Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Pal, Vidal

Originally uploaded by

I was listening to the radio one day recently. Someone was interviewing Vidal Sassoon. Remember him?

It was the mid sixties. America was fighting in Vietnam. Twiggy was making emaciation so sexy that curvy women were jumping off tall buildings [well, thinking about it, anyway.] Hairstyles ran to flips and bee hives, teasing [back-combing] and lots and lots of hair spray. Looking natural was considered un-natural! Instead, we were supposed to torture ourselves by "setting" our hair in "curlers" every time we washed it. These were cylindrical torture devices with prickly bits to catch and hold the hair. I'm pretty sure sleeping in them caused brain damage as well as painful dents in the scalp. Rebellion was frowned upon. What? Go out without setting your hair? As soon as I washed my hair my mother would miraculously appear, all business, ready to set it for me. She was probably afraid I'd just comb it and go, and how would she ever live with the shame? Arguing with one's mother was not encouraged back then so I would grit my teeth, groan inwardly and submit.

My mother was petite. And stylish. It was a penance for her to have string bean daughters instead of dainty persons who enjoyed wearing make-up and letting her "beautify" them. Looking back, I realize the problem was that I was born either too late or too early. I would have fit right in had I been born a hundred years earlier, in my grand mother's day. Likewise if I'd been born when my sister was. But, I was born when I was born and so had to submit to my mother's plans for the perplexing question of how to turn her duckling into a swan.

I hated it! After every last hair had been tightly wound onto rollers I'd have to sit under another instrument of torture---the hairdryer. After my head cooked for half an hour and I began to think it would surely catch on fire, my mother would reappear brandishing combs and brushes and the dreaded hair spray. Taking the curlers out was torture in itself, as those prickly rollers did not easily release their prisoners. Some hairs inevitably got yanked out by the roots. Ouch! Then she would brush vigorously, but the hair promptly "boinged" back to sausage shapes. She was not a woman to give up easily. There were ways to make my hair do what she wanted it to. Teasing, or backcombing, for instance. Lord, how I hated that!

"Only a little," she'd coax. "Just to give it a little height."

Additional height was the last thing I needed. I was already taller than I was comfortable being, I didn't need six more inches of fluffed up hair! And besides, why would you tear perfectly healthy hair like that? And then, to add insult to injury, she'd spray the whole lot with hair spray. Because everyone knows that Prince Charming, when he finally shows up [and it could be any minute now,] will be longing to run his fingers through my helmet! Finally satisfied that I looked presentable she'd encourage me to go look in the mirror, hoping each time that this time I'd love it. Poor woman. Her efforts were wasted. I was an unappreciative ingrate, but would manage a sickly smile so as not to hurt her feelings. Though now I have to wonder why my feelings weren't taken into consideration? Considering it was my hair.

My sister [aka Rise, the unblogger!] was only six years younger than me but we seemed to belong to different generations. By the time she came along, rebellion was all the rage. "Teenagers" were beginning to be looked upon as a breed apart, in need of special handling. I don't think her glossy mane was ever wound up in curlers. If anyone had tried they'd have had to catch her first!

And then, one day, Mum sent me off to town for a haircut. And didn't come along to dictate how it should be done. Vidal Sassoon had just exploded onto the hair style scene with his radical ideas.

No teasing.

No hair spray.

It was all about the cut.

This was my kind of guy! I went, in one short half hour, from a boring school girl haircut to the very latest sculptured hairstyle. Vidal, he said in the interview, would like to have been an architect if he had not been cutting hair. Not such a stretch. In the past I'd come away from the hair dresser's feeling naked, as though I'd been scalped. [My hair was wavy and it was my mother's considered opinion that it looked better short. My considered opinion didn't get a look in]

From this haircut I came away feeling gorgeous! Me! And it wasn't because of any artifice. It wasn't because my hair had been teased to within an inch of its life, or sprayed until it was stiff as a board! I couldn't stop smiling. I felt beautiful. For the first time in my life.

