The Enduring Value Of A Scarf, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:20am

This past week I drove to Marin County for lunch with a writer I’d met on a fiction course. It was so fun. I just love people. What miracles! Anyway, the outing warranted putting on actual clothes. How many times I have worn these brown Eileen Fisher lantern pants, or what I will do when they wear out, I can’t tell you. Because I don’t know! So good! Big pants forever! With Church oxfords (because big pants do love a big shoe), Theory jacket from last year, and an Etro scarf my brother gave me decades ago. To ensure that casual dressing holds up its part of the

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Never Say Never, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:02am

Do you separate your life into “eras?” I know Taylor Swift believes, but how about we the somewhat-less-famous? Maybe because 67 is a lot of years to imagine separately, I do. In fact, I feel now like I’m moving out of a time that began at 50 with my divorce, navigated my children’s graduations from college and graduate school, and brought me to remarriage, retirement, and this moment in my house with a husband still working. (He’s younger than I am.) In this new era I attempt things previously believed impossible. Write fiction among them, something I’m still plugging away at. Become capable of internal quiet, also plugging

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New Year And New Washing Machine, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:16am

There’s a concept, in fiction, of “writing yourself into the story.” Doesn’t mean writing about yourself per se, more like writing a bunch of detail that the readers won’t need or even want to know but you the writer need to access before the actual story reveals itself to you. Like hemming and hawing before you speak, or wiggling your arms before you dive into a big swim race. (How are you?) Here are some details. In these past 30 days our 18-year old washing machine broke; I finished my home repair projects, as best I could; I had the 20-year old water-damaged floors refinished. I lit the

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In The Bleak Midwinter Shelter From The Storm, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:43 am

It’s winter in California. There’s frost on my neighbor’s roof most mornings and the leaves have fallen from our alder, leaving only spring green catkins. Time to turn inwards; time to get quiet. Time to welcome family; time to get loud! I’ll be off until mid-January. Until then, let me just say thank you for showing up to this loud quiet space as you do, thoughtful, funny, and highly original. Sending you all my best wishes for this year’s close and the opening of the next. Yr fren, Lisa (title reference is to this, and yes, it was hardly like to have been bleak in Jerusalem in December but

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Not Flattery But Proportion, Or Saturday Morning at 8:48am

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of lunching in San Francisco with a blogger friend and her husband. Tablecloths! Halibut! Consequently I had to doff my sweatpants. How to dress when you want to celebrate but you’d also like to walk a lot of city blocks with your feet intact on arrival? decide you can push the definition of fancy a bit by wearing your good sneakers. This is California, after all. remember that often what matters most is looking like you meant to put on these clothes, AKA impunity decide you owe the world no figure flattery and can substitute the proportion of your clothes for your

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Now It’s Time To Decorate For Christmas, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:25am

OK, so NOW I will start decorating for Christmas. Mostly I want light and a balance of peace and pattern as far as the eye can see. I think I planned the table first. I have pined after new salad plates for ages, as I’m rough on our red and white Cornishware. Many chips tell the story; Replacements Ltd. to the rescue. Does everyone know about them? They sell used-but-excellent-condition tableware, and now I’m the proud new owner of 6 red Fiestaware and 6 different mostly red, approximately holiday-themed, salad plates. Great customer service, by the way. Festive ‘R Us! (yes, that’s a rug in the background. expeditious for photos on

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The Evolution Of Family, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:03am

I hope your Thanksgiving, if you celebrate, shone. For the first time ever my family gathered neither at my mother’s house nor my father’s, with what we are now calling The Level One and Level Two adults. By which I mean we four siblings and our partners, our children and their partners. Most of us are adults, hence the term. In this configuration, we are in some ways a whole new family. As any of you longtime readers know, and maybe all of you because although I try to respect other people’s privacy I have not been shy about sharing my own experience, it’s been a rough several

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The Joys Of Doing It Yourself Very Badly, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:47am

  I am performing small touchups to my house, very badly also with glee upon glee upon glee. Backing up, it may come as no surprise that I know nothing about fixing much of anything, having over the years done much more inventing than repairing. When one has a certain talent, by which I mean nothing glamorous, just a methodology that seems to produce success, one uses it. The point is that getting older can allow for growth. Growth, for me at least, requires not minding non-catastrophic mistakes. You? If we’re lucky, even enjoying them. That’s a doorknob. You’d guessed. But the wood around this doorknob had rotted,

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What We Imagine And What We Must Sense, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:21am

I want to test an idea with you. But first a brief digression for context. 1) My family of origin has the concept of “Carnochan science,” which means that we–probably mostly me– have been prone to positing frameworks for how the world (writ large) works, based on what we (writ small) see and feel. Like, what’s elegant must be right! 2) Given my previous post on videos of 100-year old people jumping out of planes, and then the post on memory, it feels as though in our community is interested in quirky perspectives on aging. OK then. On the one hand, experientially, getting older feels like pieces of

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As Discussed, Silk Blouse, Jacquard Pants, And Crystal-Toed Pumps, Or, Saturday Morning At 10:53am

Because one has, after all, responsibilities, and one has, after all, a deep love for information, here’s what my silk blouse outfit looked like in situ. Or, in medias res, if you prefer. All archaic phrases welcome. Also, I have blue eyes. Blouse: Vince Pants: Dries van Noten, 2020 Shoes: Jimmy Choo, 2013 (similar, with higher heel) Necklace: Unknown enamel artist, some century that is not this one. My mother’s, and possibly a grandmother’s but that provenance is lost in the sands of time Earrings: Hiding in my hair, decades old, similar here Pants in a jacquard weave; necklace features a drawing of two people with strange limbs

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Toward A Fuller, Richer Set Of Western Rituals, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:18am

I don’t find my culture to be very good at mourning. Too many subjunctives. Other cultures, to my way of thinking, are better with loss. What do I mean by my culture? Let’s call us Anglo-Americans, as I feel I’ve talked enough about WASPs to last a lifetime. What do I mean by we aren’t terribly good at it? Well, what was the last time you went to an Anglo-American funeral or memorial service and everyone shared a full expression of grief, howsoever they were moved? Perhaps my experience with buttoning-up is unique? Boy oh boy, I’d be glad to hear that. Anyway, I’ve been thinking lately that

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Festivities Both Lovely And Sensible, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:44am

As light lowers here in the Northern Hemisphere, we gather by the hearth. In modern parlance, I’m talking parties. In less modern speech, we might discuss party clothes. Nobody says party clothes any more, right? In years gone by I bought new outfits every year to mark our winter holidays. Many of them hang in my closet still, because I’m unlikely to wear a tight-bodiced Prada dress while I write, or garden, or walk, or cook dinner. Last year I wised up, if you can call pearl-studded gold booties wise, which I can and will. This year, all I wanted for Christmas, and Diwali, and Thanksgiving or any

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In The Face Of It All, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:46am

I’ve spent a lot of the week wondering how to post today, in light of the attacks and counter-attacks in Israel and Gaza. The answer is I can only tell you how I respond in the face of complex, terrible, historical, geopolitical, unknown territory events. In other words, I have nothing to say–except I have to. First I always try to abstract out the universal. (Probably as a protective instinct, oh my mind, can you save me?) On the one hand, here I see power and greed, rage and despair. There’s a line somewhere defining what we as humans can condone in ourselves and for everyone I know

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Catch And Release, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:21am

Truly, although I have ordered the Uggs Ansely slippers and happily await their arrival, I have not been buying clothes. Oh, I’ve looked at them, I’ve even coveted them, but the inner voice saying, “You really don’t need that,” is far louder than the imp that whispers, “Ooooooooo…” I suppose the first thing I had an urge for and then let go of was a pair of Repetto ballet slippers. About a year ago. They are now cool again. Am I prescient? Let’s pretend. Subsequently, here’s what has caught my eye: Eileen Fisher ponte pants, in Burgundy. The color is the whole point. And the stretch. I’d love

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The Red Pin Of Memory, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:01am

  You all have some strong and intelligent opinions about aging. So, I thought, as a newly minted 67-year old, I might talk about my experience of my changing memory. This feels very intimate, to discuss the inner working of my mind, but also useful for me, so thank you in advance. A few facts. As a teenager, I could memorize like a queen. As an indicator, I was cast in Jean Anouilh’s Antigone, as Antigone, and I memorized my entire part (so many lines) in one weekend, pretty much just by reading it. Twenty years later, with young kids, and a full time job, I had begun

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Slippers Are Life, Or, Saturday Morning at Some Point

It’s time for a critical decision. (hold breath) I need new slippers. But seriously, autumn is in the air and in the floors and my old Glerups have given up the ghost. What do you wear on your cold toes? I loved my Glerups when new. My hesitation in getting a new pair comes from the way they stretch out before they wear out. Once the wool felt is stretched, the slippers get too big. I tried a couple of methods to shrink them; I failed. My primary needs are warmth, softness for cranky feet, breathability, enough durabiltyas to soles that I can walk through my garage to

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This Is The Way, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

Well that was not fun. I highly recommend not catching COVID, in case you wondered. To recap, I have had every vaccine known to mankind (although my last was in April; protection therefore waning), was in reasonably good health with no underlying conditions except my age, had never been infected, decided to fly to the UK for a quick trip, wore my mask except to eat (inside and on the airplane), and proceeded to get quite sick. Not the respiratory miseries of early COVID days, but good golly miss molly I felt awful. Paxlovid helped. Soup helped. Sleep helped. Television didn’t help, but it did pass the days.

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COVID, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:00am

Hi all. I took a whirlwind trip to England for a friend’s book event and returned, despite masking, with my first case of COVID. Brain fog is real. Respiratory stuff is fine so far. And I’m on Paxlovid. So I hope to see you here next week. Any tips for healing welcome. Have a good weekend.

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August, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:08am

Welcome to September! I hope you all had a lovely August. My extended family traveled up to the Eastern Sierra to spread my father’s ashes, as he wanted. We stayed here, as he did most summers for 50 years. We made our way up to a high meadow. Some of us in an ATV, (that is not my guitar, I was merely the guitar transporter, but it was fun to hold), and the rest on horseback, to here. We said our goodbyes. One way, or another, in a wild place where small flowers grow and peaks laze about. Then we traveled back down the mountain. I think we

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What Needs To Be Always New, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:23am

Having always, always sought novelty, I do believe I’m starting to repeat myself. This is good, when it comes to life accoutrements, and I’m happy to have settled on what to wear and where to find it. A short list below. (I’ve linked to the currently available products from above, and also my new sneakers not seen. If you’re curious about any of the other items below, just put the terms into the blog search up there in the top right hand corner and past posts with examples should magically appear. I appreciate your interest in my style. We do like to see how our cohort ornaments, do

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In Which I Permit Myself A Rant Because We Are Allowed Crabbiness With Age, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

Something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for a long time: I strongly do not care for most articles about old people. Aging is hard, and also, in my experience, quite beautiful in its own weird way. But mostly it’s not nothing; centenarians in downward dog are rare; 90-year old mathematicians likely get achy feet; dementia, real. Yeah, maybe old people are too fond of the semicolon etc. but we’ve earned it. I believe much of what gets written about the aging wants either to let the young believe the process isn’t hard or to create clickbait for those of olds still hoping for insight. I

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How ChatGPT Thinks Jane Austen Would Wish You A Nice Weekend, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:33am

I understand and even celebrate that it’s possible to feel contented with the domestic life. However, the actuality seems to escape me. Simplicity, repetition, silence—not my strong points. Which is not to say I am unhappy. I’m talking about the emotional state of the time I spend alone in my house, because I can’t knit and can consume only so many cups of tea. While a great book will appease me, I would need an unending stream of them to find contentment. I can’t complain. I mean, I can, but I understand that it’s not necessary. As compensation for such general mental squirminess, I find a near-ecstasy in the

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For The First Time In 28 Years, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:35am

I went camping! I exclaim because it felt completely new. I haven’t camped anywhere since my son’s kindergarten class organized a weekend for all the families. It was lovely. He turned 33 in April. So. My first time was the summer before my senior year of high school, as participating in Outward Bound was part of the requirements for graduation. Talk about starting at the advanced level. I cried a lot. The second was with a boyfriend, one night by the side of a trail that had proved too difficult for me. The kindergarten trip was the third try. Not a camper! At least until now. And I

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Gleeful Dressing, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:10am

(and yes I did publish this early, but hey, the political news is pretty grim and at least we have each other) We probably all have outfits that make us gleeful, sometimes even if strictly speaking one might do it better. This week one day I found myself in three autumn colors, mustard, chocolate, a darkened green, just as summer began. The proportions of the 10-year old forest green Superegas were not quite right; I would have liked a thicker sole. But still, fall in summer thrilled my subversive aesthetic soul and close-fitting top/widest pants are my jam. (In actuality, we want want to do the opposite of

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Chaptering, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:59am

To what extent does living a life resemble writing a book? How’s that for a tiny, precise, yes-or-no question on a Saturday morning? Booyah. (tl;dr layers+iterations, drafting+editing.  a distillation a cover blurb) The other week I was sitting with a group of people who have deep experience in loss, and life, and one of them said she has learned to think in terms of new life chapters. I heard her with that certain ping inspired by valuable new ideas. “Oh yes,” I thought, “That’s what I’m doing.” I tend to resist facile similes, clichés, platitudes. But having spent much of the past five years writing two books, the process

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Cheap(ish) Dress, Not-Cheap Shoes, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:30am

Thursday night, I went to the theater. That wasn’t me on the stage. This was, in front of a clothes hanger hanging on my shoe closet. That closet might deserve its own Instagram account except that these days nothing much changes inside it. This is the navy blue sheath I wore to both my mother’s and my father’s memorial services. Time enough has passed. From that selfsame closet I dug out a pair of slingbacks that hadn’t seen the light of day since I bought them six years ago, and added simple platinum drop bead earrings that are hiding in my hair. A sunburst of crystals, a kitten

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Delicious Books About Family Three Ways, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:42am

In pursuit of understanding how to write genre fiction, I have read very much of it these past few years. I now know that I like any fiction, as long as it’s well written. Give me an ordinary tale well told over an extraordinary tale poorly done, any day. I also now know that books about families are a thing unto themselves. Here are three books I’ve read and liked recently, from found family to extended nuclear, from robustly commercial to memorably literary (defined in my own particular taxonomy by how much of the experienced story and meaning is on the page, and how much is off). Commercial=On

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When Sturdy Gals Think Back, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:12am

One of the things about being 66 is memories. Flocks and layers. We the older humans perhaps discovered palimpsests, rather than the art historians who own the concept now. There are memories that surface as fragments of events, vivid. The feel of the skin on my mother’s cheekbones, my unfettered happiness the day of my second wedding, the smell of Sea and Ski sunscreen, my best friend’s phone greeting, the first night in the hospital with my daughter after her birth, the sound of my son’s cries and quieting in his plastic bassinet 7 hours after he was born in the selfsame place. One beach in Barbados. There

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There’s Nothing Quite Like Linen Dresses In Summertime, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:30am

Remember this dress? Well, I pretty much lived in it last summer. The linen floats, you can curl up on a sofa without a thigh reveal, and the color made me feel like I am the kind of person who travels on a whim to Morocco. Which I am not. Recently, Grae Cove got in touch to ask if I’d like two more dresses to review, as well a discount code for my readers. Reader, as we say, I did. Witness Georgina (same dress as I have in Caramel) in Ocean Blue, my favorite color in the entire universe. I’m grinning because I like it so much. A

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Three Gold Chains And A Great Big Outfit, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:39am

Sometimes I think I watch overmuch TV. That’s Jennifer Garner, above, in The Last Thing She Told Me. I love Garner as a presence on my screen. I was enthralled by The Diplomat, with Keri Russell and David Gyasi. Classic, classic binge watch. And did we know from the git-go what a cultural phenomena Succession would become, and how much of its appeal, like White Lotus, is perhaps pre-conditioned by the brilliant soundtrack and then reinforced by editing? I would think Sarah Snook might find it painful to play Siobhan Roy. But I would most likely be wrong. When I watch these shows with strong women main characters

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If Shonda Rhimes Had “Coronated” Charles, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:47am

I’ve never understood American’s fascination with the British royalty. While all countries enjoy ritual — we have the Met Gala, and the NBA All-Star game after all — why so much interest in London’s variety? Doesn’t seem to be political, as one of my avowed socialist acquaintances is the most fervent fan I know. In any case, I’m neither a historian nor a sociologist and therefore have no particularly insightful, well, insights into the phenomena. But I’ve been watching Queen Charlotte, the most recent of the Bridgerton series. Absent overt analysis, without any spoilers for your Netflix experience, let me present my interpretation of today’s coronation fashions. In

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Gone Hiking

As it turns out, I am leaving the house very early this morning to go for a hike with some Princeton classmates. It’s part of my Meet More People Nearby project. I have one post in the works on jewelry, and another on summer dresses, but for today I give you forest and seawater from other hikes and walks in the Bay Area. I hope your local world, human and otherwise, piney or salt, treats you well today. Have a wonderful weekend.

