here comes November, but it might as well be spring

Tuesday was cool and sunny although from the terrace we could see threatening black and grey clouds doing what they do, that is, threaten - and overnight I heard thunder, heavy emphatic rain (no sprinkles) and hail. Wednesday it went from wet to dreary to misty to foggy and back to wet without dropping the dreary, and so I am reminded that November is coming. Thursday's rain started with noisy drumming after midnight, followed by hail, followed by more rain, drizzle and clouds.
I finally stepped out on the terrace, sullenly wondering whether if I had stuck to my 7th grade decision to stop getting haircuts, I would have had hair like Rapunzel's by now.
I went to school in Olden Times, variously also known as The Days of Yore or The Dark Ages. Just like the overworked serfs, we had to get up and walk over to the television to change the channel. In school, the class system was feudal: we had poor peasants - girls whose mothers didn't allow them to wear ballerinas to school because they gave the feet no support, boys whose social life was limited by the ownership of only one dinner jacket, teachers who parked their cars in nearby church parking lots and walked the rest of the way to school so they wouldn't be ashamed as they chugged past the students' parking lot. We had freaks, lepers, madmen, saints and outcasts, too, but although there were classes we did not have class solidarity. One learns early that junior high is practice for high school and high school is a brutal combat sport, you play hurt and no prisoners are taken. Rugby is for wimps. Endurance is finishing 10th grade.
Teachers who were afraid of the rose-lipped maids and lightfoot lads assigned Poems rather than ask for original products that had to be graded subjectively and therefore might lead to disagreement. In case you didn't know, a Poem is a collection of words that must be memorized in their exact order so that the words can be recited back on command lest another Poem be assigned.
I was an exceptionally good student in English, but spoke up too often because I had trouble connecting words with consequences. One morning it was announced that the school auditorium was going to be named, with great ceremony, after a distinguished graduate. After lunch in the school cafeteria, I suggested naming the cafeteria Dotheboys Hall. The English teacher was within earshot. In consequence I learned this Poem about November.
No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day--
No sky--no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--

No road--no street--
No "t'other side the way"--
No end to any Row--
No indications where the Crescents go--

No top to any steeple--
No recognitions of familiar people--
No courtesies for showing 'em--
No knowing 'em!

No mail--no post--
No news from any foreign coast--
No park--no ring--no afternoon gentility--
No company--no nobility--

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

Thomas Hood         
Adding to the bereft atmosphere that is this week's premature November, there are no more Hallowe'en decorations in the stores, apparently they were sold out by Labor Day. There are no more Thanksgiving decorations, either, except for the themed dishes. It appears that this isn't going to be a year when people decide that their Thanksgiving feast would be more festive if they invested in a set of dishes for 8 or 12, decorated with turkeys. There are plenty of such dishes marked down and lingering even though Thanksgiving is November 27th this year. A really grim sign: stores that were fully stocked with Christmas merchandise a week ago are already starting to mark it down.  I imagine we'll be looking at bunnies in February and back-to-school sales in April.

what happens when Google Translator designs a tee OH NO, UPDATED FOR TODAY'S NEW ARRIVALS!

J.Crew posted new arrivals this morning. 
Some days it doesn't pay to get up. Some days it does.

drunk j.crew. um, j.crew drunk. um, some water would be nice.

Hey, the best thing happened this morning!

I was directed to check out this Tumblr, and I can drive a vehicle that moves on treads not tires more easily than I can operate Tumblr, so - here's where you need to go.

You'll thank me. And I thank Jen.

It explains soooo much.

fashion forecast: winter 2014, spring 2015

Early fall's overdose of gray, light gray, medium gray,
 dark gray, charcoal gray, marled gray and 
related and coordinating tones, now admits
 a pop of another color: taupe.
 Here we see some relaxed silhouettes, 
highlighting the drapey, flowy, not-too-tailored,
 indeed effortless, effects of the interplay
 of dark taupe, light taupe, marled taupe, and umber.

