Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Here follows a re-post - we arrived back from Seattle Monday night, the groceries and turkey arrived on Tuesday, and it's been just a little hectic. Enjoy -- I'm especially thinking of my sister because she can't be with us this year. If the weather allows, I'll bring her a drumstick over the weekend.

With the approach of Thanksgiving, my thoughts turn to my little sister, because one thing for which I'm always thankful is my sister's approach to life. She just keeps on. She showed her early promise the year my parents agreed to have Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's (Pop's older sister, to be precise). To their dying day they quarreled about who had consented to go, each blaming the other, but we went. Aunt Clarabelle was the worst cook in the family and everyone knew it.

For a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old, the whole trip meant agony - no comfy corduroy pants that could be thrown in the wash after a busy morning peeling things, no goofy table decorations, no wonderful smells from the kitchen, no lazing around on the floor watching the parade. None of Mom's ineffable gravy. No secret recipe yummy stuffing. No, no, no. The morning was spent in hair agony, Mom having decided that her sister-in-law should see us at our cutest, girliest worst. This meant long hair cylinders, that is, sausage curls, and big bows. My scalp has never forgiven her. While she was working on Little Clotilde, I brushed out my cylinders, not realizing that while the brushing might get rid of the sausages, it wouldn't make my hair go back to its normal stick-straight flatness. The sausages were replaced by something that stood up straight and - "You look like shrubbery," said Little Clotilde. I may have been hoping that if I looked weird enough Mom would leave me home.
random eBay offering of old
pic of patient little girl with sausage curls
Plaid dresses, Mary Janes, tights, ribbons all duly applied, a few cruel rubber bands and a lot of Brilliantine on me, we trudged out to the car. Pop was optimistically checking for flat tires, loose rim, broken tail lights. "Any cop who has to work today will be in a lousy mood," he explained. "I'd rather stay home than get into it with some $&@!?%## over nothing."

Alas, the car was fine. "We who are about to die salute you," Pop declaimed as he opened the doors for his ladies. And off we went to the land of pink silk lampshades and plastic slipcovers.

Pop wrinkled his nose as we stepped indoors, nothing smelled bad, but there weren't any enticing aromas either. I thought I detected Lemon Pledge. It's a bad sign when a meal is being cooked and the family dog chooses to hang out in front of the television.

The grown-ups were issued teeny cocktails, and Little Clotilde and I were offered a choice of ginger ale or prune juice. Aunt Clarabelle was a devoted reader of magazines, and she shared the information that the shortcut turkey tips, the stuffing recipe, and the creatively approached side dishes were all new to the repertoire this year. Pop looked around for a larger glass, humming. "Are you humming?"

"Oh, sorry, a tune from some opera just popped into my head and now I can't get rid of it, you know how it is..." Pop had a wicked grin that we always looked forward to, here it was and Little Clotilde and I were almost dancing with anticipation.

"Don't fidget, girls, what opera?"
"Ah, Donizetti!  - ah - the magnificent Lucrezia --"

At that moment Mom grabbed us by the elbows, one a side, and bustled us to the pink-and-gold powder room to wash our hands. She used the privacy to remind us again that we were guests, we would mind our manners, we would not poke one another, we would try to eat what was put in front of us without making awful noises, and each of us would find something nice to say or allowances would be withheld.

Aunt Clarabelle had been putting finishing touches on her platters and apparently Uncle Er wasn't an opera-lover, for no one seemed to have taken offense at Pop's humming, and we were waved over to the table. Silver was gleaming, dishes were shining, laden with - hard to tell. I recognized celery and olives and a bowl of throbbing homemade cranberry relish.

At the sideboard Uncle Er was trying to subdue a burnt pelican, which despite being dead, was fighting back.
Meaningful glare from Mom - my turn to say something nice. "What a pretty table!"

And now for Little Clotilde: Big smile, cute little arms held out wide, "OHBOYOHBOY! Everything I don't like!"

This is a good place to stop.

Oh, right, Uncle Er. He disliked the name his parents had given him and chose one he liked better as soon as he could. Pop considered this ridiculous and refused to indulge Er by calling him by his new name, and Er refused to answer to the old one. To keep the peace, Pop just called him Er, and we children respectfully called him Uncle Er.