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White Flowers In The Front Yard On A Spring Morning, Or, Saturday at 8:29am

Boo-yah for Spring! My front yard is preparing for the yearly white rose display. In May those bushes you see between the white iris-shaped flowers in the foreground (they are irises, surprise!), and the tall bush in the back covered with what look like snowballs (it’s a snowball viburnum, surprise!), will do their cosseted rose thing. For now, I poke around what’s growing in the early morning light. The empty spot on the fence used to support a climbing rose. But the conjunction of its dark red petals and chartreuse viburnum leaves reminded me of Christmas so I took it out. BTW, there’s a young magnolia to the

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What If Dianne Feinstein Was Your Mother? Or, Saturday Morning at 8:29am

As you may know, Dianne Feinstein is one of California’s two senators. As you may also know, she’s 89, reportedly suffering from pretty severe short-term memory loss, and recovering from a case of shingles. She hasn’t attended Senate votes since February-ish. As a result, a California congressman, Ro Khanna, called for her to resign. What do we think? The public discussion includes setting age limits in Congress, the need for Gen X representation, and all the insults you might imagine. I wonder, what if Feinstein were my mom? As you may also know, my mother died of Alzheimer’s in 2019, having first shown undeniable signs of memory loss–that

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Skincare At 66.5, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:45am

Some can’t resist new shoes. Some collect lipsticks, small coral tubes of cheer in a drawer. Me, skincare. Love it. I am made nearly unruly by Sephora’s “Bazaar,” for example, that program whereby if you sign up and buy stuff they give you more stuff. Since at the moment I’m quite happy with the products on my bathroom countertop, I thought I might share them with you. No, I don’t put them away. They make me happy, why would I? Cleaning Both Sue at Une Femme and Alison at Wardrobe Oxygen recommend Colleen Rothschild’s Cleansing Balm, so I tried it. What a joy (shipping is very slow, but

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When To Break And When To Embrace, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:52am

Words don’t link sound directly to import, of their own accord. That’s down to us humans. But enough self-evident abstraction. Also known as, “Yeah, so?” Take, “senior citizen,” often truncated to simply, “senior.” Which is what I am at 66 here in the USA. It would be silly to deny that I’m getting older, but I have resisted the appellation. For one thing, I’m still a renegade in my heart. Seniors should surely shouldn’t feel everything as strongly as I do. For another, I walk fast. But also, I haven’t wanted to take unfair advantage of discounts and programs offered to those who need them. Well, as it

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At The Edge Of Seawater, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:30am

From inside out. And outside in. I love an estuary. When is it water and when is it dirt? When an ocean, when a marsh and when a river? When is that sound you hear wind rushing through treetops, when a full creek running? One might even say, we are all each other. When we love someone we permeate each other at the margins, the edges. What I mean is that my husband and I stayed at the most wonderful local place last month. Nick’s Cove, in Marshall, California, just up from Pt. Reyes Station. I cannot imagine a more perfect view. It’s as though I’d invented the moon for

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Still Here, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:55am

I quite like the redwood hue of this shirt (J. Crew), and the coffee-color of the pants (Eileen Fisher) and loafers (Paul Green). To say nothing of the light as it falls on my old wood floor. But none of that is probably worth a blog post per se. To be worth posting, I’d want to add a jacket, maybe a scarf.  To be be honest I just haven’t found the perfect brown topper for these warm-toned outfits, and my only possible scarf has black in it too. My color sense abhors a black with brown and that redwood. I can’t say why. All ideas welcome, for both

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Shouting Out Our Friends, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:14am

Let’s revisit the age-old practice of a Shout Out. Remember? Remember always making sure we supported our Internet friends and colleagues? Why yes, I do get nostalgic for the halcyon days of blogging, back when we were all journaling in public and the twin towers of monetization and ego production hadn’t yet cast their long shadows. (I hasten to add, as I have said before, I actually enjoy the monetized blogs/influencers I follow, Une Femme, Emily Henderson, Northern California Style, Carmeon Hamilton, etc. The weight of industry has not distorted their aesthetic or voice one whit. And I use monetized links myself, sometimes, as the service I belong

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Novelty In What We Know Already, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:58am

On a scale of love for novelty, 1-5, I’d put myself at a 4, even though I’ve lived in the same house for 35 years. This long stay has been one of circumstance, but in 1982 nobody went to India by themselves for more of the same, and the trip was a choice. However, when we’re young, novelty requires the actual new. Good thing about our 60s is we can do things we’ve done before and they can feel new. Sometimes because 15 years have passed.   I spent last week with my daughter skiing in Park City, Utah. To be precise, she skied and I slid down hills

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Wednesday News: Saturday’s Post Should Be Coming To You From A New Site

  Hello all. If things go as expected, Saturday’s post should look different. Recognizable, but different. Most importantly, comments should work and mobile devices should be supported. If you happen to read this via a feed reader, like Feedly, you may need to change the blog address you’ve been using. We shall see! Also, I went skiing. Details to follow.  

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Last Week For Patrick Carroll’s Los Angeles Gallery Show, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:55pm

First things first, as I want you to see this show if you are so inclined. My son’s gallery exhibition, “Reading,” runs through next Saturday the 25th of February. Giovanni’s Room 850 S Broadway Suite 600, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (9th and Broadway) Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm 310-985-1983 Now’s the time. We always like our kids’ stuff, true, but I was surprised (briefly stunned) by how much I liked the works in person. I’d loved them on Patrick’s Instagram account, sure, but walls are not phone screens. Those who spend lots of time in galleries should feel free to say now, “Duh.” In person, these pieces break the consciousness’s usual

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And After Color We Want What, Or, Saturday Morning at 12:42am

Even I tire of wistful musing on the meaning of life. Instead, let’s wonder what we might wear when the weather warms. In your case this might be spring, although in my neck of the woods we just take off our jackets come March or April, all “Fare-thee-well, winter!” but don’t switch out wardrobes altogether ’til summer. I’m thinking all white. I have no idea why. I lied. I do have an idea. Maybe this year we need to reflect light. To beam. No matter how many windows, inside is always darker than out, and we might be looking forward to the out-of-doors, more free as the pandemic

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Green In The Fog, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:47am

It’s foggy here. My daphne with its lemon-sweet smell is in full flower. Small catkins and tiny cones hang from the tall alder in the middle of our back lawn. They’re pale green; the branches red-brown; leaves just budding. This spring the pale pink and white hellebores nigh-on burgeon. And yes I say spring because in California although a frost may yet come, the season starts soon. February, when it all begins in my neighborhood, is almost upon us. The roses are pruned, viburnum flowering, ferns unfurling a frond or two. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a full 56 of my 66 years, I

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Elasticity, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:57am

This is how you know we’re friends. That’s my sweatshirt, those are my sweatpants, and yes, my dilapidated slippers (on sale here for 25% off). (Also a shoe closet with pearl-studded booties gleaming goldly.) All, my friends, is not glamor. You know that already. It does feels new to have proven to myself that I dress solely for comfort. Comfort in its more expansive form. By this I mean, well, back when I was meeting the man who blogged as Reggie Darling, and with his husband, at a tony East Side restaurant in New York City, comfort was Prada or nada. In that case comfort was social; appeasing the High

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January Wet And Dry, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:05am

I can tell you exactly the point where drinking less alcohol did it for me: no more two days/week, no more than a total of four glasses/week. The tipping point. Right there I started sleeping better, I could let a night or two go by without missing it, and, funnily enough, more than two glasses made me feel terrible. As long-time readers know, I’ve been cutting back on drinking for many years. Fifteen, to be precise. I don’t want to stop altogether, but have been determined to retool a bad habit that was this close to disaster. At one point I drank 2-3 glasses of wine a night. In

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So Then What Happened, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:07am

Well hello! I am still the same person I was on December 31st, albeit even more bemused by America’s political shenanigans. You? Let’s talk about what’s next. Not in politics, I would not even aspire to predict where that’s going, and anyway I don’t plan to do anything different. I’ll just keep on donating, writing voter letters, and reading the newspapers and professorial/professional commentary who know better. In terms of my own teeny-tiny sandbox, here’s what’s up: Continuing: Spanish classes resume next week. Our teacher is Argentinian; I am expecting a great discussion of the World Cup victory when next we meet. Grief counseling. I still have not

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Over-The-Top, Gold, Pearl-Ornamented Booties Worn 3 Ways, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:42am

Happy almost-New Gregorian Year! I have finished 2022 by doing as one of you suggested, i.e. buying and wearing a pair of pearl-ornamented gold leather booties. What? You say I cannot blame this on you all? I beg to differ. Nancy, thank you. So, if, and I get it’s a big “if,” but IF if you’re going to get yourself a pair of gold boots you have to wear them as much as possible. Rules are rules. My family spent the Christmas weekend at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay. I’ve been there before you may remember, more than once. We had a really nice time. The weather was

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If It’s Your First Time Hosting Christmas, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:56am

Yesterday, as I strung lights around our tree, a task I loathe, it occurred to me that I must have been the Christmas grownup at least 30 times in my life. Which is to say, either hosting at my house, or in charge of a big chunk at my mother’s. (As I’m not Superwoman, I’m sure I outsourced it more than once, hence 30 even though my oldest child is now 35.) To heck with metrics. I said yesterday, as I taped over a broken bulb, “I finally know how to do this.” In sum: A Christmas Veteran Tells You What She Wishes She Had Known 30 Years

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Knees Touching/Words In The Air, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:58am

The other night I went to a remembrance ceremony held by the grief counseling organization where I’ll be volunteering. So close on the heels of my father’s service, I couldn’t help but look for patterns. The mind grinds when faced with inexplicable, upper case. My father’s service was, through absolutely no efforts of my own so there is no boast here, a work of art. The professors were brilliant, but everyone was eloquent or witty or original or provocative or narrated history with thought and care. Or, last box in the list, all of the above.The shared remembrance service was mostly much simpler in speech and concept. But

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Minimalism +/-, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:30am

Time to think about clothes for Christmas. Only me? In any case, back in the early 90s I bought a dark brown columnar silk and rayon velvet dress by Harriet Selwyn. Still have it. Still fits, mas o meno. I’ve been wanting to wear it again, but it had ripped in the back. I had it mended. Brilliant! And I really wanted to wear these gold boots avec. (Yes, we are mixing our Romance languages, and why not, we might ask?) Minimal with a hit of kapow. But, when I retrieved the dress from the seamstress and tried it on with the shoes, nope. Boo. They were even

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The Art Of Recovery, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:30am

I slept in this morning, and have dawdled through the day. I will not recover this time, but it’s in my belly or maybe behind my eyes. Time: unrecoverable, but embodied. Anyway, I meant to be talking about the quiet after a holiday, or during for that matter, in the face of the absolute fungal chaos of these last few years. I use the term “fungal” to mean connected underground, flying through the air, and popping up where you least expect it. Inexact, but hey, we’re all friends here. Wow it’s been a hard time. I am deeply thankful for every moment of okayness. Thanksgiving this year was

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My Father’s Memorial Service, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:01am

Today is my father’s memorial service. I thought of posting what I will read, but, no. I thought of showing you what I’ll wear, but, definitely no. It won’t be pink? Is that sufficient? Memorial services are, for me, already a particular straddle between public and private. My temperament lends itself either to intimate gatherings of wholehearted sharing, or public events where we communicate ideas about Topics with a capital T. A service is neither and both. I loved my father like a map of the world. I knew him for a very long time. In a rare act of restraint, I’m going to stop before I’m done. Have

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Scamp Style, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:15am

I was asked a couple of weeks ago what I wear to the market. Good question, not because going to the market is a big style opp per se, but it is something most of us must do. The Eileen Fisher pants are for dinners out. In the house I wear sweatpants and sweatshirt. I have quite the collection by now. For exercise, i.e. walking fast with an audiobook playing in my ear, or doing various physical therapy squirming, I wear yoga tights. Occasionally those slip into my errands, but only because it’s that or no exercise for the day. So to the market we go and it

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Weight-Bearing, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:26am

Diagnosed with my fifth type of tendinitis in nine years, I suspected something other than oops was in play. Meaning, nobody serially injures their biceps tendon, Achilles, outer elbow, thumb and both knee tendons unless they are a high-powered athlete. I am not. Sure, I’m getting older, but it felt suspiciously as though my body were ticking in distress around something, like the hands of a clock. I have a useful nugget, if you can bear with me through a few hundred words. I began to ask for help. Such a brilliant strategy. So many of us neglect to do this, seduced by our own competence. Just me?

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Where To Stay The Third Time You Come To San Francisco, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:14am

The next time you come to San Francisco, you might not want to stay here. By which I don’t mean arms-crossed-in-an-X, get-the-heck-out-of-Dodge kind of way, I mean essay a slightly different perspective. Essay used as a verb is our unusual word of the day. For my birthday weekend we stayed at Cavallo Point, just across the San Francisco Bay via the Golden Gate Bridge. Doesn’t get much more iconic than this. Cavallo Point isn’t a place for city thrills, urban hills, or glamor. It sits in the Fort Baker National Park, and several of its buildings were original to the fort itself. The history is here. Complex, as is

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Small Things To Large, Or, Saturday Morning At 10:40am

This morning I was briefly seized by the spirit of my mother. I am happy to report that, yes, in fact, I do have all the bedding required to house people in our second guest room. Took me a few minutes to find everything, as it was scattered around my closets. That has been rectified. Something you hear a lot in women’s writing is the joy of simple things, or small things. Small things make me unhappy, unless they can be expanded one way or another. Some background. Small motor work explodes my nervous system; knitting, calligraphy, screwdrivers. But gross motor work is a tonic. I can hammer

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Brown Pants, Brown Shoes, And More Than One Top, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:36am

I did some shopping in September. That’s a photo I took recently to text to a friend. Feet up! I’d asked her about brown thick-soled lace-ups that weren’t boots like my Timberlands, and she said “Grensons” and I listened. Just had to show her the results. Backing up. As I’m sure you remember, in July I took advantage of my friend Sue’s color analysis services pre-launch and found out my skin is well-suited by warm, dusty tones. AKA Autumn colors. (I don’t say I “am” an Autumn, because I believe I can also wear cool dusty tones, but let’s just say the door has opened wider to browns, tans,

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September, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:43am

Well, hello:) Feels a little boisterous to hit you with my face right away, but it’s a nice photo and I was really having fun and I hope that’s infectious. When you come back from a trip, do you unpack everything right away, restoring order, or do you wheel your suitcase inside, prop it against a wall, and read your mail? I’m the second sort. Please consider this post the sound of the wheels of my roller board, clunkity, clunkity, across the floor. I’ll unpack next week. For now, here’s a list of what I did in September. If my comments are even remotely functional, and you feel

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Handing Over The September Baton, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:29am

Good morning! It’s September, a month for which I have a particular fondness. The 30th is my birthday. Hooray for me! (Excuse me, if aging can’t give us permission to celebrate ourselves, what gives, universe?) As Sue and Frances return, I will in turn take a month off. Not that we planned this, not that I’ve even informed them of my thinking, but hey, we’re all friends here. Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy the week. Enjoy the month. Today I am excited about life.

