send pictures, front and back, of a check for deposit into his or her account. I immediately queried “How safe is that?” While it is a deposit, there’s no telling what spammers and hackers, some of them geniuses, will try to do to steal the depositor’s identity, bank account info, or money. I wouldn’t want to find out. But then again I’m still a fraidy cat gingerly tip-toeing around the internet’s universe. So don’t go looking for pictures of my check bouncing around out there in Google-land. They’re safe and sound in cash drawers at Target and Trader Joe’s and Costco and…

ABC World News

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This evening while I was preparing dinner, Diane Sawyer and ABC World News Tonight was on as background noise. I did stop to watch 2 news items.

Alzheimer’s it seems can be prevented, according to recent studies, by avoiding the following 7 items:

 Evidently eliminating these 7 factors can lead to a 25% reduction in the risk of getting the disease. Researchers project that would prevent half-a-million new cases of Alzheimer’s. Something to seriously think about.

Gibraltar Senior Citizens Social Club, Town Ra...

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It seems more and more retired couples have taken to living apart. Doesn’t this sound like an oxymoron?!? Why would married people not want to realize their dream of togetherness in old age? Well it’s not actually as unbelievable as it may seem.

One couple interviewed by the ABC reporter had planned to move to Maine when the husband retired. After trying it for one year, the wife decided she didn’t care to live there year round. So she ended up taking an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts during the winter months. She loved the vibrancy of city life and being surrounded by people younger than herself. And while her husband missed her terribly at the beginning, she felt she was less wimpy. Turning to her husband she laughingly exclaimed “I can beat you up.”

One of my daughter’s friends’ parents have a similar arrangement. They reside in Conncecticut where the father has his business. During the winter, the mom heads south to warm, sunny Florida. When he’s able, the husband flies south for a few days. Sounds like a reasonable solution, if the couple is willing and able.

I don’t think my husband and I would enjoy living apart. We already endure separations when he’s away on business. Something of a regular occurrence, moreso in the past than now. Moreover I lived with my daughter for 2 1/2 years while she was beginning to train for her career as a ballerina, while my husband remained behind….earning our living. 

I’m looking forward to doing things with my husband…like gardening, going for long walks, taking road trips. And doing them whenever we have an inkling. Doing them…

at our whim…not someone else’s…hugmamma.   

swedish hospital…a 5-star resort?

Hubby and I had a date Saturday…touring the brand, spanking new Swedish Hospital in the Issaquah Highlands. We thought we’d make a quick stop, check it out, and be on our way to our real destination…Molbak’s Nursery, gift shop and cafe in Woodinville. Well, we never made it to see the flowers, plants and knick-knacks, or lunch among the lush foliage. Instead we wandered around the new hospital with thousands of other curious tourists to what seemed like a resort, not a place where the sick and maimed go to be cured and put back together again. I’m sure I wandered around, my mouth agape the whole time. We were all like children in a new candy shop, sampling everything with our eyes. I wasn’t the only one who was bug-eyed either.

Walking through glass doors which parted without hesitation, I immediately saw a Starbuck’s to my right…already with a line of people. No small wonder there. Tucked in the corner between the cafe and the front door was the restaurant. Visiting it later, I saw that it was on the caliber of any good dining destination in the community at large. Viewing the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest through the surrounding glass walls would also be a treat…a very calming one for sure.

Wandering further inside through what felt like a grand foyer, a reception desk sat to the left, and next to it a staircase leading to the second floor. Straight ahead was the bank of elevators, and to the right, past Starbuck’s was a gift shop. Rather, I should say, a mall of shops. After touring the floors above, I spent some time wandering in and out of the several stores. This is probably when I most felt like I was not in a hospital.

What appeared to be the main gift shop was lit up with a beautifully handrafted chandelier made by a local artist. Directly beneath was a table also crafted by another homegrown talent. In fact, most of the items in the shop were made here in the Pacific Northwest according to the shop’s lovely manager. She spent a few moments of her time talking with me, smiling all the while. A definite asset to what could be an intimidating environment for some. After all, this was still a hospital.

Walking through an oversized open doorway into the next shop, I delighted in seeing all manner of gifts for newborns and toddlers. Some items I’d never seen elsewhere. Across the way was another, very large, retailer selling exercise clothes, lingerie, and if I’m not mistaken, some maternity items for expectant mothers. One fun gift for you or someone else was a “snap” watch for around $16. The salesclerk kindly showed me how it operated. She stretched out the watchband, snapped it across her wrist, and “voile!” the watchband wrapped itself securely in place. What don’t people invent these days?!?