Next day, of course, I had to go to school. And face the nuns. Amazingly, the haircut looked just as good after I'd slept on it. My friends were wildly enthusiastic. The unassuming MB had gone and done something daring! There were some raised eyebrows and pursed lips, notably from the Mag, to whom this new haircut looked alarmingly unsuitable for a convent recruit [she was still entertaining hopes for me at that stage!] The Mag was the squirmmeisterin, but this time she didn't succeed. I just tossed my newly glamorous head and refused to feel bad about looking good!

Vidal came along just in time to save me. If growing up was to be about masochistic hair setting rituals, I wasn't sure I wanted to have anything to do with it. His architectural approach was perfect for the way I thought. A good cut every 4-6 weeks and the rest of the time just comb and go! Maybe growing up wouldn't be so bad if you could do it your way!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Does A Bear Poop In The Woods?

It was brown, at first glance, when we walked in the woods on Sunday. Chilly enough for a sweater but blue sky and sunshine spilling down. The recent rains had made the carpet of leaves squishy in low spots while the higher ground was already dry and crunchy. We squished and crunched along companionably enjoying the fresh air.

If  I were a woodland creature I'd hope this cozy dwelling was available for immediate occupancy....... the base of a mighty oak, with a swimming pool located conveniently nearby........

Mother Nature is quite the decorator. We found a fallen tree bedecked with these frilly fungi....

There's not much colour yet in the woods, but these tiny flowers peeked from beneath the dead leaves......

And this gorgeous vine surprised us round a bend in the path. We'd seen its fallen blossoms along the way and wondered, then came upon the real thing. Mystery solved.

Well content, we climbed back into the car and headed for home. Gradually my nose became aware of an unpleasant odor........."Did we brush off some plant in the woods that had a nasty smell?"

Unpleasanter by the second.....Oh crap! We hadn't stepped in something, had we?

Indeed we had. The waste product of some, undoubtedly charming, woodland creature was thickly adhered to the sole of my shoe...........The offending shoes were removed, gingerly placed in a plastic bag and relegated to the trunk.... No harm done.

As I was saying, it was brown in the woods on our walk on Sunday..........

Monday, February 14, 2011

Itching To Quilt.....

Last week came a package from my friend Em. Inside, some bits of fabric.  Em knows I'm a quilter. What she doesn't know, and I have no intention of enlightening her, is that I am a horrible fabric snob. I know that the W store sells fabric, but I cringe when I hear anyone talking about actually using it in a quilt. Fabric from the J store is sometimes acceptable, but, for the most part, if I'm going to spend half my life making quilts I want the best quality fabric available. Of course I'd rather not have to pay top dollar for it, so my favourite parts of quilt shops are the sale shelves!

So, back to Em and the fabric of dubious origins.....I had mentioned to her once that I was making blocks for breast cancer quilts. That may be what started this....... I scratched my head, surveyed the bits and puzzled what to do....These bits were not particularly suitable for the BC quilts. They looked more like leftovers from projects she'd done with her several granddaughters. An idea started to form. It grew and grew and my grin got wider and wider......I'd make her a quilt!  Don't groan. This was an excellent idea on many fronts.

  1. It would be small, something she could use as a table topper.
  2. It would be simple. I'd start with nine patch blocks and let it evolve.
  3. It would be finished within a week, so, no danger of adding to the UFU pile.
  4. No agonizing allowed. I'd just cut and stitch, with my eyes closed if need be.
  5. I would use only Em's bits and fabric I already had.
  6. Best of all, play therapy, badly needed, for me!.
I made the blocks on the  weekend, and alternate blocks at spare minutes during the week. At first my alternate blocks were square within a square. But, do you know how boring they get after you've made four? Deadly! So, what to do? Em's bits were mainly reds, pinks and greens, several had hearts, so I dug around and found some blocks leftover from a ragged hearts wall hanging I'd made years ago. [Vindication for saving useless crap!] They were a bit too big, but a little judicious surgery took care of that!

Onward! No agonizing. Lay them on the floor, switch 'em around, stitch 'em together! Smokin'!