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My New Favorite Piece Of Clothing And It’s Not Navy Blue, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:24am

A few weeks back, in our conversation about color, I mentioned ordering this dress. Elle est arrivée. (Details: I ordered a Medium, I could have gotten a Small. But I don’t mind the over-sized look.) It took a long time to get here, as it turns out the company just started up, ships from China and has been more enthusiastically received than the founders predicted, but the brand was good about communicating via Instagram. I now feel more fondness than I have for a piece of clothing in a very long time. Tere’s a picture of the seaming at the bodice. Also the veins on my hands, but

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What We Might Plan, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:24am

Planning. This summer, exhausted and gritty–as are we all after 2+ years of pandemic–and determined to See People, I made plans. First, Princeton reunions with my son. Then Laguna Beach with good friends. Then a long weekend in LA, where Sue worked with me on a color palette for my skin tone (so much more precise than having my colors “done,” don’t you think?”) And on that same long weekend, I spent time with my two kids. My son, who lives in LA now, found us an Airbnb in Silver Lake; my daughter flew down from the Pacific Northwest. This place was way cooler than me, that’s for sure. There

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Temperate Glimmers Of Hope, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:13am

Note: If you were intrigued by the Grae Cove dress I posted about last week, I want to let you know they tell me they are getting a lot of orders and it’s now taking them about 10 days to ship out. Transit time is extra. That said, they’ve been responsive to my inquiries, so I am looking forward to showing you the dress when it arrives. I’m wondering how you are feeling about the bill that’s on its way to President Biden’s desk. Officially named (in an example of political absurdity, the results of which in this case I do not object but still, please, come on) the Inflation

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Points Of Exploration, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:10am

I wanted to expand a little on having Sue “do” my colors. (Are things like this ever “done?” No, no they are not. They are examined and explored.) I had developed a core set of colors that look good on me. But how much navy and cognac can one woman wear? I wanted a better sense of which ordinal points would best guide me in going beyond dark blue. And I was making one very wrong assumption, now that kept landing me in lavender, all bilious and everything. I thought that looking good in blue meant I should wear cool colors, whereas in fact there are dozens of “navies”

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No Need To Get Big For Your Britches Missy, Or, Saturday Morning 8:01am

I started to call this post Banishing Arrogance, but multi-syllable words are a poor way to avoid that pride/fall thing. Let’s try this: I’m working on understanding that I don’t know what I don’t know. Bit of background, in which “you” should be read as “I.” If you deconstruct your way through a complex problem once, your mind might be dumb enough to decide that wasn’t just luck, and sneaky enough to whisper, “I’ve got your back,” in hopes of future world domination. Spoiler: not 100% reliable. So, recently I’ve reopened the door to topics I had thought I understood. Can I just say that humility is hard? First, I’m

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Rediscovering Imagination, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:23am

Right after I finish this blog post, I’m going to upload a PDF of my in-process second novel to a service that will send it out to three “beta” readers. In other words, three people who like this kind of book and don’t know me in the slightest will read it. They will then give feedback, which I will read. Then I will know more than I know now. I have “finished” two novels. Hilarious. Because what is “finished?” For my first novel, finished meant I wrote it, friends read it, I edited it, got into a critique group, edited it again, queried ~25 agents, and realized that

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A Jaunt, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:54am

I have gone South, to spend the weekend with dear girlfriends. We are staying in a suite. The past 24 hours have been full of  joy, and opportunities to understand that people always have something new to reveal, even when you’ve known them forever. Maybe I mean that relationships are infinite. It’s good thing we leave so much of our brains unused, because it’s like having an extra closet that you can open up when needed, to make room for new perspectives. Here’s where we are staying. Orange County is not the Bay Area. Although apparently we do share summer coastal fog. Generally I don’t find a snack

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Walk Like An Optimist, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:56am

Recently I read this article in the Washington Post, Why Optimists Live Longer than the Rest of Us. Briefly, it made a good case that optimists fare well, and took a stab at why this is so. Some excerpts: …the(se) results remained even after accounting for other factors known to predict a long life — including education level and economic status, ethnicity and whether a person suffered from depression or other chronic health conditions. …The latest study found that lifestyle only accounted for 24 percent of the link between optimism and longevity, which suggests a number of other factors affect longevity for optimists. …Another possible reason could be

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Trucker Jacket And Chanel Flats, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:27am

While I don’t care much for the term, “date night,” I’m quite fond of the phenomena itself and am therefore prepared to Move On from High WASP disdain. Which is a good approach to life in general. Anyway. We went out to dinner last weekend. I wore a black Madewell denim jacket (cuffs folded back because a little wrist action makes a fab accessory), a white ribbed UNIQLO tee, cropped Eileen Fisher lantern pants, cap-toe Chanel ballerina flats, and the Loewe Flamenco bag. All from years past, except the bag. (Yes, both those pairs of hiking boots in the background are mine. If you see me taking a

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Floodlight On The Unexamined Center, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:57am

It wasn’t a good night for sleep. If I could write about anything other than the United States’ Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, I would. But I have two reactions I haven’t seen anywhere else, so here goes. Feel free to click away. It is all too much, and the last thing I want is to be a burden. If you’re online these days, you already know marginalized women will suffer most, you understand the costs society will face–economic and other– from no-exemption bans, and you see the irony in our how we treat children in our healthcare, guns, and immigration policies. You know to donate

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News! Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

Tomorrow night in Milan the JW Anderson show will feature an installation of my son’s clothing/art. The announcement is here. That was a really great sentence to write. Understatement. Jonathan Anderson is an astonishing creator. He designs the JW Anderson and all of Loewe too.He collaborates with UNIQLO. He’s on the board of the Victoria and Albert museum, and has birthed so many other projects I can’t even hold them all in my mind at the same time. Including generous and sustained support for emerging artists and small businesses. Here are a couple of things from the JW Anderson women’s line. The “Bumper” bag, Moon variant. Comes in

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Life Is Just A Bowl But Not Cherries, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:12am

I’m prone to unprovoked swells of joy. Have been all my life. Probably a side effect of a nervous system that makes me anxious, and has over time caused me to erupt when I might have wished to keep my own counsel. A booby prize. The thing is, these swells had always been brought on by novelty, or at least complete immersion in my surroundings until recently. Now I find that just remembering events of my life can do the same. Is this weird? Huge swells of joy. I mean, it applies even to the painful. The sheer fact that I have lived through it, that this time

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Tiaras And Timberlands, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:12am

Not literal tiaras. We’ll let other countries put jewels on their heads. But a neck tiara, well, yes. Remember the necklace Wendy Brandes made for me? Remember the discussion about how to wear it? One answer: as though it’s nothing special despite all evidence to the contrary. See, I was going to dinner with some former colleagues, but I wanted to walk to the restaurant. So, Timberlands. If Timberlands, these old Citizen of Humanity jeans are the only pants I have that are narrow, comfortable at the seat, and not wholly ridiculous with working boots. If COH jeans, must elevate, somehow. Enter Wendy’s necklace. I also wore these

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Why Would Anyone Wear This, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:21am

Why on earth would anyone wear this? I don’t know. My excuse is that last weekend I attended my 44th Class Reunion at Princeton, and absurd costumes are part of our tradition. Behold the glorious details. Another question. Why would anyone go to a gathering of 35,000+ people in the trailing days of a global pandemic? I don’t know. I went because for the past couple of years I’ve worked with members of our class on programmed Zoom events, and I wanted to finally meet my colleagues-become-friends in person. Besides, my son was there. Here are a few of his classmates in their 10th Reunion costumes. I am

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One Of The Most Beautiful House Designs I’ve Ever Seen, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:22am

I will be surprised if there are many of you who don’t already follow Amy Beth Cupp on Instagram. You are people of taste. But her eye is so wonderful, her work so compelling, I’ll post this for you and we who are already familiar won’t mind. That’s her kitchen above. Those are checkerboard marble floors and walnut cabinets, but that’s also just the beginning. Amy has been redesigning and renovating her house in northwest Connecticut for a while. A longish while, given COVID. She’s now about to move in. And I find her design(s) to be remarkable both singularly (the flow and use pattern of the house), and

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Mothers’ Day, Or, Saturday Morning At 10:44am

I am finally the mother of adult children. I mean, that’s been technically true for over a decade, if 21 marks an adult. But it’s only now, my son having turned 32 in April and my daughter heading toward 35 in July, that they feel like full-on grownups to me. What I mean is that they have the cognitive and emotional structures of beings to whom I would turn for friendship. Even counsel. And yet I imagine that I am for them, as my mother was for me, a bringer of memories and the comfort that comes before thinking, nestled in among the adult conversations. It’s been a

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The Great Charm Of A World Beyond Blue, Or Saturday Morning at 10:05am

Two years and a couple of months ago I bought a little ice blue wristlet pouch from Hobo. Quite loved it. Good for dashing out of the car, packing into a tote for the single flight I’ve taken in this time, etc. However, as I have moved away from jeans (forever known now as “hard pants) to Eileen Fisher and her forgiving elastic waists, I’ve felt my style quotient fall. I cannot give up the desire to present as someone a little quirky, a little artistic, perhaps prone to indulgence. Also tough but squishy. Perhaps because I am all of the above. Style for me has always been

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In Which We Shadow Our Seeing, or, Saturday Morning at 9:58 AM

How is it that in all this time of masks, the only type of makeup I’ve worn has been tinted sunscreen and lip balms. Nobody sees either. Foolishness? Denial? An abiding love of printing my lips on the inside of PPE? Mysteries of selfhood. But let’s talk eyeshadow. For context, consider that I hope to take a few little trips this summer. They will by both necessity and good fortune involve meeting with people. I’m still masking, and plan to do so until Long COVID is figured out. Hence, eye makeup. Given that we’ve been locked up for two years, all my old stuff is now somewhere in

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Happy Green Things, Or, Saturday Morning At 9:56 am

One thing about living in the same house for 35 years is exquisite familiarity with what it looks like at particular and specific times of the year. I have always said that if I were to sell this place, I’d do it at Easter. Please excuse the venality. It’s a convenient way of saying, “Wow, everything sure looks beautiful today. Might even be the most beautiful day of the year.” The flowers in the ground are happy. The flowers in the pots are happy. I don’t believe they know that they’ll be replaced, in the not too far distant future, by something orange. Maybe zinnias. Happy for now.

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Is “Severance” What Life In A Corporation Is Really Like, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:29am

I’ve recently watched a spate of television about corporate power. Having survived adventures in corporate life myself, it’s impossible not to deconstruct. There must be a million possible axes for this, but what if we look at How Real The Show Is, and How Much Does It Hate/Love Its World? (Actually I’m writing this because a lot of people are talking about Severance and I have Something to Say but I have to set it up first. As true as I can make this for you, my friends.) A List Of Shows With One-Word Titles About Big Corporations Billions (Realism: low except architecture/great staircase; H/L: loves its simple

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The Enduring Joy Of Neutrals, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:54am

Contrary to what you might with reason assume, this is not a post about why my heads looks so big, nor on how I need a haircut to prevent the dreaded Pinhead Ponytail, nor, (but thanks for asking) am I updating you on my tendonitis and arm brace. No my friends, this is another panegyric to the joy of layered neutrals. I’m wearing a tan corduroy jacket from Société Anonyme (brand. I love the spot-print t-shirt dress), a black ribbed UNIQLO tee, Eileen Fisher lantern pants (not the cropped ones) in Graphite, and Chanel captoe ballerinas (pre-owned). Below, some outfits you’ve seen before. 2011. That’s over a decade

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Let’s Just Say Tuesday, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:03am

I am sure I have told you that the women in my family enjoy, and are generally good at, making group decisions. To the point where one of us was nicknamed by her loving husband, “Plannerina.” We all like to review information, just deeply enough, mind you, as to see patterns emerge. We enjoy sourcing others’ opinions, albeit quickly so as to maintain a glorious momentum towards the Time for Action When Nattering Has Ceased. One could say that we have liked to take the reins. But the pandemic has brought a secondary epidemic of I Don’t Care You Decide, accompanied by her craven handmaiden, Oh To Heck

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A Sortie In Bona Fide Clothing, or, Saturday Morning at 10:33am

I’ve been out to dinner the past two nights. This feels remarkable. Here in the Bay Area, we are experiencing a few halcyon days of COVID, i.e. cases down and good weather for outdoor eating. I’m living in the moment. Which meant, unsurprisingly, I also had to put clothes on. From last night. Eileen Fisher cropped lantern pants in Barley (I also own Black and Graphite, size XS), Gucci Princetown slides of several years back, arm brace, the Doubt knit top by PatSport, and a decades-old Hello Kitty necklace by Kimora Lee Stevens. Remember frivolity? Later I added my black UNIQLO down jacket to go with the slides

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Sorrow As Substance, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:31am

Although I don’t want to write much about death (not having a large enough spirit to embrace the idea) I was thinking. Sadness on the loss of a loved one, when they were ready and clear, is different than grief over someone who left in other circumstances. Not brilliant, but deeply felt. I mourn the loss of my father. I loved him very much. He was with me all my life, and in the last few years became one of my closer companions. But he was 91, and clear and ready. That loss feels like sad water; a pool in a forest, reflecting light. My best friend died

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More Annoying Garden Lessons, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:44am

When new is scarce, gotta find surprise in the old. Last November I divided the last clump of daffodils from bulbs I planted over 30 years ago. The others had died and this one had just about stopped blooming. So I separated and replanted. And forgot. When the green tips pushed up, I thought, “Oh no! They’ll never flower. I didn’t water!” Lo and behold, they didn’t care. I imagine them wiggling daffodil toes in new dirt. Last year I planted a manzanita shrub in front of this Fountain o’ Phormium. When the pink manzanita flowers showed up this year, I thought, “Hey, they match the hellebore.” Then

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Nigh-Fingerless Speech, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:00am

Today I am writing with my voice. This is not easy. However, if you think about it, there’s not a lot of ease in the world right now. So, since community matters, I am sitting on my sofa engaged in the complex cognitive task of talking in such a way as to be legible. Phew. In the end, I’m always glad to learn something new in a way that lets me feel that I still can meet the world as a young person. Wait. My mind may meet the world like a young person. My elbow would like to sit down. I am on strict arm rest for

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A 200-Word Challenge, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:09am

Here’s something new. Through the end of March, I’m writing 200-word blog posts. No more; less if needs be. I’m not usually one for challenges (excepting Dry January, which matters). For example, I’ve never poured a tub of ice water over my head. But: I have persistent and unruly tendonitis of the elbow. “Tennis elbow,” as they call it, although I haven’t picked up a tennis racket since I was 11. It’s hard to type at length. My father died not quite a month ago. I write these Saturday posts on the day they are published, about whatever crosses my mind or has bubbled up in the past

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Two Shows For The Times, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:36am

It’s hard to know, these days, the role of hope, and if hope is appropriate, where? I don’t have the answers. However, I do have two television shows for you that address the question, from absolute opposite corners of the conceptual universe. On the one hand, zoom. On the other, LOL. First, Snowpiercer. Seasons One and Two are on HBO. Three, currently in progress, can be seen on TNT. Think Season 11 post-apocalyptic (except more bad guys) meets Speed (except on a train not a bus). Seriously, seven years after climate change causes an unprecedented Ice Age, human beings sustain life by riding on a train that never

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The Eternal Bliss of the Great Pacific, Or, Saturday Morning at 9am

My husband and I spent Thanksgiving last year, which now seems like a long time ago but wasn’t, at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. This was a serious splurge; it is also perhaps the most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed, so if it’s possible, on balance, worth it. (A few notes on chipping away at cost/value–join iPrefer, use the American Express Platinum, drive a Lexus, become a repeat guest. Also, nearby Ventana is a Hyatt hotel, so, points, and Deetjens, less expensive, looks pretty cool. Big Sur is a wonder.) The first thing that happened was they upgraded us to a house. Yikes. It had a

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And In Conclusion, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:58am

So, my dad died early Monday morning. I wanted to tell you now, not to make a fuss, but because I’d told you it was coming. And because I wanted to thank you all for reading, some of you for years and years. Some of you, a decade. I am so grateful to have a community built on words. If I had to tell you how I’m feeling, which I don’t, I know, but I will, I come to write here every Saturday because I love the process of making and finding meaning with words. And that process, in my life, came from (was inspired by? is a

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Brief, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:34am

My father, known here and beloved as Professor C., is in his last days. Eventually, when it’s written, I’ll post his obituary. Soon, I hope to be back as your usual friend and Saturday morning company. For now, if you’d like to read my father’s writing, you can search for Professor C. in the search box to the right, and I think his posts will come up. See you all soon. Lisa

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What I Did To My Doors In The Pandemic, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:45am