Just curious -- who holds the title of
Worst Cook in your house?

recent acquisitions, recent returns

Rampant materialism, did I hear someone mumble? You may have a point, Ms Mumbles, but I prefer to think of posts like this as Public Service Announcements.

the Everlane sleeveless silk shirt in the Clay color:
great color, great fabric, great fit, love the collar, buttons, etc, etc. All things considered, the price is not terrible. And astoundingly, it fits just like in the picture.

Well, I find myself saying that about Everlane merch quite often. For example, the Everlane Swing Trench:

I consider this a jacket, not a coat. That said, I'm loving it. The sleeves are a touch narrow, I've noticed this on Everlane's long-sleeved silk blouses as well, but I can get in and out of it with no trouble, so no complaint. Sturdy fabric, and when on, it hangs nicely. I was afraid it would look like an old-fashioned maternity top, you know, those loose smocks that preceded tight t-shirts as appropriate pregnancy wear? But no, it's just a jacket, not quite as straight as a pea jacket. Loving the collar and the shoulder detail. All things considered, the price is -- not terrible. I'm keeping it. Note that it's a cool-fall-day jacket, not a windy-winter-day jacket. Just so you know.

Madewell. The denim work shirt. So far I've only gotten my hands on one of the shirts I wanted to try, the one in the "slate roof" color, which is grey. It's not really denim, either, a bit lighter and more flexible, which is a plus for a shirt. Decent detailing, the 30% off promo applied. The fit is kind of floppy, like I wouldn't be comfortable in a smaller size, but it's a cute throw-on. The side slits are too high, tank required. When the white one arrives, however, it's going back. 

I'm not a screaming fan of Madewell,  I find that the dresses and skirts are generally unfriendly, and I've had a few off-putting experiences in the Fifth Avenue store. Like the time I brought in a pair of shoes to return (web order), and was told that I couldn't return them in store because Madewell doesn't carry shoes. "Um, what are those things over there?"

    "That's a display. We don't sell them."

Well, glad we straightened that out. 

Oh, you want to know how this ended? Well, I went down the street for a sulky stroll through Anthropologie, came back to Madewell, returned the shoes with a different staffer, no problem.

Anyway, periodically I do find shoes I like at Madewell and I grab them, often in 2 or even 3 colors. This is not my year to buy Madewell shoes. But I can wait.

J.Crew. I'm hanging on to the Black Paisley Shirt, having decided that it will work very well with some pencil skirts that are dying to get more friendly with it, as well as with the Collection black leather pencil skirt from last winter or the winter before. I'd love to find tailored black silk pants to wear with it, full-length pants with a mid-rise or even high rise are essential, because the silk on the blouse is so rich that
skimpy skinny capri or ankle pants would just look like I bought the blouse and then ran out of money. Well, I just about did, but whose business is that?

Update: I saw several different versions of the Noir Floral Shirt in London a few weeks ago, and decided that J.Crew's is the nicest print. When it resurfaces in my size, I will have it. This print appeared in pants and a coat too, the coat struck me as something one would wear once, and the pants - well, as I said, I like it on the blouse, but on the pants the print just looks creepy.

Update: I pounced! Love it with the black leather skirt. Found black silk pants at the Saks sale (online, the live sale in the store is not for me). V. tailored, from GO by GoSilk, great fabric (thick and matte 100% silk). I was amazed that there were any left to go on sale, but then I realized that there's so much junky nightgown-variety silk around, many people may have forgotten what silk can really look like.

I love me a good newsboy cap, but as I've already admitted, I seem to have gained weight around the circumference of my head. Dear Lord, how many more places can there be left where You can inflict additional weight upon me? Anyway, as to the newsboy cap, I thought I'd found a contender when I spied this one in the Men's section, Harris tweed with label no less:and I was delighted to see that I could get it in Large/Extra Large. Alas, it wasn't Fathead Week, the hat was too tight. Not keeping. Except that, given J.Crew's inconsistent sizing, I'll try on other L/XLs if I pass a store with Men's merch. The fabric is much prettier IRL than in the website picture.

J.Crew again, the funnel-neck sweatshirt. I'm being daring here, because I don't like poly blends, but I see this as easy-on easy-off for air travel. Good price on the promo, I got it in black. Probably not keeping - the funnel hits just at the bottom of my chin when turned up - the shirt not the chin - and the zipper teeth at that point could be a problem. 

Update: yes, it went back.