Wraps, scarves and headgear continue 
the color story of gentle neutrals, saved
from utter dreariness by interesting mixes of texture.

Runway looks featured undone hair,
messy hair, straggly hair
and exaggerated contouring.

the past is just around the corner

I have now watched all of the episodes of The Roosevelts.  And no, I'm not going to reflect on war, poverty, child labor, discrimination... Well, actually, I reflect (obsess) on one or more of those topics much of the time, but this isn't the forum for sharing my little and probably unoriginal thoughts on global problems.  Let us proceed to the individual and the personal, where I can comment as expansively or as pettily as I wish.

Even in his own time, Franklin had the reputation of being a "cad," which is the description then accorded a guy who was a rat with women. As more and more years go by, and more and more material is made public, I expect more and more details of his caddishness to emerge. Things like that just do. Eleanor, whose reputation was that of a good person or an interfering do-gooder (depending on how you voted and how you lived), had "special friendships," which were gossiped about, but it seems that even her detractors didn't seriously object to her having "special friends." And good for her!

Everything sped up as we careened past the end of one century and started rocketing towards the middle of the age of unbounded media, so I fully expect to live to see a spate of books and articles in which young women with minor careers and smug smiles trumpet their sexual triumphs with any number of more recent politicians, heads of foundations and other public figures. I'm sad for their children and grandchildren. I read an interview with a woman who worked in the JFK White House in which she seemed to think that what she was doing was serving her country. Who would have expected some of these people to brag about their exploits and get them published?

Anyway, I have now watched all seven episodes, and have decided that History Lite has its place after all. It's a good way to introduce the History Began With Moi generation to the concept of The Past.

On a more cheerful note:  Sagamore Hill is a great place - to go inside you need a reservation, and these can be difficult to arrange, especially during school field trip season. I went there on a school field trip, and again on a family trip, and I recommend it.

If you come to New York City and can't arrange to get out on Long Island to Sagamore Hill, the famous double Roosevelt House at 47-49 East 65th Street that Sara built for Franklin and Eleanor and her Own Royal Self is right around the corner from the J.Crew Collection Store on Madison Avenue at the corner of East 66th Street. The house still stands, although the inside has seen much modification.

I'm serious - when we travel,  Himself makes a list of restaurant destinations and I make lists of the historic and cultural destinations on the way to or from, or in the same towns as, the restaurants. I see no reason why this approach should not be useful for shopping. Or, conversely, for choosing which historic sites to visit.

The Roosevelts - not just a costume drama

We've had one or two chilly evenings, and I've spent them watching The Roosevelts. The more eclectic of my brain cells have focussed on the clothes and hats and shoes, how they changed, and how, as in the case of FDR's mother, they, well, didn't.  I also studied the early photographs of young Eleanor. Although not conventionally pretty by the standards of her time - no fine-featured blonde was she! - her heavy eyes and full mouth reminded me of Sophia Loren's in her early years.

It's been easy to work up happy enthusiasm for TR, outraged sympathy for Eleanor, and as for FDR, well, one of my uncles had had infantile paralysis as a baby, as an infant, that is, he never walked. The depiction of FDR's brace, crutches, his nightmares, his perseverance, resonated with me, in my head I heard Pop's tales of how his baby brother kept trying to crawl... I thought of the cheerful, intrepid man my uncle became, and of the impact the terrible disease had had on the entire family. If I sneezed at night, my dad would be right at the door: Are you OK? Did you sneeze? and then, in a careful, deliberately casual voice, Does your neck hurt?

the terrors that creep by night, the arrows that fly by day,
the pestilence that stalks in darkness, the plague that wastes at noontime..

I think also of my grandmother's desperate courage, massaging, stretching, tempting the toddler forward with fruit and candy, insisting on the private use of a public swimming pool, and of my grandfather's insistence on "no tears".

No tears.

My generation - every one of us cousins had the vaccine. And dancing lessons.