There are those who have made their houses more beautiful in the pandemic. Before we begin today’s exegesis, let me direct you to Northern California Style. I get happily lost in Kim’s aesthetic; it soothes me and delights me on sight. Her blog is here. Now, back to Mrs. Serious AKA me. I need to show you two tiny projects. They gave me joy in the process. Which is by way of saying, they’re infinitely more personal than presentable. My sister gave me a doorstop for Christmas, as I had asked. It was beautiful; marble with leather strap. Then I painted it. Why, you may wonder? Because it’s

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Princesses Of Our Own Lives, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:13am

Happy 2022! Shall we begin with a searing re-examination of life and meaning in these times? Or, instead, a teeny jaunt through the re-making of shiny stuff? I thought so. Over the years I had accumulated a lot of unworn jewelry. But even though I kept it locked up, I felt it. A gold chain from my college boyfriend. A pearl from my stepsister at her wedding. A bracelet from a friend I no longer speak to. My first engagement ring, sapphire and two pear-shaped diamonds, from a now-closed jeweler in San Francisco. A white gold and diamond bracelet from my husband. Bits and bobs of metal and

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In The Deep Midwinter, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:56am

‘Tis  the season of flickering lights, whether you celebrate a major winter holiday, a minor one, or only a short line of squares on the endless digital calendar. We acknowledge darkness during Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, and on to the Lunar New Year. Then, ostensibly, we find hope. Which can be hard to find, but also very hard to do without. This week I have in fact felt hopeful. Today I wanted to recognize the women, albeit not by name, who are giving me hope. I hasten to add, it’s not that men never give me hope; they have, they do, they will. But today, Spero in mulieribus I

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Hiking (And Taking Steps) At 65, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:26am

My longtime primary care physician retired this past April, so I met with a new one, just to say hi. We talked about the thises and thats of health, but I had one specific question. I wondered, how I am doing for my age? These various waning capacities, are they to be expected and accepted, or addressed and mitigated? I told her I got tired in the afternoons, and that sometimes just hurrying about making myself a cup of tea winded me. Was this terrible? “Ah, no,” she said, or something of the sort, “You are simply deconditioned.” Deconditioned! What a great idea. For surely what has been de-

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Is This Common Knowledge, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:58am

Toward the goal of dimming my unwarranted distresses to the glow of one–probably–orange bulb I’ve been thinking about “being in the moment.” I understand that living in the past makes you sad, and living in the future, afraid. I appreciate the freedom of a zen flash of naked consciousness. I like the clarity of our senses. But I’ve been practicing something lately, with maybe a different perspective on time and self? I am no teacher, no spiritual nothing, got nothing to sell. Here it is. I’m imagining I live all the life I have lived, at once. I just pretend I’m every person I’ve ever been in my

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An Unprecedented But Benign Saturday Becomes Sunday Turns Into Monday, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:33am

When we started out, Saturday, my hiking shirt was rumpled, the terrain, in order. To end any pretense of mystery, my sister, my brother-in-law, my husband and I spent the weekend on what we called The Great Inaugural Hiking Foray. I’ve been venturing on small local hikes lately, and walking on my treadmill a lot, and decided to make a first real attempt at a hike in Pinnacles National Park. The newest national park, as of 2013, and the smallest at 2600 acres, Pinnacles is about 2.5 hours south of the SF Peninsula, just east of the town of Soledad. It’s also a whole other world, but luckily

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Lisa’s Luxurious Christmas List, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:54am

Good morning, all! I have in years past done a “Friendsmas” list, and today I do so again. This year we are using the term “friend,” somewhat broadly, but hey ho. The intent is to offer ideas for gift shopping (Christmas, Hanukkah, the Lunar New Year), while also supporting artisans,  and, let’s face it, people I just plain like. We’re starting early because things will take longer these days. We’ll kick it off with a bang. I am pretty sure by now you are all familiar with the photography of my stepmother, Brigitte Carnochan. Well, she has a new project, Still Beauty. Behold. *STILL BEAUTY* Bowl of Cherries

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What Is It With Moods, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:27am

Are you placid? I guess what I’m trying to figure out, net-net, is happiness. I have a seismic capacity for joy, and I’m lifelong grateful. But it eludes me, I can’t just call it up, like, “Hey babe, joy time! Get up and keep me company.” Alternative question: moods? A reasonable number of us have just spent a year and a half in which our daily physical lives (shall we say in an understated way) lacked variety? And yet who among us did not ride waves of rage and irritation and anxiety and awe and contentment and sorrow and fear? If that was just me I need to

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A New Knitwear Artist, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:38am

The Sturdy Gal didn’t expect this. That someone, who in fact she raised, as much as one person can raise the mystery of another, would call those flat shoes “Stalwart.” The drudge ennobled, zero ballgown. That’s me, pretty obviously, in a shirt knit, on a machine, less obviously, by my son, in his clothing/art/project, Summon-Elemental. The shirt is made of silk yarn: cornsilk-colored body, forest green lettering. I’m also wearing a blue-green apatite bead bracelet, white UNIQLO jeans, and a still-decent haircut. Patrick (for that is my son’s name) wrote up the origin of the project in the note for his inclusion in a now-running exhibition at the

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Short And Sweet, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:31am

The day has happily gotten away from me. I can also happily imagine that you are well busy, but if not, please don’t worry. Things can get better. I will say that having adult children has been been a true adventure, one for which I had no map. My generation of my culture did not have, in my experience, real relationships with their parents until quite late in life. If at all. In 2021, we have the opportunity and the understanding to do otherwise with our own grown children. I don’t mean real as in 100% raw everything is told all at once and forever. I mean simply

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Decorating Your House With Your Values, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:24am

What this is not: a perfectly decorated, knock-your-socks-off, Internet-setting-on-fire anything. What this is: one small way to fix up your living spaces and support your values. I’ve spent the pandemic freaking out, setting up a room for myself to write and work out in, and “finishing” the decoration of this house I’ve owned since 1986. For the final touches, as they say, I wanted to put my money where my mouth so often is, in support of Black-, women- and LGBTQ-owned businesses. I thought you all might appreciate these sources, despite your socks remaining firmly on your feet. Here are a couple of photos. First, for a while

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Absolutely Nothing That Makes Any Sense, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:58am

This morning it’s been really noisy outside. My neighbor’s child is not practicing his trumpet, nor is my other neighbor holding business calls by his pool. Thee nearby construction project’s things-that-grind and other-things-that-bang have been mercifully stilled. Instead, the crows and squirrels were yelling. I mean, really yelling. And suddenly, just as I begin to write, they fall silent. I mean, really silent. I love mornings. Everything feels so signifying. In the afternoon, if the creatures of nature caucus in the trees, I probably just close the window. In the morning, I listen to the quiet with as much attention as I do cawing. Even of the raucous

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When You Turn 65 Suddenly It’s Time For Eileen, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:44am

I wore jeans for (wait, I’m counting,) starting in 1968 (wait, math,) 53 years. But even before the pandemic I’d begun to winnow the horde. These were too tight across the hips, these too short and tight in the rise, these too baggy and tattered. Then, after 18 months home in sweatpants, finding myself somewhat unhappy at the prospect of an hour’s drive in denim and excessively unhappy at the thought of three hours on an airplane followed by three days of three-hour writing classes, I complained to one of my sisters. Sisters are great. Being great, she listened for a minute but also, being great, almost immediately

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What Is It About New Mexico, Or, Saturday Morning 8:02am

I am in Albuquerque. Whoa. Crazy. The Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association, or at least 80+ of the 1000+ member association, have gathered here for the annual retreat. I thought long and very hard about attending in the time of COVID. To wit, in case you’re faced any time soon with a similar calculation: I am trying to write fiction and it is not easy. So hard that I have put my “completed” first book aside and am halfway through the first draft of a second. It’s a romance. Whoa. Crazy. This association has been invaluable to my learning process so far AKA such as it has been AKA

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Why I Ask You To Watch Carmeon Hamilton’s New Discovery+/HGTV Show, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:09am

In the early days of blogging, an entire decade ago, I read my peers widely. In those days, I made friends I am bonded to even now. The Era of Instagram has been different. I hover on the doorstep, scrolling, watching Stories, posting only now and again, consuming content, as they say. Never mind TikTok, at least not yet. But when I began to follow Carmeon Hamilton several years ago, for the first time I understood how an influencer, one who maybe doesn’t even know your name, can feel like a friend. Over time, I’ve found myself invested in Carmeon’s life and growing success. I’m going to come

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When The Day Compels, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:12am

Occasionally when you have nothing to add, you still have to write. On 9/11, 2001, I started to drive to work. Crossing over the freeway the music station began to report the news. My kids were at home, their father would be driving them to school. Except I turned my car around and walked back in my front door to say that nobody could go anywhere. My daughter rolled her eyes because I was over-reacting. She was a teenager. Just another day, in many ways, as is often true of tragedies. The best thing I’ve read about 9/11 is this story in the Atlantic,  probably because it stays

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Hello, September Friends, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:23am

Good gray morning to you, my friends. This August the coast of Northern California, in contrast to the incinerating Eastern and Central regions, has been relatively cool. Our sun will shine today in a couple of hours (and I call it ours because something about California makes us feel that the sunlight is ours alone) but for now it’s a little chilly. Very nice. Although I have enjoyed these less-committed days, taking August off from blogging, it’s remarkably nice to be back. I hadn’t realized how time to write exactly and only what I’m thinking about, exactly and only in these morning hours, clears my mind. As though

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A Writing Room With Space For Life, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:36am

It’s almost finished! This is my writing/guest/exercise/conscious purchasing/life space. Ta-da! A while back, I made my son’s old room look nice. That was satisfying in the moment, but ultimately not fully useful. So over the pandemic I’ve: Bought a new sofa bed for guests Bought a new sofa for me to write on, in solitude, with a view of undisciplined vegetation and frolicking butterflies. (Trick question; it’s the same sofa. Wasn’t even a question, but never mind.) Bought a treadmill Bought a throw blanket, pillow, woven basket, a table lamp and a lampshade in alignment with my stated values Collected and displayed life artifacts that bring joy in

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New Mirror Same Person, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:01am

Good morning. If you remember, I am prone to caveats when posting my outfits. I’ve been concerned about the inaccuracy of my mirror. So, we got a new one. I still don’t think I look like this but really, doesn’t that bring up the fundamental question of what do we look like, and to whom, from what perspective? And, having brought it up, aren’t we well advised to say, “That’s nice, dear,” and talk about our favorite jeans instead? These are my 100% cotton barrel-legs from UNIQLO. I wore jeans this shape in the 80s. I loved them then and still do. Here, with a Ted Baker floral

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A Feverish Imagination And Cutting Boards, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:32am

The other day I had the most vivid and sudden image of aging. (It was the morning I came down with vertigo; I hypothesize a correlation. By the way, I’m much better. Thank you all so much for your support and suggestions.) I was in the car with my husband. I seemed to have had a whole idea in an instant, and I spoke in paragraphs as though a large iridescent bubble had popped and thought was released entire. Anyway, I said that to me aging feels as though our membranes–the separators of cell from cell, neuron from pathway–start to fray and become porous. This may mean that

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Interesting Maladies, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:02am

No full post today, as I’ve been hit with a bout of vertigo. Did you know we have microscopic crystals in our ears that help us maintain our balance, and sometimes, due to viruses, or impact, or they don’t even know what, the crystals dislodge? Now you do. The human body is full of surprises. This is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. The series of exercises I need to do in correction are absolutely silly. See: the human body is full of surprises. Anyway, it makes it hard to focus my eyes, so, with any luck, see you next week. Have a weekend in balance;).

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Oh Canada Oh History, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:40am

Today I’d like to ask you to go read my friend Frances’s recent post on her blog, Materfamilias. (If, of course, you have not already.) She writes about her experience growing up in Canada, and about her mother, in light of recent discoveries in their residential schools. And then I’d ask you, if you are so moved, to donate to a fund building an Urban Indigenous school in the area where she used to live. Frances’s post resonated with me for many reasons, but let me just refer to something personal. My mom was like Frances’s mom; committed to anti-racism and working to mitigate racism’s effects. Frances carried

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Has Eileen Fisher Changed Or Have I?, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:29am

As it turns out, my favorite outfit for serious heat remains a simple jersey skirt that falls well below my knees, and a t-shirt. Surprise;). Which is to say, when it’s too hot for jeans and shorts don’t feel like me any more, well, here we are. I am surprised that both top and skirt are from Eileen Fisher, not a brand I’d not been able to wear until I found this skirt several years ago. When it occurred to me last week that I might want to own TWO such skirts, in case one was covered in flour or pollen or lint as has happened, it was

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Four Nights Near Guerneville; All The Blues And Greens, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:25am

Somewhere between cabañas with a beloved husband and the backyard with fountain lies a house stay on the Russian River. Less cryptically, I just got back from four nights with my two adult children. And I mean adult. 31 and going on 34. We stayed at an Airbnb in the trees above Guerneville. Here’s the little outside deck. There was also a grill, so one night we cooked and ate dinner right here. Seen from the living/dining/kitchen area, ever present forest. At night ravens cronked furiously but I didn’t mind. The house was nicely decorated. Two bedrooms, so I shared a king bed with my daughter, and two

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Tiny And Immediate Glory, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:01am

My comments have been fixed. Is that not wonderful? You all are a gift.   We can travel, now. Also as was always possible, we can expand our worlds on the axis of tiny and immediate. Without spending a whole bunch of money. Which is to say on Shavonda Gardner’s recommendation, I bought a solar-powered fountain, and now have an itty bitty water feature in my side yard. While this planter may only rarely be touched as above by the hand of the sky, it’s often bubbling. I plugged up the drainage hole with duct tape. It works well enough. The fountain floats on water and sprays water

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Getting Away To The Wine Country, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:15am

We got away for the Memorial Day long weekend. Got out.  I had to sit and stare at that sentence for a long time. I imagine the peeling bark of a birch tree. That’s kind of how it felt; the past 15 months flaking off in fragments. Who knows what lies below, and all that. We stayed at the newly-opened Montage Healdsburg. Up front let me say it was a serious splurge. Also shockingly wonderful. The rooms are housed in single story buildings around the resort, 2-3 rooms per building. The architecture is so incredibly Northern Californian, I don’t have the vocabulary for it, just the emotion.   