Down the hallway, next door to the shop with baby gifts, was a small studio for yoga classes. The nice volunteer offered information on how I could sign up for classes. Of course, it involved the internet. What doesn’t these days? Evidently I can check out the schedule for times and styles of yoga on the Swedish Hospital website. I might have to do that. I’ve always wanted to take a yoga class on a regular basis. Good for the body…and mind.

There were doctors, nurses, and technicians milling about to answer any questions. It was amazing to see so many of the staff smiling and relaxed. I’ve usually only seen them hurrying off to tend to patients. And I mean hurrying! Hopefully they’ll continue to smile once they get back to business as usual. I like smiling medical staff. They calm my nerves. Wouldn’t they make you feel more comfortable? They would me.

In October I’ll be having a colonoscopy and endoscopy done by Dr. David Patterson, Medical Director of Gastroenterology at Swedish. I met up with him again at the open house, after having talked with him a month or so ago at our initial consultation. Originally from New Zealand, he retains very little of his accent. Having lived here in the States for 35 years, I can understand why. Dr. Patterson’s ready smile and easy “bedside” manner goes far in steadying my nerves for the impending procedures. Knowing he sees many people in the course of his practice, and having met me only once, I was amazed that he could recall who I was as throngs of people were milling all around us. The key to unlocking his memory about me was that my daughter was a ballerina. We’d discussed it at our first meeting when he asked if I had children. Of course, ask a mom about her offspring…and you’ve got a friend for life. Well, let’s see what I think after the doc goes to work on me in the Fall. I’ll let you know then…

Meanwhile I’ve only good things to say about the new Swedish Hospital and their staff. They’ve served me well for more than a decade, the doctors and nurses, that is. Oh, and the ER team at the old facility. Between my husband and me, we’ve seen them a few times over the years, for various and sundry minor crises, which seemed somewhat major at the time…episodes of asthma, pains mimicking a heart attack. You know, the usual.

The new Emergency Room check-in looked like that in any 5-star hotel. But that’s as far as we went. I’m hoping we won’t have to see the rest of the ER anytime soon. Unfortunately we didn’t do any of the tours offered. The one to see the surgical facility had a line of people the length of the hallway. Since hubby and I were on a “date,” and we’d already spent a couple of hours sightseeing, we decided we’d seen enough to convince us that the hospital was pretty much just what the hype was all about.

it’s what the doctor ordered…and it’s just fine by me…hugmamma.

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like flies buzzing around…inside my brain

A proud mother watches from afar as Prince Wil...

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One more thought before I finally end all discussion about Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story. It centers upon her devotion to her sons, William and Harry. Not that there ever were any doubts. But first-hand testimony of a heretofore, unheard from source, only strengthens the universally held belief that the Princess of Wales excelled at mothering. 

According to Meredith Etherington-Smith, then marketing director of Christie’s Worldwide, who from September 1996 to July 1997 helped Diana prepare for the sale of her gowns to aid her favorite charities:

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

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The British Royal Family in 1880.

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One thing she did take seriously was her role first as mother to the boys and second, as Meredith put it, as the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century. ‘Her relationship with the boys was patently a wonderful one…She was a very good mother. I expected them to be more protective of her than they were, and they weren’t, they weren’t mewling and puking and clustering round her. They didn’t have a neurotic relationship. It seemed to me to be perfectly healthy and normal and nice and a great tribute of all to Diana and secondly to Charles.’ ‘Constitutional plans–well, she felt her long-distance role was to be the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century, that the influence the Queen Mother had had on her grandchildren in a way, she felt that was the kind of role which in a curious way she had been chosen for and one did feel that there was a bit of divine right entering into this, a little bit of fate. And she felt that William should be a democratic King, that the boys needed to have friends, that they needed to know their generation, they needed to know politicians, not just Tory ones, that they needed to know the Blair children. They needed to be part of contemporary English life, not an English life that was really out of date by the end of the war–and I’m paraphrasing some quite long conversations about this. And her job was to make sure they were released from the glass cage, and that when he did come to the throne, a lot of people would know him, and he wouldn’t be a mystery, wouldn’t be a royal freak, that he would be a person. I think that she very much thought she would be a power behind the throne…Diana emphasized her desire that William should be a ‘very English King‘: she felt that her Spencer blood had a lot to contribute. ‘She felt that because of the spider’s web of marital alliances and blood they (the Royal Family) weren’t English. “I come from an English family,” she had said proudly, and “we (the Spencers) are a lot older than they are.” She was very proud of the Duke of Marlborough, for instance.