Shoes. I have two pairs of silver or silver-ish oxfords coming from 6pm.com. At least one will go back. Update: one went back, fit issues, sad but ok. The other - well, I took another look this morning while waiting for my head to clear, and oh, dear, they are gold. They will leave town by tonight.

Winter vests. I've made the delightful discovery that a kids' size 14 or 16 will sometimes fit me. On top. In my closet awaiting winter are a Sherpa-lined quilted vest from last winter, and a creamy white Sherpa-on-the-outside vest with gray quilting on the inside from this year. Recommend trying, they fit me and I wear a size 10 J.Crew perfect shirt. I also have a couple of size 14 tees waiting for next summer. Meanwhile, I'm pondering: as much as I love the Sherpa-on-the-outside baby, where would I wear it? It wouldn't be creamy white for long in the city, and it's a little too too cute (read: inauthentic) for the beach in winter. It's reminding me of Ralph Lauren's mistaken but mercifully brief flirtation with velveteen skiwear...
Update: I replaced the new Sherpa vest with the Sherpa popover, also a Crewcuts marvel. Now this is warm and cozy. I will try not to bump into things when I wear it.

J.Crew Kelsey dress. I thought this dress would benefit from having the poofy shoulders brought down to reality, and I was right. The money I saved on the promo took care of the tailor, who is expensive, but Does What He Is Told To Do. The shoulder puff is gone. Otherwise, the dress is smooth wool, not fuzzy or scratchy, nicely made, not much room if one wants to be really fashion-forward and let the hem down, but that's not really a factor this season. If the dress is still around next winter, remind me to check how a false hem would work.
Accessorizing with goosebumps - a trend that has run its course. Would this be a good place to say that while I resent spending serious money on tights F/K/A pantyhose, I have taken a real dislike to the look of bare legs with wool or wool-like skirts and dresses? And coupled with the reappearance of micro-mini skirts, it's an unfortunate confluence of trends that I wish would go away. So I'll buy the tights, big deal. I always liked the look of tights that are the same color as the skirt - like, say, gray or wine; not so much with a dress. With the Kelsey dress, for example, adding green tights would create the impression that a very large stalk of broccoli had stopped by. Black works much better.

J.Crew Donegal tweed stovepipe pants. Suitable for wear in the Great Frozen North. This fabric is gorgeous, gorgeous, it's a true Donegal weave with flecks of this color and that color, and I just fell inn love with the pants. Sadly, the fabric is also extremely thick and heavy. Since the tweed is a blend and the lining is poly, the pants are hot and don't breathe. Otherwise, nicely tailored, but the heat factor made them a no for me. A larger size didn't work either. The off-cuts from the bolts of pants material have been used to make a top and a skirt in conjunction with other fabric. I wasn't impressed. I would have loved an entire skirt, perhaps what is sometimes called a riding skirt, out of that tweed. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I'm still on the lookout for:
Black satin oxfords with 1 ½ inch or 2 inch heel, almond or pointy toe.
Heavy real flannel pj's in silly retro print to wear for sleeping
comfortable but effective bra

and of course

world peace.

As one does...

I love my dear Naomi's reviews of the fashion and glitterati press, but - uh, oh - look out! she has COMPETITION.

Fortunately there's room for both of these savvy, witty ladies.

has the magic worn off? the sad truth and some non-food pictures

For years I could travel and eat and drink and drink and eat and drink and travel with no ill effects. I drank tap water in Rajastan (thinking, what's the worst that could happen, so I'll lose 5 pounds?) -- I was fine. I ate fat and starch in Eastern Europe - I was fine. I ate salads in Cambodia, street food in China - I was fine. I downed glass after glass of beverages (what's the worst that can happen, I'll need to call a car?) - I was fine. Foie gras, butter, scallops, potatoes cooked in goose fat, chocolate -- I concluded that one didn't gain weight travelling because of the state of heightened alertness, because I was almost always in motion when not sitting at a table, dodging traffic, darting in and out of stores, climbing stairs, etc etc etc. And of course when you're doing that kind of stuff between meals, you're not eating.

And then it caught up with me.

The first sign of trouble: Certain once-loved jeans that were comfortable when setting off, could not be worn on the plane home. Well, they could only I wanted to wear them closed. And anyone who's worked on airplanes knows that the time comes when you blow up like a balloon on takeoff and do not immediately deflate upon landing. So, OK, a week or 10 days to de-puff. Salt is not my friend (but I knew that).