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Testing

As you can imagine, I am testing various parts of the blog site that might have broken the comments. So far it seems like there’s nothing that can be fixed without an actual developer writing actual code. I plan to continue writing posts, opening up my Facebook follows to blog readers, and answering my skyepeale emails until I can get this fixed. Thank you all so much for you patience. See you Saturday. Still testing. And have begun the process of looking to hire someone. Found a way to display the comments in the sidebar, but still don’t know how to get more than one comment in before

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San Francisco Garden Up A Hill, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:59am

After four tech support help sessions, comments are still broken. I have one more trouble-shooting process to try and then it’s a site rewrite, I fear. So for today I’ll keep it simple. My husband and I went to San Francisco yesterday, and while he did some errands, I went up a hill. I’d never seen this vertical pocket garden before, up above Sansome, a little north of Green. It was lovely. Steep, but lovely. Also apparently a labor of love, as I shared yesterday on Instagram. And people live in apartments and condos on the adjacent hillside terraces, bringing home their groceries of a weekend afternoon. The

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Skin Care Indulgent And Thrifty, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:51am

I am enjoying my current skin care products. I shall share here, as you may enjoy them too. First, as the easiest first step towards reducing plastic containers I could imagine, I now wash my face with bar soap. This has a nice, faint scent, and does not tighten my skin across my cheekbones like a vise. Check. Next, a host of different serums and, what should we call them, activators? Potions? Perhaps best understood as a list of items rather than a category: peptides, hyaluronic acid, retinol. I spend very little money on these, as I am buying ingredients, not magic. Hyaluronic acid apparently attracts moisture. The

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An Ineffable Parking Lot, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:39am

Usually I leave flowers in my garden but this year I am cutting them and bringing them inside. I mean, not all the time, but more often. As of Thursday I was fully immunized so I did errands. This year I like to gather huge bundles of one sort of flower and cram them into one very large vase and see where they fall. As you know, I have a lot of white in the garden. Viburnum cut well, and persist in their glass cylinder. They even drop their blossoms prettily. Glamis Castle, on the other hand, absolutely terrible vegetation. Late bloomer, covered in thorns, smells bad, prone

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Turns Out, Press-On Nails Are Fun, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:18am

I rarely get manicures. After all, I spend a fair amount of time pulling weeds and lopping branches, not good for nails. Sure, when I know something fancy’s coming up–a wedding, a party, a spiffy vacation–I’ll go to the nail place. 99% of the time their efforts last for maybe a day or two, but since that’s long enough for the event, eh. The only time my lackadaisicality annoys is surprise events when I aim for something between black peacock feathers and comic sweatpants, but my gardening fingernails hold me back. The line between Sturdy Gal and Artsy Cousin can be hard to tread. And that’s why, when

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Under The Weather For Good Reason, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:57am

Good morning to all. Here, have some viburnum. Somewhat blurry, but then so am I. I am happy to have gotten my second shot Thursday, however I am still a little under the weather and therefore must beg off today’s post. I’ll be back next week. That is, with any luck as I see my blog hosting site is performing maintenance tonight. Cross your fingers that the maintenance does only that–maintain. For today, I did want to pass two online events on to you. They were in turn recommended to me by a Princeton classmate and friend, Sarah Finnie Robinson, who has been working on the health of

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All Is Well And How Will All Be Well? Or, Saturday Morning at 9:21am

In my little house surrounded by my little garden, all is well. The new sleeper sofa for the guest room/study/workout space arrived (I’ll show you all once the space is all set up), the stovetop is clean, and one of several loads of laundry just slowed to a stop. Outside, the native iris are in flower. They’re very short, mostly white, and bloom profusely, looking therefore for all the world like tiny flocks of seagulls caught by tiny threads. The roses are budding and I’ll be able to smell them soon, the dogwood are popping, and forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts and miniature strawberries cover the garden floor. But our

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First Rose First Girl, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:36am

The first rose has bloomed in my garden. Nothing special. A garden variety one might even say, red rose. Doesn’t even smell like much of anything except generic flower. Vegetal. But she seems like someone I’d want for a friend. Someone audacious. The girl who goes to a party in a group, and as her friends buzz under the portico, fretting about it being too early and the terrible possibility that they have all Worn The Wrong Clothes, she presses on the doorbell with two fingers for emphasis, once, twice, “What the hell you idiots, I’m going in!” And they have the time of their lives. I love

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One Step Up From Sweatpants Is Farther Than One Expected, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:44am

So one morning I had to go to the post office or something and I put clothes on and they didn’t look terrible. This startled me. So I took a picture. Might we derive some useful constructs? I do not know but let’s try. A good if accidental haircut can deliver 60% of your style Your best sunglasses handle the next 15% The remainder can be managed through silhouette (these trousers and cropped jacket make me look long-legged; I am decidedly not), and a color scheme that works for both the hue of your skin (navy and tan are good for a mostly cool-toned human) and for your

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Elegant Waistlines, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:15am

Today marks three hundred and seventy-something days of all elastic waistbands all the time. That’s not quite true, on the rare occasions I’ve ventured out beyond my neighborhood streets I have attempted oversized, non-stretch jeans. But still, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel the same about my beltline again. And summer is coming. Vaccines are coming. We in California open to 50+ on Thursday and I see that groups are calling for the US to use the big production pipeline we’ve built to supply the rest of the world, soon. All of which to say, it doesn’t feel completely unreasonable to imagine a coming season of walking around

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The Other Side Of Forgiveness, Or, Saturday Morning 10:09am

To all in the Asian community, I feel for your fear and sorrow and rage and I am thinking of you   I have exhausted my capacity for outrage, in the dead middle of events that deserve it. Absent outrage, what? Sometimes we find an electoral solution, and therefore a clear course of action for change. But sometimes the problem is broader and deeper than the power of any one elected official. Then we enter the realm of culture and currents, and struggle and demonstrations, and thousands and thousands of opposing attempts to define evil. And in that place? What about forgiveness? An obdurate forgiveness, if you will,

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Fitness Of Another Sort, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:24am

Some have put the question of fitness to the side, during the pandemic. Perfectly reasonable. Some have taken their fitness to new heights. Also reasonable. Me I’ve just been trying to do something about my goldarn anxiety. Said phenomena, born of neurons and hormones and forces I know not which, has become more important to address as it seems I cannot drink alcohol=, my prior medication of choice, except in small and fairly infrequent amounts. This year I took on Dry January, as I’ve done before, and when I emerged my body chemistry seemed to have changed and I can now enjoy a glass or two once a

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Imaginary Travel As The Time Draws Closer, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:27am

I know some of you, maybe many, are beginning to plan real travel. I’m not there yet. But in the way of pandemic mood swings, today I’m optimistic and ready for vistas. I think about Africa, having never been. While I’d like to see the creatures, I am also curious about the terrain and the trees and the light. In other words, this. And how about Montenegro? Some of the people I follow went there before the pandemic and I was struck by its beauty and the feel of hidden history. I’ve never been drawn to Japan, as many are, but South Korea? I’m so curious. And to

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The Board Of Hope, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:34am

Confession. I am finding this pandemic home stretch harder than our deepest lockdown. In California, everyone 65 and over is now eligible for vaccination, as are healthcare workers and teachers. This means several of my family members are all set. I’m 64, not 65 until September, and also retired, which means I am so close but yet so far. I’m good at enduring, but not waiting. What to do? I don’t like this anxious state of I Am Not Getting Mine And Everyone Else Is, and I especially don’t like being the person who feels that way. I hung a bulletin board. I’d saved cards from friends and

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Passing On Fashion And Its Memories, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:45am

Hello. In spirit of my recent clearing stuff out, both my mother’s possessions and my son’s old room to prepare a writing spot, I also took a look at my closet. I’ve been prone to scoffing at Marie Kondo, which isn’t very nice, and was also probably a defensive reaction because I didn’t WANT to get rid of anything. Isn’t it great the way we humans can evolve and move beyond our self-confusion? Sometimes? So, spark joy it is. While these two dresses do their joyful job on the hanger–they are quite simply, beautiful– I no longer enjoy them on me. The brown and black Prada has no

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Something About Red And Pink, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:32am

Let’s party like it’s 2015. By which I mean, let’s go for some frivolity and sweatpants. ‘Tis the season of red and pink, my friends, what with the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day so close together. In many Asian cultures, red is the color of good fortune. In America, red in February means love. (Of course I may revert to pink, being a High WASP and all that.) Let’s double down. I promise, I am truly considering a pair of these joggers (I have them in size S in gray and black and they are in fact streamlined and cute), to be worn most likely with this

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#Bookstagram You Say? Or, Saturday Morning at 7:54am

I would like to invite you to follow me on my second Instagram account, @lisa.carnochan.writes. Ironically, although both my @amidprivilege Instagram and Twitter accounts are named for the blog where I do almost all my writing you have ever read, to write books I need a new name. intstagram.com/lisa.carnochan.writes it is. There I shall post the books I read and the books my writer colleagues publish. “Read” being a kind word, that covers both present and past. For example, since I am not one to reread, I have been winnowing my collection of high school Fitzgeralds and young 30s Anne Tylers to include only works that I in

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Yes We Will Yes We Will, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

Today is January 30th. In about six weeks, we will have quarantined for a year. By “quarantined,” which is a fluid term, I mean all groceries delivered, masking at all times when within 20 feet of other people (except last summer when California was doing well and we ate outside twice), and avoiding public interiors except three retail moments. I write this not to complain. Not that I might not complain another day, but this morning I was instead asking myself what I might have done differently 11 months ago, had I known how long we’d be in. Do you ever wonder? I would have visited my best friend.

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If Pearls Become Power, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:18am

Imagine I write this post with no trace of anger in my voice. It’s true. This year the American media covered Inaugural fashion in perhaps more depth than usual. We read about which designers Kamala Harris and Dr. Jill Biden wore to the COVID Memorial ceremony; we watched as the Biden family, the Harrises and the Emhoffs, and Hillary Clinton came down the steps of the Capitol, in purple, plum, lavender, pink, and goldenrod. JLo and Lady Gaga and Amanda Gorman performed in a white pantsuit, embellished black dress, and yellow blazer with a red headband, respectively. And oh yeah Joe Biden wore Ralph Lauren and Garth Brooks

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A Beautiful Morning, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

We had a beautiful sunrise this morning; I could see it from bed when I woke. Last week our gardeners pruned my front yard rose bed. This week I asked them to cut back the red climbing rose, the miniature bamboo, and the leggy, leggy salvia. Now I just have to clean up the yellowed leaves that fell as their branches were cut, and put down compost. In the back yard, hellebores are raising through last year’s detritus, and I sense the incense cedar preparing for another year of growth. Such a happy, friendly tree. My aunt, my mother’s baby sister and my friend, gave us this bowl

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A Memorial To My Friend And A Manifesto, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:05am

I really meant to start 2021 with a light-hearted post about sofas, or decluttering, or sweatpants. We’re all frayed and we deserve some fun. I could have done it, even though my long-distance best friend died this past Saturday. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma in May on her 60th birthday. Despite surgery, chemo, and radiation, the standard of care, as they say, she never recovered her health. She leaves behind five children, a grieving husband, her mother, two sisters, me, and my son, for whom she was a sort of second mother. But I still could have written something about warm socks. Liz was a private woman, and

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The Lights Of A Pandemic Christmas, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:36am

We are entering the season of Christmas. It’s a big deal, in the USA. Although I did not grow up in a observant religion per se, I’ve always loved this holiday. For my family with resources, it meant private abundance and public quiet. Presents and twinkling and tablecloths; no cars on the street, few airplanes above. Everyone home. This year, of course, everyone’s not home. But we’re celebrating. I put up a tree. Bought it Saturday and stood it in water but didn’t finish decorating until Thursday. Good enough.   The angel belonged to my grandmother, via her Austro-Hungarian second husband if I’m not mistaken. The wings are

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On The Other Side Of Known, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:05am

During a pandemic, one thing you can do is think a whole awful lot about things you previously took for granted. This can be human beings that you love, or, a possibility, rainbows. It rained a few weeks ago, once, briefly, and when I walked into the front yard thinking simply to smell the clean air I found this. A rainbow. Bingo. And I thought about how, having of course nothing else to do, when we use the word “rainbow” as an adjective, we are referring the signature bands of color. (BTW, did you know that the rainbow is said to have seven bands in all? Red, orange,

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Who Would Be Wearing This, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:51am

I cannot get this dress out of my mind. That trailing festoon on the side? Peacock feathers, dyed black, traces of the original blue and green iridescence. See, I wore my 12-year old little black Narciso Rodriguez for our Thursday Thanksgiving a deux, and I noticed that it felt perhaps too body-focused for me now, at 64. It’s not that I feel ashamed of my silhouette, more that I might want to present with less skin, to communicate how more of how I feel in that selfsame skin than how I look. I then of course indulged in recreationally browsing black dresses yesterday, only to meet the Peacock

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Dust On The Mirror, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:48am

Some people like to dress up at home. Susan at Une Femme, and Sue at High Heels in the Wilderness, for example, both do it very well. But I have learned that I truly don’t care. This is in no way a dismissal of the  concept. It’s just that dressing, for me, is about communicating in a social context. If my sofa had opinions, or changed clothes herself to indicate her mood, aesthetic, or politics, I’d probably pay some attention. So, as I sit here now in over-sized jeans and a flowered turtleneck, I have photos for you from earlier this morning. I put on the clothes my

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Pandemic OK, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:45am

Well. Here we are. I would love to hear about your Thanksgiving plans this year. A judgment-free zone, if we might, because I am going to trust that you all will do what you must to keep everyone safe. My husband and I are staying in. We will order takeout, from a local business, either a family-owned supermarket or a restaurant we used to patronize when we went anywhere. We will not have visitors. Now that I think about it, we will probably do an extended family Zoom call, as we have every Saturday evening almost since the pandemic began. I hope everyone remembers that if things are

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Some Events Need Rhetoric, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:36am

Yesterday we woke up to something blowing through the branches of my young trees. Being well beyond judgment by that point, I could have sworn I heard the question, “The winds of change?” Last night as I went to sleep, it began to rain for the first time since last spring. I remained wary of the sign, reluctant to count on anything, trying with my wildly firing neurons to create the outcome I wanted. Create? Enforce? Enchant? The anxiety of superstition. But today it’s done. Today is for breathing, crying a little, group chatting with friends and family, and for coming here to say I feel love for

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No Surprise Here, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:36am

I imagine every single person reading this post knows the US’s presidential election is Tuesday. I imagine that almost every single person reading also knows who I’ve voted for. Now, I’m not going to exhort you about anything, anything at all, because I also imagine we are exhorted into exhaustion. But I did want to say something about why I voted as I did. I grew up believing that if you have a lot you owe a lot. Not that anyone ever said this out loud. High WASPs, remember, don’t do overt. But the example was set, that one must give in one way or another, and, I

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A Guest Post On More Than Gardening, From Marchelle, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:14am

Today we’ve got the good fortune and privilege of a guest post from my friend, Marchelle. AKA @afroliage on Instagram, she writes from her garden in the English countryside, and is a wonderful essayist. I’m so happy to have her on this blog. Spoiler alert: this is about more than gardening. How to garden How did you learn how to garden? The question throws me and I realise I don’t know the answer. Yes, I bought and borrowed books, most of which I have never fully read. Certainly, I have imbibed seasons of comforting British gardening television, mostly when I had no garden. Without doubt I grew up

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The Cup Spilleth Over, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:14am

Somewhere on the blogosphere, in a place I can no longer find, I defined luxury as when the cup of both function and beauty overflows. Meaning that both beauty and function are packed so thoroughly into an object or experience that we plain ol’ get more good than we expect. The surprise adds to our enjoyment; cost is incidental. In that spirit; things. A Thank You From My Siblings As I have said, I am the executor for my mother’s estate. This has involved a lot of work, especially of the fighting-with-people-who-charge-too-much and keeping-track-of-myriad-annoying-details varieties. When my siblings and I gathered last weekend (in person and virtually) to

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A Magpie Sendoff, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:21am

This morning my siblings and I will engage in the singular High WASP ritual: “The Final Disposition Of Silver And Jewelry When Your Mother Has Died.” I am prepared for disquisitions on monogrammed bread trays and the virtues of rose cut diamonds. At least, I am prepared to imagine such. For in truth, 11 1/2 years after I began to write this blog, the Carnochan siblings have moved on. The locus of our identity, and I suppose I should say mine, since it was really me holding on to it all, as eldest children will, has shifted. Picked up lacy underskirts and faille overskirts and run off to

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When Friends Say It Better, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:20am

Occasionally someone articulates how you are feeling so well that you give them your voice in thanks. The photo above, and the words below, are by my friend Cara, from her Instagram feed, caratakesphotos. (Note that she is on hiatus just at the moment but her archives are a pleasure.) *** equinox /ˈiːkwɪnɒks,ˈɛkwɪnɒks/ aequi nox Equal Night.The world held in balance, day equaling night. The last of summer’s harvest, the tipping point into the darkness of winter. Persephone’s return to Hades. Yesterday was Autumn Equinox in the northern hemisphere, the official end of summer. Yesterday was too dark (literally, metaphorically, emotionally, physically) to post but I wanted to

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That One Thing You Simply Cannot Do Come Heck Or High Water, or, Saturday Morning at 8:35am

Yes, we’re still in quarantine, and yes, the nation rages around us, but there’s a time for roaring and howling, and a time to sit. Today is the latter. (Tuesday, we phone bank. Will not howl.) I am proceeding on the plan to furnish my “workroom” so that I can in fact “work” in it. The room that currently looks like this, and this, will lose the 15-year old Pottery Barn daybed, a 20-year old Ikea dresser and desk, and the don’t-know-how-old-it-is-but-I-bought-it-in-high-school rocking chair (the rug is staying as is the bookcase) to make way for this New England desk from my mother (that panel opens down and

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What Is Your Community, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:14am

Our air has cleared; our weather is beautiful. I deadheaded my roses a bit this morning, which I like to do intermittently in between writing and dishes and other strategic initiatives. That was a joke. All around my suburban neighborhood, people have opened their windows. Flung widely, I imagine. We have lost a great woman. This morning I had a hard time thinking of what to write that would be true to how I feel but neither electoral nor partisan. Look to the source. Here’s what Ginsburg said: “…do something outside yourself. Something to repair tears in your community.” Granted, she made the remark in the context of

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Furnishing The Apocalypse, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:40am