The Prince Willam Cup. The trophy that is cont...

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Who is hotter? Prince Harry or Prince William?

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Diana was very anxious that her boys should not become isolated as the previous royal generation had been, as indeed their father had been. That was why she had wanted the boys, and William in particular, to go to Eton because they would have proper friends there and not sycophants, ‘Diana said, “There’s no messing around at Eton about someone being the heir to the throne. If you’re not popular, charming, intelligent, or good at games, you’re not going to rate, are you?” And so William knows a lot of people. And the interesting thing about that she said, “I think they’ll be protection, those friends too. They’ve grown up together and they’ll be protective.” And they are. You don’t see grab shots of William that often, and why? Because his friends don’t utter. She’d thought all this through. That’s what I mean by being smart.’ ‘They had money which they carried and spent and they went shopping. In other words she was trying to provide as normal a life as possible–they could come out from behind the glass window, and that was her great legacy.’

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in t...

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Princess Diana

 Why would Princess Diana be so forthcoming with Etherington-Smith, you ask? Probably because she was older, very much like her other confidantes, Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Margueritte Littman. “Meredith surmised that Diana was very comfortable in the company of older women. ‘I think possibly, without being too psychotherapeutic about it, because of the lack of a mother…most of her confidantes apart from Rosa Monckton, were actually older women…and I think she felt very comfortable, they weren’t competition, they were fun and she could become slightly girly with them without the baggage of “I’m the most beautiful person in the world”…’ “

Another random, final, or maybe not so final, thought occurred as I lay awake last night, reading I Love You, Ronnie. President Reagan had a very human, extremely sentimental side. Apart from his family and a few close friends of the couple, I’m sure no one suspected what a great romantic he was, and how he could wax so poetic. At the same time, however, his vulnerability as a human being comes through. To know that the man who could dial up a third world war lay bare his soul in love letters to his wife, is hugely touching. I find myself remembering Ronald Reagan as President, but trying to imagine this newly revealed man behind the strong facade. What I picture is someone like my husband, my father-in-law, friends in high corporate positions. Not only them, but husbands and fathers the world over who, to the best of their abilities, care for their families.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an Ameri...

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The following letter was from a man to his wife, his best friend. It’s a letter any man could’ve written, in fact. This one just happened to be from a President to his First Lady, although at the time he was a working stiff, and she was a housewife.

Ronald Reagan
Pacific Palisades
Thurs. (May 24, 1963)

My darling
     Last night we had our double telephone call and all day (I didn’t work) I’ve been re-writing the story of my life as done by Richard Hubler. Tomorrow I’ll do my last day of location and then I’ll call you and I’ll tell you I love you and I’ll mean it but somehow because of the inhibitions we all have I won’t feel that I’ve expressed all that you really mean to me.
     Whether Mike helps buy his first car or spends the money on sports coats isn’t really important. We both want to get him started on a road that will lead to his being able to provide for himself. In x number of years we’ll face the same problem with The Skipper and somehow we’ll probably find right answers. (Patti is another kind of problem and we’ll do all we can to make that one right, too.) But what is really important is that having fulfilled our responsibilities to our offspring we haven’t been careless with the treasure that is ours–namely what we are to each other.
     Do you know that when you sleep you curl your fists up under your chin and many mornings when it is barely dawn I lie facing you and looking at you until finally I have to touch you ever so lightly so you won’t wake up–but touch you I must or I’ll burst?

Cropped screenshot of Ann Blyth from the trail...

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     Just think: I’ve discovered I can be fond of Ann Blyth because she and her Dr. seem to have something of what we have. Of course it can’t really be as wonderful for them because she isn’t you but still it helps to know there are others who might just possibly know a little about what it’s like to love someone so much that it seems as if I have my hand stretched clear across the mountains and desert until it’s holding your hand there in our room in front of the fireplace.
     Probably this letter will reach you only a few hours before I arrive myself, but not really because right now as I try to say what is in my heart I think my thoughts must be reaching you without waiting for paper and ink and stamps and such. If I ache, it’s because we are apart and yet that can’t be because you are inside and a part of me, so we aren’t really apart at all. Yet I ache but wouldn’t be without the ache, because that would mean being without you and that I can’t be because I love you.

Your Husband

Queen Mother Rose

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…would that all men could, and would, …..bare their souls
…..without flinching ….. at the thought ….. hugmamma.