And then the de-puffing, well, didn't.

I've been a dark gray mood ring, as Dani once described the state of things, since I got back from France, apparently the magical property of travel that prevents weight gain because you're always on the go - has worn off without warning, and I've been living in my sad fat clothes while I try to reverse the awful truth. Sigh. So even though there are lovely restaurant pictures in my iPhone, I'll continue to defer the food posts.

However, that doesn't mean I didn't take other pictures. One of the things I love about being in Paris is that no matter how modern and commercial the area, there are almost always alleys and courtyards that remind you you're really in Paris. Above are some random shots I grabbed as we were going up the external escalator of the Pompidou Museum.

and here are some glimpses of the more amusing art on exhibit indoors:

So while I was bemused to see a Theory store on the Rue St-Honoré,
just across the street from Colette,

I was glad to see that Colette continues to feature whimsy and irony.

a block or two further on, clinging to the side of the Eglise St. Roch 
(St Rocco's Church), is a street that suggests Parisian life in another era.

In many large cities, my own included, people pay lip service to the treasures of the past and build towering stacks of investment properties that will never be lived in, glass ice cubes of offices that deal in imaginary or imagined assets... and the sandwich shop, the hardware store, the independent  druggist - well, you're away for two or three weeks and they've vanished and still more overpriced shoe stores have moved in. I love me some cute shoes, but still...  I'm not particularly nostalgic for the times in which I grew up, except sometimes for the prices of stuff. And for the home-made potato salad at a long-gone neighborhood store.

But is there a word for nostalgia about times further past, about houses one couldn't possibly have lived in, about a grace and elegance one couldn't possibly have achieved, about sights and smells that were already vanishing in Nana's day? Kind of a weird déja vu, maybe. And a rather selective sentimental wish list, especially about the aromas, come to think of it.

it's almost Hallowe'en. and now for something completely different.

no verses this year.

no costume parodies this year (although I note early signs of a return of feathers).

Hallowe'en can be eerie, can be weird, can be funny, and sometimes can be all that.

So - a contest!

There's a whole body of "literature" based upon the premise that when zombies or vampires or monsters or space creatures or undead first interact with earth-dwelling humans, they - the zombies, etc.- don't quite know how to behave or what's called for in various social situations. This can be humorous or disastrous.

So I was thinking that there may be times when someone in an ordinary job or in a position of privilege or leadership - or just someone who is living in your house with you - does or says something that makes you wonder




I'll give a few examples that really really truly happened in my life:

Himself and I were at an elegant drinks and heavy hors d'oeuvres event. We separated to work the room. Suddenly he was at my side, holding my elbow: We have to leave. Now. Fast. We quick-stepped to the elevator, and once we were inside with the door closed I asked why the rush. Because I just put some half-chewed wet fish into (important work connection)'s hand.

When we were safely out the door and in a cab, him muttering ohgawdohgawdohgawdohgawd the whole time, I asked for an explanation. And got one: there were some small buffet tables in the room, one featuring smoked fish appetizers. He popped one into his mouth, chewed, encountered a bone, there were no plates or little napkins within reach, so holding the bone and partially chewed fish in his right hand, drink in the left, he went looking for a place to lose the fish. And the VIP of the event bounded over to him, hand out, great to see ya, how ya doin, and grabbed his right hand. Fish and all.

Do you think he'll remember it was me? he asked pitifully.

Another example. A newly widowed friend was receiving fix-up suggestions from her relatives and former neighbors. People she hadn't heard from in years were calling to tell her they had a guy for her. And she got this call:

I think he's perfect for you, he's about your age, maybe a little younger, he's a doctor, he has a nice practice, he lives here in the city, he's tall, charming, nice head of hair, also recently widowed...

By now experienced with calls like this, my friend asked But?

What do you mean, but? He's a lovely guy.

There's always a but. Tell me now or I'm hanging up.

OK, well, nothing serious, not a real objection to him as a person but maybe something you might want to know - um, both his first two wives committed suicide.

Now it's your turn, Dear Readers. Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly felt you were talking to/surrounded by/about to be abducted by - creatures?

Please share!

emails from Nordstrom's are getting a little too personal

I mean, this speaks to my soul. 
Unless it's meant as a criticism of my personal life, 
in which case they can just wait for their check.