That’s my sky this morning. No longer orange (excellent article on the extreme angst of that phenomenon), now toxic (a good article on the facts. because the angst of truly poisoned air is something for philosophers and science fiction, not the news. I think of that Ray Bradbury story, The Martian Chronicles.) People are kind, sending their condolences on the fires. But in truth, as a garden-variety self-absorbed person, I can ignore the conflagrations. They are miles away. I can’t ignore breathing. I just want to tell you one thing, urgently. Our weather has always been temperate. You know that movie, LA Story? The bit when Steve Martin

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What To Kindly Burn, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:02am

Welcome to the great Candle Community Collaboration. Some may recall I used to do candle burnoffs, but competition doesn’t feel right just now. So. In June I ordered a Discovery Set from the Bright Black candle company. Six tiny candles, with six different scents. I had planned to compare them but I abandoned that plan right about when I stopped wearing pants. Behold my notes. Much of July and August have been hot and smoky without my burning anything additional *in* my house, but for a couple of weeks candles after dinner were possible. And in that time, I rediscovered the joy of simple novelty; the abundance of

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All My Roses Die Differently, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:30am

All my roses die differently. I have, I am counting in my mind, six cultivars. My one tea rose, Honor, it’s called, holds on with great dignity. Determined to look like a flower come hell or high water until all’s done. Glamis Castle, on the other hand, becomes translucent, petals leaning in upon each other as the blossoms collapse into something resembling tiny rose puddings. Neurasthenia, one might say. The variety is no longer offered commercially, which is a clue, but I appreciate her unabashed failure amidst sturdier compatriots. My most recent purchase, Susan Williams-Elliot, above, grows tiny little blooms with pointy petals and a fragrance that’s out

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A Quiet Vroom, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:24am

Starting back after a break reminds me of those movies scenes. You know the ones? A youth, or a grumpy old man, removes the dust cover from an old car hidden in a garage. He turns the key in the ignition, and the engine roars in approval. We’re on! We can redeem whatever we must! Were I wearing a fedora, I’d tip it right about now. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the apocalypse. As you may know, here in Northern California we’re entering our second week of a serious heat wave. On one of the nights following one of those days, lightning struck hills all around the Bay, for

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I’ll Be Back In August, Not That I’m Actually GOING Anywhere Of Course, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:53am

Well hi my friends. I’m going to take a couple weeks off from posting. I’ll be back in early August. This is not really a vacation because in the first place I’m retired, and besides we can’t travel. But I’ve fallen behind on a few obligations, and I won’t feel right until I catch up. Sometimes you need to stare out across the ocean to feel peace, and sometimes you need to pick up your hoe. What obligations might a retired lady of the suburbs have? A few. My mother’s house is for sale and I have to support that process. I owe reading and comments to other

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Hanging Tough And Not-So-Tough In The Time Of Pandemic, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:56am

Sunglasses/Tee/Jeans (similar)/Shoes/Bracelet (mine is smaller, with a white gold hamsa charm)/Existential Panic (similar) Some days in this pandemic I still wake up fragile. I hope you guys are OK. Above is a morning when I felt, even if briefly, strong. We were driving up to the city to fetch something. I put on clothes, even though I wouldn’t be getting out of the car. The sight of my upper arms, muscular by nature all my life, supported by lifting light weights now and again, cheered me. As did the Ray-Bans, and comfortable shoes. We find our solace where we can. I also wore my Valentine’s Day present bracelet,

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Some Fourths of July, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:03am

In years past, I’ve marked July 4th several ways here on Privilege. Above, with red, white and blue (OK, fine, a little yellow too) plantings. Another year with a discussion of regional High WASP variants. And another, via red, white and blue apparel and accoutrements. (Also on my mother’s driveway, slightly tipsy, laughing.) As you can imagine, this year those traditional colors don’t feel festive. But I can’t bring myself to grieve. We have a hard job to do but Sturdy Gals are optimists and we believe in that Yes We Can business. However. If we want to continue as America in concept and actuality, we also have to

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Incremental Beautiful, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

It appears, nationally, that we’re in for a long, hard summer. If you are in any of the places suffering in what we now call “spikes,” i.e. increases in COVID-19 cases, I am so sorry. If you are in one of the lucky places where caseload is stable, and the community has agreed on how to cope–masks, distancing, testing, tracing–well, me too. Lucky in comparison, but I still find it blindingly hard. Even as a Sturdy Gal. Having relied on native cheer all my life, I am unused to this feeling of constant peripheral distress. I spend a lot of time talking myself down from, wait, what? I

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At The Edge Of What We Water, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:35am

As the world has both stood still and erupted on its axis, my garden has kept going. Persistent little noodge. In the long view, several things of import have occurred. The world got warmer, while California had one of its historical droughts, so trees fell down. Then my neighborhood got hotter still. My plants needed more water in the resultant sun and heat; I ran my sprinklers more often. Everyone in the Bay Area who grows anything other than scrub and cacti needs sprinklers. But the additional overhead water, I’m pretty sure, brought fungus. As a result, in my front yard alone I lost a horizontal cypress, a

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Proximity, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:20am

Let’s do lifestyle, yes? I love these denim tie-waist pants. Seems like the perfect option for the loose seat I prefer, but, fashion. Currently sold out. Maybe to return? Aliya Wanek is a designer here in San Francisco but new to me. How about more small and simple earrings? Can one have too many? I think not. These tiny concave discs also come in white and rose gold. Surprisingly affordable, made of recycled precious metals. I always love a simple but Artsy sweatshirt. Made from cotton and hemp and navy besides. Also from Aliya Wanek, size 2X still available. How about a supplier of linen sheets for our

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When The Universe Tells You To Stop Talking, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:47am

  Hello, dear friends. I write to you, ruefully shaking my head at the universe and my bandaged finger. Last night I closed a door on my hand. Although nothing is broken and I will probably just lose a fingernail, typing is uncomfortable. Next week I’ll return with full-on beautiful goods, impetus for social change in the direction of compassion, and blather about the meaning of life. But today, before I go, I want to say thank you. This blog has helped me enormously with one of the tasks of my somatic being; listening. Listening and remembering that everyone wants and needs to be seen and heard. And

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Inalienable, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:47am

It’s a tough day. I am not able to write without reference to what’s happening in America. A man died. A Black man died after a policeman kneeled on his neck for many minutes. The event was captured on video and seen over and over again around America. People protested in the streets. People and their belongings and their livelihoods were damaged. I don’t have a brain large enough to absorb and comprehend what has happened or why. None of the available conceptual models–neither economics, psychology, social welfare, nor politics–at least no single model in any of these disciplines, explains it all to me. Which means that I

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The Uniform, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:52am

All I want to wear these days are sweatpants, tees, sweatshirts. Enormous caveat, they have to contain a large percentage of cotton and they have to be Sturdy, not slippery. Viscose need not apply. To these I add teeny tiny earrings that won’t get yanked from my ears, when I’m up a ladder lopping off flowering tree branches by a fall of stamens and other vegetal debris. I want cotton, precious metals and precious stones, and ideally I want sumptuous and striking color because absent the beauty of the vast world I have to crowd as much as I can into this small life. If I lived in

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May Is The Month Of Roses, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:32am

I do not remember exactly when I planted my white roses. This is the first post I could find on the blog, but given the finicky nature of my search function, who knows when it all began. Feel free to search for “white roses” in my sidebar if you are so inclined. In any case, it’s May again. Luckily. This year for some reason the roses grew so tall, that when we got a rare rain, many fell right over. I had no choice but to bring them into the house and put them on the hearth. It became difficult to tell where flowers ended and shadows began.

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Settling On A Skin Care Routine, Or, Pandemic Saturday Morning at 9:32am

If I were to look for one good thing about this enforced homestay, I’d say it’s getting better at what I already know. Not that I’m necessarily doing anything better, but I might be knowing how. My grocery shopping wastes less, roses bear more blooms, measuring spoons nest neatly in their drawer. Also I realized I’ve pretty much figured out skin care. The big moment came when I found my favorite cleanser. (And yes I just said that and ah well, my dears, ah well.) I have never enjoyed face-washing. Somehow I can never keep the water off the counter, the mirror, even the floor. Natural exuberance? So

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The Best Analogy I Could Muster For Coronavirus Life, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:06am

In retirement, I have changed my approach to accomplishment. I moved from a detailed to-do list, to simply trying to hit a few defined marks every day. I’ve talked about this before, but, here’s a reminder of my goals, because who among us does not love the minutiae of another being’s life? “Marks” In The Before Eat vegetables Avoid saturated fat Work on my writing (revising my novel, reading other people’s work, blog, etc.) Do some administrative tasks (taxes, Mom’s estate, house refinancing, car insurance etc.) Get physical activity (walk, garden, clean house) Do something to take care of the house (garden, clean–love a dual purpose task;)) Be

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Finding Durable Linen Bedding Turns Out To Be Tricky, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:13am

Just when comfort really matters, my duvet cover frays. Eight weeks in to shelter-in-place, I am finding shreds on the floor by the bed and poking my toes through linen tatters. Have you also read that sleep is the most important thing you can do to strengthen your immune system? New bedding it is. Let me first explain why I will stick with linen. First, the colors of my bedroom are almost completely neutral. And linen adds the texture that saves me from an art gallery look. Second, I find I sleep better on linen, at least linen for pillowcases and duvet cover. (Don’t much like the wrinkles

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Your Perspective On What’s Boring Changes, Or, Sunday Morning at 8:48am

I had thought to see the Bay. But from where I live it’s a winding and hilly road to the ocean, and that felt like too much driving for my broken toe. The Bay sounded good. But the Bay is flanked by roads, and you need an open parking lot to get close enough for short rather than long walking. Again, the toe. No open lots were to be found. At least none by the water. So we improvised. Most of all I wanted something new. We take what we can get. I had never seen this place, close to Google’s campus and a concert venue as it

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In Fact Today I Shall Be Leaving My House (Safely), Or, Saturday Morning at 9:20am

Today, essentially, I must see something that’s new to me or risk implosion. This will require leaving my house this morning. Here’s the plan. Go somewhere. Get out of car (I’d walk but believe it or not I have a broken toe). Look around. Get back in car. Come back. I will take pictures when I arrive where ever it is I will have gone and I’ll post evidence tomorrow morning. I will be wearing a mask. I will be responsible. See you soon!  

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How To Escape Quarantine Brain Without Doing Any Work, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:38am

So I was putting together a post on linen bedding, because I need a new duvet cover, and I suddenly knew with overwhelming certainty that today was not that day. Have you all become more erratic in this time of quarantine? Me, yes. And I cannot control my well-being. One day I might do everything right: exercise; eat lots of fiber and not too much sugar; log an alcohol-free evening, dig holes and fill out forms as planned; but the next morning rise wholly uninspired. Or maybe I wallow in anxiety, olive oil and red wine all day long, only to wake up full of talent. Anyway, never

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Gardening In The Time Of Coronavirus, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:47am

And so it continues. My house is messier, what with two people home, but also cleaner, because I can’t ignore the dust and grease when I am here all day. My garden is also getting more attention. Although we just missed the quarantine window for any significant spring planting (gardeners are not allowed to work here and I cannot plant trees by myself), I’m hunting down fungus and weeds with mild vengeance. The native iris has joined us. Purple up baby, purple up. The dicentra has made an appearance, falling into the arms of surrounding ferns. The loropetalum, what a mellifluous name, kicked off its bloom early this

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Lady Clothes And Glitter Sweatpants, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:16am

What is the best possible thing I can give you now? (Were I a skilled maker I’d surely make something for you but we know that’s just not the case.) I suppose the best I can do is try for two sides of story-telling: pretending and telling the truth. Here’s something pretend. Imaginary shopping. Do you know Ann Mashburn? An independent retailer who started up in Atlanta, Georgie. Expensive, but  they’re having a 20% sale right now and besides, imagination. One of my imaginary selves dresses like this. She wears the Tretorns because she’s spunky, the small earrings (not from Ann, also on sale) every day because they’re

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How To Make A Mediocre Baguette, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:33am

Everyone reacts a little differently to a crisis, and their reaction changes over time. This I know. I also know that all of California is under a shelter-at-home order, that there are currently 306 cases of Covid-19, in my county and the one right next door to me and their combined population of 2.76M, and that I and my beloveds are currently well. I keep track of the data. I know that I hope that you and your loved ones are also well. Other than that, really, I a few days ago I became possessed by the idea of making baguettes, and therefore did so last night. I

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I Hope You Are All Well, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:19am

I am sure that, by now you, know what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic. You’ve watched several musical hand-washing videos, and, I hope, some lovely clips of Italians singing in unison from their balconies. (Siena did it best, in my humble opinion.) With any luck you’ve also stocked up on canned tomatoes, frozen peas, and maybe some pasta. Frozen shrimp. Onions, garlic, root vegetables. Oh, and you’re well-provided with books and movies; the people you love are nearby. Now we wait and hope that our medical infrastructure and the remarkably optimistic and persistent American people can carry us forward into stability. I wish you all

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A Trip To Southern California With Some Surprises, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:07am

The first thing a Northern Californian notices when driving south is an increase in what we might call, “Palmage.” Up North, we have palms, we do. We plant them, but generally as statements, and they take work to maintain. Down South, palms are weeds. Also Southern California has better Mexican food. On the whole. More variety. This week I ate shrimp in Bakersfield. Let me be the first to admit, although I’ve lived in California for 49 of my 63 years, I don’t understand Southern California at all. I travel there as an alien, looking out windows in confusion and wonder, attempting at every turn to wrestle sense

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Find Pretty Good Style On The Pretty Cheap With The Help Of Color And Geometry, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:20am

  As you know, much of this winter I have been wearing UNIQLO curved leg jeans, Timberland boots, and turtlenecks. As you also know, the boots then insisted I buy a cognac tote. So for spring and the non-brutally hot days of summer, my first purchase was a pair of the selfsame jeans in white. My second was an inexpensive ice blue crossbody bag, by a brand called, somewhat ironically, Hobo. But wait, don’t I still own a brown Bottega Veneta crossbody? Yes. But it’s darker and doesn’t work with cognac and the Hobo was <$200. Hear me out. Now all I need for hot weather 2020 is

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How Far From Myth To Reality, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:08am

A few notes on entertainment. What’s myth? What’s reality? What do those terms mean in the context of narrative? Oh never mind theory. I have read a book that I can endorse 100%. I’m referring to Circe, by Madeline Miller. It is, as you’d expect, a retelling of the myth of Circe, the enchantress with whom Odysseus, well, spent some time on his way home to Ithaca. It’s been a long time since I read a book that made me feel this seen. All along I read passages aloud in an passionate voice, I shouted, virtually, “Yes!” throughout the narrative. And yet as far as I know I

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We Get No Practice, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:42am

So it was Valentine’s Day yesterday and this morning I had a weird thought. It seems to me that we most commonly know we have fallen in love when we feel that we love someone more than ourselves and/or we will be lost if they leave us. Yes? No? Let’s say yes. If that’s right, isn’t it odd that so many of us fall in love before we’ve experienced what I believe to be the strongest versions of those feelings? We truly love our children more than ourselves. But most of us fall in love before we have had any children, some may never have them. We truly

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The Good In Retail Work, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:16am

So what’s good about working in retail? People. Stuff. And getting paid, but today let’s focus on the first two. The people you work with. I loved being part of a team again. It’s wonderful when those who truly, madly, deeply know what they are doing help you out, without begrudging your ignorance. The people you serve. I refer to those the moments when customers laugh with you in little sparks of life, even briefly joining you in a shared understanding of humanity. A home goods store is fertile ground for stories of families, and traditions, and as an American with many generations of the same behind me,

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Three Things To Remember For A Reasonable Retail Customer, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:59am

Last November, on somewhat of a lark, I took a “holiday employee” position at a well-known home goods retailer. This Tuesday will be the last day; it’s inventory time. I have almost no idea what I will be doing, but I will find out. Which has been the template for my whole experience. Why do it? I’d always been curious about this kind of work, I thought my extroverted self would enjoy being around a lot of people, and I figured I could sell their products pretty well. And it was doable, I only put in 16 hours/week, in 4 hour shifts. Eyes, opened. People, most of you

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To Notice Time, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:18am

Yesterday I was standing on my back patio in bare feet and I could tell then that California’s winter would pass. Not now but soon enough. I could take off my shoes, temperatures had risen just past 65, I am not completely nuts. We always get a kind of pre-spring in January, maybe even a really warm week in February, before settling into our unsettled March and April. Then comes summer, mid-May, and roses. One of my favorite things about retirement has been the time to notice time passing. I can see my daphne opening day to day, the buds forming on the alder, the cotoneaster berries ripening,

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A Review Of The Ritz Carlton At Half Moon Bay, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:44am

Christmas was quiet this year. No trip to Hawaii with my children, not family gathering except to celebrate my father’s 89th birthday on the 20th. Which was well worth a party, of course, but wasn’t quite a holiday. So my husband and I went away for a few days around the New Year, to the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. Where’s that? Mexico? Hawaii? A remote island in an even more remote sea? Nope. Northern California, just over the hills from us, on the coastline between San Francisco and, well, beach and agricultural towns that trail south until Hearst Castle. It was restorative. Our room was very,

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Queer Eye And The Bearable Sprezzatura Of Cloth, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:25am

In the New Year we try to understand what we care about. However, as one who can care too much, I’d like to also consider insouciance. The careless flap, the nonchalant tuck, malleable pieces of cloth. Consider the dishtowel, or “tea towel” as our British–and perhaps Australian and Canadian–friends, call them. At some point over the holidays I decided to resurrect my faith in humanity by watching every episode of Queer Eye. It almost worked. And, in the process, I found out about throwing rag-like object over your shoulder while you cook. How did I not know? I’d been wondering whether I was weird, rinsing and wiping my

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Well OK Then, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:18am

Yes, my blog was down. For an entire week, during which I told at least five people that this was my life’s work and could they please promise that it wasn’t lost forever. But yes, we think, now, it’s back. Hello! As it happens, today is also the winter solstice. I refuse to draw shady connections between my very small writings and the very big sun, not to mention the Earth and the relationship of one to the other. So don’t make me. To help us back into the saddle I shall focus on the particular, and on personal, persisting time. Brought to you by the letter “P.”