Rummaging in the stash produced fabric for borders and backing. Before you could blink I was pinning layers together. The end was in sight!

I attached my walking foot and sat down to quilt. And that's when TROUBLE reared its ugly head.

One furlong to run and my horse quit. Sat down in the middle of the track and wouldn't budge! I foolishly urged her on, when, obviously, she wasn't up to the job. Drat! Two lines, the width of the quilt, of ugly puckers! I sat for an hour unpicking those ugly puckers, glaring all the while at my recalcitrant horse. She's a game old girl, my Bernina. We've been together for twenty years. We've made some beautiful quilts and had a lot of fun in the making. But I've been neglecting her and she just couldn't take it any more.  She's way overdue for  some R&R.

This morning I made a reservation for her to spend a few days at Dr. Gregor's spa for tired and creaky, overworked and cranky Berninas. She'll stay for a few days and enjoy some badly needed, richly deserved, pampering at the expert hands of Dr. Gregor. He'll give her a full body massage, with aromatic oils imported especially from Switzerland. He'll scratch all her itches, lubricate her aching joints, adjust her stitch width and length regulators,  feed her only the finest oats and make her feel like a young filly again!

And since there'll be no full body massages, or pampering with aromatic oils going on here while she's off , having the time of Reilly, I hope she comes back with her work boots on! We've got a quilt to finish!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Still Scavenging...

When I went to visit in Ohio last October, Lily let me play with her yarn. She knows I get twitchy if I don't have something to do with my hands when I'm out of my natural habitat so she produced this..........

There was lots more than this to start with, but I used it up making a cozy scarf........dashingly modeled for you here by Teddy, my ancient, blind bear.

[Aside from Teddy: "She'd be better employed knitting me a decent pair of socks. Do you see how shoddily shod I am? I'm just saying...."]

No. 6 - A Library:

This is not our library proper, but then I'm not a proper rule-follower. Besides, the Little Red Schoolhouse makes a more interesting picture than the actual library. This is where old library books go to die..... or, with a little luck, find a new lease on life.

No. 10 - Something out of Place.

I was stuck for this one, until this morning..........

"Hey Dude! Where'd you park the car?"

......................when I came across these two fellows looking a little distracted in the parking lot.

                                                                   Only four to go!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt, Straggler Style

Here's that Photo Scavenger Hunt list I found over at Anna's. I'm sure there are rules, but rules are made to be broken, or so I've heard. There's probably some picky requirement about having to do it in January; probably another that you do all twelve in one post; possibly a requirement that all of your pictures were taken in January. But having spent the best years of my life following the rules I'm now indulging in some long overdue rebellion. To my credit, I did get #1 in on time, but got carried away on a tangent, so it had to stand alone.

Slow and [un]Steady also gets to the finish line....eventually! Usually about the time all those over-achievers have dusted themselves off and gone home. Besides, if you follow those rules you get one post out of it, whereas having already got one, I intend to get a few more before I'm done. Devilishly clever, don't you think?

 This photo of a stained glass window, SL #2, was taken in a little chapel we wandered into on a visit to the OC's alma mater in upstate New York some years ago.......

A bit too modern for my taste; I prefer traditional church windows, like this one, taken on a trip to England when our youngest grandson was born........

Here's a reflective surface, SL# 9  [not a mirror] taken on a recent walk in the park.

Here's  playground equipment, minus the players....SL# 5 .....Another out of proper sequence......I'll probably be black listed by the Scavenger Hunt Committee. Oh dear.....

SL#3 was "a goldfish." This fellow probably has another name, but he looks gold to me! I found him lurking under the aforementioned "reflective surface."

He was accompanied by a flotilla of little turtles, of whom, unfortunately, I could not get a decent picture. My camera's zoom is misbehaving, so the only way to have gotten a good picture of Mr. Goldfish's little friends would have been to go wading in after them. When it suits, I do obey the rules......

I wasn't even tempted !

That last photo wasn't on The List....Oops! More demerits!  Five down, seven to go!