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When The Rain Comes, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:39am

Today is the world’s chance. I only mean it’s raining in this part of Northern California. For all we’re a state of relative hedonists, eating cheese, drinking wine, embracing change, we know how to wait. Summers, as I’ve said, are dry. By autumn, we’ve begun to wait. Our ecosystem needs water. Some years rain won’t come, some several years it won’t come, droughts ensure. Winter arrives, we wait more. This week it’s raining. Let us all dance. Have a wonderful weekend, under the sun or clouds or covered in snow. The world has a chance.  

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The Privilege Of A Gravy Boat, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:31am

Imagine our holidays from the perspective of someone who grew up elsewhere. Thanksgiving can be difficult to decode, much less make meaningful. So many dishes, so many tools, so many accoutrements. What is required? Must I cook it all myself? I mean think about it. Potatoes; white, orange, purple? Greens; roasted with citrus, or in casserole? What about tiny green peas straight from a bag in your freezer? Desserts; pies, pies, pies. Oh wait, a cheesecake! Sauces, jellies, savory, sweet. Surely turkey will be safe. And then you’re sitting on your sofa as a commercial plays for Honey-Baked Hams and you throw your hands up in exasperation. Fully

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The Kit Is Like Dries, For Less Than $100, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:58am

I do not remember when The Kit began following me around Instagram. Usually I’m there to see what my friends and often their cute children are up to. Oh, and my children. In any case, this turtleneck refused to leave me alone. So I bought it. In person it’s not at all blurry, nor does it have that apparent shoulder horn, but is close-fitting and extremely stretchy. Perfect with wide-legged, high-waisted jeans. Might wear nothing else until May. Should I should get a second? After all, it’s only $68. Not the most inexpensive, like this from J. Crew, for example, but compared to Dries, wholly affordable. Black and

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A Frank Clegg Tote, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:36am

I have found my cognac bag. Remember this post? I looked at several possibilities. But I chose the Frank Clegg Handbag Tote. Below you see it closed by the internal buckled strap, which folds the sides in, and then fastened a little more by the short top strap. I ordered two sizes, the Large and the Medium; I find that Medium is plenty big enough so I will return the Large. I even considered returning both and getting the Small, but, in this size I can fit a laptop which is useful for travel and trips to SF, so I’m staying with what I’ve got. Here they are

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Día de los Muertos, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:54am

Today is both All Soul’s Day, in the Catholic calendar, and the second and final day of the Latin American Día de los Muertos. I’ve been following celebrations from the second holiday, Celia Catalino, a family photographer here in Northern California, reports on Instagram from Oaxaca, as does Elaine del Cerro Yao. Gorgeous and moving. I used to find it gruesome; why would a culture want to put death front and center? But this year, after my mother’s death, I thought I more nearly understood. How lovely and warm to celebrate all together, not the loss itself, but those who have lived and moved on. As it happens,

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How To Look Thin When You Are 63, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:51am

Let me first say that nobody has any obligation whatsoever to look thin. If you have landed here for the first time, let me also say that the title of this post is semi-ironic. (As my father might say, I’m using a loose construction for the term, irony.) Sandra Salin however, did ask me a few weeks ago, “Could you write about how you stay so slim, please?” Kelly then speculated that I’d beaten middle-age middle-bulge. So here goes. Oh, wait, first, here’s an unvarnished photo that I took this week, in the mirror at the tailor. With that in mind, here goes for real. Get a mirror

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Un-Domesticated Haircuts at 63, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:45am

A couple of weeks ago, I had very long hair.   Now I don’t. This is better. You can see that my hair’s now about 2/3 of the length it was (looks a few inches longer in the photo because I am bending my head to look at my phone.) What you probably can’t see is that I’m now carrying only 1/3 of the hair weight, because the stylist used thinning shears. Why? I have a lot of hairs on my head, natively, and they are heavy and stubborn with tendencies to flip outward and cheer like the early 1960s. Not my aesthetic. This way the hairs hang

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An Unpopular Opinion Of The Sturdy Gal, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:54am

This morning I offer you an alternative to the highly-praised television series, Fleabag, that I myself, Lisa Carnochan, did not particularly like. May I direct you to GameFace on Hulu? Both shows were written by and star young(ish) British actresses, Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, and Roisin Conaty in GameFace. Both stories follow witty, even brilliant women with impulse control problems. Fleabag tends dark, GameFace to the sunny. I have thought and thought about why I prefer GameFace. In the end, Conaty’s character, Marcella, is just plain nicer to the people she loves. Waller-Bridge’s eponymous “Fleabag” hurts too many people’s feelings, and yet remains irresistible to all. This is

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Reporting Back On Fall Shopping, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:10am

A few weeks ago, I thought about a couple of purchases. Hey presto. Above are the UNIQLO jeans we discussed.  So 80s and so great for the long of waist and broad of shoulder. Rolled up for a punk affect if not the attitude. I’m considering this floral tee for contrast. I considered Doc Martin combat boots but I tried them on and yikes way too stiff for this 63-year old. I happened by a Timberland store and got these instead. Perfect for my walking needs. In the first day or three they are comfortable for 15 minutes, I add heel lifts for my Achilles if it’s complaining.

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9 Lessons For Life From An Amateur Gardener, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:42am

I garden. While I garden, despite my best intentions, I think. Herewith: In gardens, as in life, some people love research. Some, do not. If, for example, you like to build mental models from 20% of all relevant information, and act on that, you’ll run into a lot you don’t know and you won’t know you don’t know it until you get there. But, you won’t be bored and I hate boredom the way others do confinement, or the spotlight. All approaches cost. Patience rewards. Remember when I planted a little milkweed in my side yard? (A project for which I will point out I did very little

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The Value Of Contrast For Balance, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:54am

Color is one thing–contrast, another, and possibly more complex. Through contrast, we communicate our measure of balance. Layers become more evident, both in clothes and, at least for me, the persona. Well, hey, that was theoretical. OK, more concrete. Sue’s post (excellent comme toujours) got me thinking. I’ve  known which colors to wear–no yellow or orange, only certain greens–forever. I have been happy in blues, with various neutrals and a little pink, olive, tobacco, or rust, as above, forever. (Added purple as my hair went gray.) Wasn’t cultural, either, my mother wore yellow, celadon and coral with ease, my middle sister is brilliant in sage. But contrast. That’s

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The Bratty Reader, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:28am

I’ve been trying to read more books. I’ve always been always reading, which is to say, if there’s no open book on my bedside table I twitch. But recently I’ve been trying to read more broadly, across genres, with intent to learn as much as lose myself. Write one, read a lot? Anyway I am reminded that I’m picky. Read a lot of books, run into a fair number that you don’t care for. In what I now know is called “upmarket commercial fiction,” I essayed Where The Crawdads Sing and Little Fires Everywhere, with great expectations. Nope. Both widely-read, sold, praised but I felt somehow manipulated –

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Irish Matchmakers And A Eulogy Of Sorts, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:30am

Good morning. It’s going on six months since my mom died. I am not preoccupied by her death, not mourning all the time. But I notice. In particular, at the moment, I’m needing to finish the unfinished. I’ve been contacting several people I needed to talk to about old issues, including not inconsequentially, me. I’ve been talking to myself in a different voice. I couldn’t even begin to say I understand being a person but I do feel acutely aware of the way I have tied some choices and behaviors together, and that, somehow, they’ve been linked to my experience of Mom. As she keeps on taking her

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Utopia, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:35am

I was talking to my son, a good man, about Utopia. In fact, he was talking about the vision he and his friends have for the future of human society and I started thinking about Utopia. Simply put, in in my opinion to get there the people of this world would need to be happier before we even had a chance. No matter what system we construct, if people are unhappy, won’t they find a way to use the system to get theirs? And then some? But rather than fret about the cheaters, the grifters and the bullies, maybe we imagine how everyone grows up happier. In fact

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Veering Eccentric In The Autumn, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:35am

Even though temperatures here hit 99° this week I can tell fall is coming. The light has changed, a few leaves on my alder tree have turned tan and dropped. Should we do a seasonal shop? And, as though it were a trip and we packing our bags, shall we begin with the shoes? Here’s what I remember from last fall: No. More. Suede. With any luck it will rain at which point I will prefer to keep my feet dry and will not want to worry about shoe materials. Here’s what I remember from the past 6 months: I must contend with a (very, very, exceptionally, ridiculously)

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Garden Hubbub, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:03am

My garden’s super chaotic these days. I’m into it. I especially like the side yard, which I used to say was for butterflies, then more globally “pollinators,” and has now evolved into, as my wonderful landscape designer would say, a “habitat.” Such a generous concept. Those are aphids on the the white-flowered milkweeds (do NOT Google milkweed aphids I implore you for your own sake), and they sometimes kill whole stalks of their vegetal prey. That said, they in turn become a smorgasbörd for ladybugs, so, balance. How about prickles? I glammed these up for you with modern phone camera technology. Painted Lady butterflies loved them last summer

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Cream Blush And Spray Paint, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:07am

More and more I experience retirement as a quest to balance the small against the large. Or the large against the small, either way, equivalence. It is a real luxury. I am deeply, deeply grateful–for the gentle outcomes of course, but even more for the chance to sit in the balancer’s seat. Right there in my own identity, making decisions. See, free time allows for big projects. Writing a novel. Canvassing for candidates. Caring for family. Volunteering in school. Planting trees–which they now believe is one of the most useful things we can do for our planet. Also ever so green and so pretty. Also small projects, like

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A Little Peace And Quiet, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:46am

It’s gray and overcast this morning. I couldn’t be more pleased. I don’t know if the sun was so strong when I was young, but these days I find myself holding my hand over my head in protection when I go out without a hat. My hair is warm to the touch and I worry about my scalp. Anyone else? It’s also possible I am just plain content right now. Today marks four months exactly since my mother died. The new fence along one side of my yard was finished up just yesterday. The second draft of my novel is polished, and out and about in the world.

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A True And Mortifying Story Of Writing That First Novel, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:25am

After ten years of blogging, 54 years of writing (yes I still have my 3rd grade storybook), and 57 years of nigh-on obsessive reading, here’s what I discovered about writing a novel. There are requirements. I thought I’d deconstruct a few for those who feel that the endeavor must be impossible. It’s not. (Here I should tell you what my book is about. The genre is what’s known as “women’s fiction,” so unsurprisingly, it’s about two women. One is older, one younger, one professional and reserved, one open and enthusiastic, they work together on a project in the tech industry, with elements of a workplace suspense plot including

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Blue, Blue, And Blue, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:44am

So this is just a little outfit I wore up to San Francisco yesterday. Nothing particularly special. But it had some virtues. First, the colors. Navy and cadet blue, layered in with cognac shoes, a black, white and taupe scarf, gold dangling earrings Three neutrals, plus a metal, to my mind, gets interesting. Especially if one of them is your best-ever color, as cadet blue is for me. It might be rust, or neon yellow, or lavender for you. Second, the silhouette/geometry. High-waisted pants cuffed at the ankle, platform sandals, a semi-cropped jacket, a high-wrapped scarf. Oh, and I usually fold back the cuffs of the jacket but

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Taking A Bye, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:33am

Hi all. I’m writing my thoughts for Mom’s memorial service tomorrow. As we might have suspected previously and have now proven conclusively, that’s all I can do in one morning. See you all next week. Have a spectacular weekend.

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9 Things We Needed To Think About Again, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:49am

Blogging is episodic; life continues. Let us revisit some issues. Slippers. I considered them here, I bought the Glerups as recommended by Mater, Saga and Dani, I am deeply in love. Seriously, they’re better than barefoot. Buy at least a size smaller than usual, maybe two, the wool stretches and conforms to your dimensions. Feels like someone’s kissing my feet. Huh. That’s a nice image. Pajamas. We scoffed at expensive sweatpants here, I bought a cohort of colorful flannel pajamas like these instead. They are now all gone  I’ve moved on to neutral UNIQLO sweatpants and matching tees. I feel chic and minimalist because, apparently, I satisfy very

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Looking At A Lake, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:13am

My best friend’s daughter is having her wedding party, up in South Lake Tahoe. I’m looking forward to the wedding today–she let me help her customize her wedding dress, and I’ll do her makeup. A very fun privilege. My son and I drove up yesterday. Actually, technically, he drove, I sat there. One of the many benefits of adult children. You notice you’re ascending especially when pines suddenly take over from oaks. There was still snow by the side of the road, here and there. And you can smell it in the air, that mineral scent of frozen water. The rehearsal dinner overlooked a row of boats. It

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Back In The Water With Trepidation, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:20am

It has come to my attention that I have spent far too much time sitting on the sofa. Don’t get me wrong. I like where I sit, I can see my garden. But I like it much better when I can return after long spells of walking very, very fast. Walking is off the list as my Achilles tendon heals. So, and I shudder even to think of it (but I must tend to my cardiovascular capacity because I do love to breathe), I am going to try lap swimming. Oh dear, oh dear. You guys I grew up swimming. Let’s talk about the good sort. Ducking under

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Praise, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:02am

I tend to resist easy praise. When I gave my manuscript (I’ve learned this is what to call it, not yet a book) to a couple of people to read, I asked them to tell me every possible bad thing. Almost as though I can’t trust encouragement until I’ve dug around for every possible criticism, and lived it first. But I’ve been reminded recently what a good thing real support is. (Verbal support, I mean, I never forget how great it is to have others share life’s tasks.) Recently, Frances, who is very frank about her bouts of depression, wrote about feeling blue on vacation. Her readers rallied.

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Should We Talk About Slippers, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:42am

Have we ever talked about slippers? (Yes. At least I did, almost 10 years ago, in my first year of blogging. Never mind.) Mine, as you can see, have worn out. They were a present from my son, Christmas of 2017 – lavender, because that’s the color that’s available by the end of December. They have reminded me happily of my family ever since. But the time has come. On beyond sentiment to feet. For a well-considered choice, of course, we turn to Use Cases. Let us examine key parameters; when, where and how do I wear said slippers? Most mornings. Walking around the house. Out into the

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Wholly Undeserved Rainbows, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:41am

My garden’s still kind of a mess. Somehow I’m not too bothered. It’s easy to find reasons for good cheer. The front yard is worst off, it’s got two big bare spots. My Pieris Japonica up and died a couple of months ago (for no reason that I could determine), as did my pink Cecile Brunner (because very clearly I let it get overrun by aphids and fungus). I’m planning to replace Ms. Brunner this fall, meanwhile I’m splashing biological fungicides around like gin in a pub on a summer night. An imaginary pub, that is. Also we had a hard rain just recently, very unusual for May

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Do High WASPs Do “Camp?” Or, Saturday Morning at 8:53am

Just in case you hadn’t been wholly saturated by the Met “Camp”-themed Gala I have been asked to discuss. I shall oblige. What am I talking about? Every year the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City throws a big party. People dress up to attend. Other people take their picture. Or, these days, PICTURES. What used to be a conventional socialite event has become a piece of theater for celebrities, fashion, and celebrities who wear fashion. The question is (and has been thwacked about like a squash ball on Sundays in Connecticut), “What is ‘Camp’?” I have some thoughts. Let’s first say what it’s not. It’s

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The Demands Of Our Feet And The Vicinity Of Our Feet, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:35am

My Achilles tendon continues to heal, very slowly. And so it has come to pass that after years in flats I have to make a change. For now, and perhaps always on the days my injury bedevils, I need a wedge. I shake my head at past Lisa, so sure she’d figured this out. Also, I got the COS button-front chinos, I like them very much, but let’s be honest, they’re kind of weird. And weird pants (trousers for you across the various ponds) demand simplicity. Worn with graphic tops and boy-look sneakers, my usual choices, they’d just read messy. We have to balance the amount of visual

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And Then One Day You Need New Clothes, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:34am

We all know the “Hey, what’s new this year, gimme inspiration” kind of shopping. I suspect you’re also familiar with my far less glamorous companion, “All my shirts are ripped or warped and I no longer countenance the waistband of my jeans.” Also those Vince sneakers are worn down at the heels and my Bottega Veneta hobo is quite, um, age-discolored around the inside of the handle. What to do? Especially as I am not currently in the mood or circumstances to sail into Neiman Marcus. Start small. I have ordered these Keds. What can I say but butterflies? Oddly, I’m bored with jeans. Too constraining, and too

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Baselines, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:22am

In the week of February 20th I strained my Achilles tendon. On March 20th my mom died. Both events hurt, both are fully survivable. I don’t mean to sound heartless–I understand they may twinge for the rest of my life. I’m just one of those people who has only two gears, cheerful, logical, albeit prone to hurry and irritation – or overwhelmed with emotion so strong I can barely talk. Life demands Gear One. Today is April 20th. What I want most right now is to get back to baseline. I’m hoping all of you have a baseline, a regular. A rhythm to your days that feels comfortable,

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Thank You

You have written me such wonderful replies to Thursday’s post. I can’t reply, I am still not very wordful, but I want you to know how much I appreciate each one and that I am learning from what you are saying. See you soon. Much love, Lisa

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It’s Thursday And Yesterday My Mother Died

My mother died yesterday, early in the morning, in her room at her memory care home. It had become home. We started to understand that she might be dying this Saturday afternoon, no, I guess that was Sunday morning. My sister who lives in Los Angeles flew up, we began what became a vigil. From then on someone was always with her. At the end, as it happened, all three of her daughters were there at the end, mostly lying next to her on her bed. Her sister and son had visited the night before. It was a death that might have been as good as it could

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Are We Over-60 Obsessed With Health? Or, Saturday Morning at 10:24am

A few weeks ago, when I wrote that post about eating more vegetables, a reader commented as follows: I’ve noticed the same pattern in all the lifestyle bloggers. Once they hit 60 it’s boom, health obsession. I never managed all the replies that week, I apologize, I think I got really focused on editing the middle section of my book and used up my words. But I do want to respond now to the question of why people over-60 might start to talk about health – and hear your thoughts. When I was young, my body worked with very few glitches. Aside from childhood croup, standard hay fever,

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Can I Wear Black And Brown Together? Or, Saturday Morning at 8:32am

Yes. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. Sorry. Sorry, sorry. Let’s review some slightly more compelling evidence. Black and brown outfits from trusted sources, i.e. Frances at Materfamilias Writes in black and gray with a beloved French camel scarf, And That’s Not My Age (this blog gets better and better), but also random Instagram people, and bloggers I do not know. We do not lack for high level endorsements, my friends. In Vogue last month (which I promise I did not know before deciding to write this post) and from Miuccia Prada over several decades. I myself now fly lower in the fashion skies, so I

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Change In Plans, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:10am

If you had planned to meet up at Themes+Projects tonight I am so very sorry but I’ve strained my Achilles tendon and won’t be there. I hope anyone who wanted to go to the opening does anyway  – as I said I’m the least of the reasons to attend. As for how it happened, take one “quick yoga” video that jumps you into downward dog without warmup, one hike up and down several hills, and a somewhat belligerent attitudes toward one’s own weaknesses – tada! here we find ourselves. Or just me. Here I find myself. They say it will take 4-6 weeks to heal, and the treatment

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See You At The Opening? Or, Saturday Morning at 9:08am

My stepmother has a show opening next weekend, at Themes+Projects gallery in San Francisco. I plan to be there, if anyone’s in town and thinking of stopping by, let’s say hello? However, I’m nowhere near the first reason to attend. Brigitte, or Gitta as we call her, has a new collection that will be on display. It’s called “Emily’s Garden” – I’ll let her explain. “My first photographs were of flowers and I suspect my last will be as well. I have been drawn to gardens and to flowers, their exotic geometry and sensuous rigor, as long as I can remember. It is a rare day that there

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4 Non-Einsteinian Ways To Eat More Vegetables, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:28am

First I cut back on alcohol. Here, here, and here. Next to go, thanks to rising cholesterol levels, saturated fat. Finally, everyone got worried about sugar, no more than 25 grams/day, hasta la vista whole bags of M&Ms of an afternoon. But then a funny thing happened. If I cut back on sugar I wanted more alcohol, if I constrained my alcohol I wanted saturated fat, if I gave up fat, well, you get the idea. Then I had a routine colonoscopy. Short story: prep is horrid, procedure is fine. Longer story: I had a polyp that needed removal; I have to go back in 6 years rather

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Alzheimer’s In The Rain, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:58am

My relationship with my mother in her Alzheimer’s is the best evidence for Freud I’ve yet found. I might mean a million things, but I’m only thinking about one, that we remain who we are as children. Or more accurately, retain. Somewhere inside the storm of creature that is me lives little Lisa. And she wakes up for my mother. My adult self has Mom’s situation pretty well figured out. I made an infinite number of mistakes to get here, but she’s now got the right medical care and place to live, along with appropriate pearls and good shoes. Maybe close enough. Oh and I can’t forget that

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Winning A Basket, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:49am

I invite you to take a deep breath and imagine a quiet world. Having done so myself, I now see two ways to take this. We can focus on stuff and/or we can consider something important about being human. Or both. Not kidding. In the world of stuff, I have a new bathrobe. Last week I told you I was going to a Coyuchi pop-up to support Kim of Northern California Style, right? Well I won a giveaway! Which I hadn’t even known was happening! I won a big woven basket filled with a couple of bottles of wine, some Sacher chocolate cake, Sugar Scrub from Fresh (I’ve

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3 Worthy Enterprises, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:45am

As part of a New Year process, and in a continued attempt to deserve my retirement by feeling happy as often as possible, I have come to understand that I like to help people. Or at the very least, offer support –  my actions might not have an effect but I can at least try. So, in that vein, three worthy enterprises for your consideration. First, a college friend and her husband run Fine Antique Prints, out on the East Coast. These are not inexpensive pieces,  especially when you get into the 17th century, so to buy online you need to trust the dealer. You can. Or you

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Where They Grow Up, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:30am

I went to visit my daughter last weekend. She had two consecutive days off, which is, in the world of surgical residencies, rare. She’s working crazy hours, she keeps her apartment clean, she’s 31. I can’t imagine why I was then surprised to find she participates in her municipal composting program. Seemed so adult – but wouldn’t medical school and a place of her own have proved already she’s grown? I was surprised in the same way when my son organized his move from Brooklyn to Southern California. He used media mail to send his books to our house in advance. He’s 28 and probably not unfamiliar with

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Two Quite Cute Things, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:41am

January in the Northern Hemisphere is a teeny time of year. We abstain, we center, we consider. On the other hand, some things are cute. And I like to share. When we were in Hawaii last month, my daughter and I were hanging out in the hot tub by the pool, when we were joined by two women wearing identical bathing suits. Turned out they were mother and daughter, and, furthermore, that the daughter had designed their garments. Who could resist? But even minus the backstory we had noticed the suit on the daughter before, and exclaimed to each other how much we liked it. The brand is

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All The Clothes I Bought In 2018, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:50am

I was inspired this week by Sue’s post about her intent to buy fewer pieces of clothing in 2018, and how that worked for her or didn’t. Something I’d not thought of trying ’til now. Never too late. I found the quick inventory quite interesting. You all might, with a nudge, remember that at one point last year I thought I might avoid buying anything at all. Not quite. Leaving out underwear, which after a detour into Cosabella I continue to buy at Target, I managed to acquire 19 new things. Here’s the list. Five Pairs of Shoes    Chanel ballet flats Common Goods sneakers Black ECCOs just

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Rainbow Good Wishes, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:07am

I’ve started volunteering at school again, working with kindergarteners on literacy. Most of them speak Spanish at home. Some of them in any given moment can’t tell whether they are speaking English or Spanish, some still speak very little English at all. However, when I give them words to copy, almost all like to write in rainbow letters. So here you are, multicolor advance Happy New Year, with rudimentary fireworks and child-inspired hearts. I sincerely hope everyone has as happy a 2019 as is humanly possible, and also a very good weekend. Signed, Your friend Lisa

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Hualalai Encore, Or, Saturday Morning at 9am

This year we returned to Hualalai. We flew home last night, I have photos to share. First of all, here’s the dress I finally bought (in light of this post), to be worn henceforth to all daytime celebrations but not wrong for a night out at a Hawaii steakhouse. Dries van Noten. Is it my usual style? As we age, must we remain our usual self? Chanel ballet slippers, quizzical smile attempt my own and simply an artifact of posing. I felt wholly unquizzical. The hotel on the other hand seems always to be its usual and beautiful self. From the lobby, along the walkways, to the pools.

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Christmas Flying Away Home, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:21am

For those of us who celebrate, OK, me, Christmas is both so centered and so fly-away. Someone I follow on Instagram (it’s a private account so I won’t attribute the quote) said they imagine this time to be about holding each other close through the bleak midwinter. Yes. And also about flying around and making lists and forgetting lists and packing up and wrapping up and sitting down, exhausted, sometimes in tatters. My mother always squirreled away some present or other and forgot where she put it. Yesterday she actually remembered that the hospice nurse had come to see her previously. “You came to my bed,” she said,

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A Response To Ross Douthat’s “Why We Miss WASPs” From A High WASP, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:43am

On Wednesday, in the midst of commemorative ceremonies for President George H. W. Bush,  the New York Times published an op-ed by Ross Douthat entitled “Why We Miss WASPs.” My first objection might have been, “Hey, we’re still right here.” My second perhaps more pedantic, “Could you please be specific about which WASPs?” except he made that clear in his subheading, “Their more meritocratic, diverse and secular successors rule us neither as wisely nor as well.” He meant Ivy League white men of the 50s, most of whom were admittedly WASPs. Here’s my true objection. How dare he use my culture to make a point with which many of

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Christmas Presents, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:30am

I have been quite cranky lately. I know I am not alone, as a couple of my friends and family say the same, but I may be the only one of us who has pouted on Twitter. Said I, “At this point I am refusing to read any gift guides solely on principle. Unless written by friends of course because manners.” At which point @jacqb very nicely asked me if I planned to write a gift guide myself, which I hadn’t, but she used the “fingers crossed” emoji. And so here we are. (Right about now I send significant holiday wishes in both arrears and going forward to

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Every Year “Holiday Spirit” Means Something Different, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:44am

On Thanksgiving we had dinner with my father and stepmother. My sisters and brother were elsewhere. My daughter is up in the Pacific Northwest, my son is home. Can’t say we’re doubling down on tradition this year: we ate out for Thanksgiving; we’re going to have, for the first time in my life, an artificial Christmas tree. With colored lights: High WASP sacrilege. Despite our untraditional plans I feel quite familied-up. Although my mom flickers in and out of her Alzheimer’s, my father and stepmother are as present and thoughtful and fun as ever. I have siblings and step-siblings, I feel like their personalities keep me company even

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The Camp Fire From 200 Miles Away, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:42am

This morning we’ve had a blueish sort of sky. I think it’s turning taupe but that might just be me projecting. In any case, the air quality is Unhealthy but that’s better than yesterday when it was Very Unhealthy. I live 200+ miles from Paradise, California–the most populated town affected by the Camp wildfire. I should say, formerly most populated because it has entirely burned down. The fire has destroyed close to 10,000 houses, over 70 people confirmed dead, hundreds more are missing. Their air is Hazardous. From one perspective, the bad air in the SF Bay Area is just a side note to a true and terrible

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Check And Balances, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:37am

This morning most of all I feel a swell towards normalcy. I grew up believing in systems, that rules were generally fair and the responsibility to follow, mine. I’d already woken up lighter and more quiet on Wednesday. As though I’d absorbed the country’s conflict, and could now let it go. If we indulge in fancy, we might say that I had been experiencing a battle which has now settled back down into a loud but not lethal ball sport. Baring of teeth; no deaths. Checks and balances. I’m pretty sure that’s what has come to be meant by “privilege.” When “normal” means “safe.” I suppose now, after staring

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Should I Chop It, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:47am

After close to 10 years of long hair I am suddenly tempted by short. Why? I find that more and more often (as in almost always) I default to a braid down my back. And it appears that, absent hair to fluff or float around my face, all I can see is lines and wrinkles. I don’t want to be defined by the crevasse between my eyebrows. So I went to Pinterest and searched for short haircuts and the third photo up sent me to a piece called, in the language of 2018, 100 Mind-Blowing Short Hairstyles for Fine Hair. That was easy. I mean, I don’t really

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What Can Be Said, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:17am

Hello I have some trees and I have some dirt. This is an incense cedar. She is quite embarrassed that we caught her in bad lighting. So here’s a quick iPhone portrait mode glamor shot to mend fences. Here’s our new White Alder. He was very picky about his lighting too. We gave him several options; he chose “All.” 8am. 8:30am. 4:30pm.   He still insisted on a closeup. And now I’ve just read the news about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and I can’t continue. I’m sorry. I plant trees and write blog posts both because it makes me happy to do

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Early In The Morning, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:02am

Am I alone, liking to wake up in the dark? I swing my legs over the side of the bed, quietly, so as not to wake anyone but myself. I am always reassured by my capacity to do that. Then I fumble a bit for my phone and earbuds, which will have tangled with my glasses, carry it all to the kitchen. I do like the sound of the soles of my feet on the floor. I make tea. To be fair, I think any time before 5 am is unholy. That’s night. Night-waking is only good when it passed unnoticed. But early morning, especially when you’ve allowed

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Geological Formations In New Mexico, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:24am

I just got back from two nights at an old friend’s house, in the hills above Santa Fe. I keep predicting high desert outside my window; it will take a while longer for my imagination to come home. You can see why. The day after I arrived we went hiking in the Tent Rocks national park. At the entrance, cacti, and erosion in apricot stone. Once you get up into what they call the “slot canyons,” you can really see the formations known as “hoodoos.” They look like people. That’s one of my friends, taking a photo of her own. She is in fact a person. Not long

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Writing Partners, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:05am

The past few days I’ve had a houseguest. Frances, of Materfamilias, came to stay. Time to explain that she’s my writing partner. For the past year we’ve been sending each other sections of our longform writing projects. I won’t speak for her, but I’ve relied on the structure of our timeline, the sharing, and the feedback to get this phase done. I doubt I’d have finished the novel’s first draft without our relationship. I wanted to work with Frances for the same reasons I read her blog – she’s thoughtful, well-read, questioning, and loves a good metallic oxford. Seemed we’d be well-suited. And with the goal being simply

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Adventures With A Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:04am

I visited my mom this week. We had an adventure. These days she can hardly talk. When she’s having what I can only call delusional memories, talking to someone who isn’t there, she’ll say more than usual. At other times she will remember social phrases, “I should think so,” “Marvelous!”  But if you ask her a question about the here and now most often she responds with one or two words, and then devolves into what I will call gibberish. When you have a parent with Alzheimer’s you use words that used to feel bad but have become OK. On Tuesday when I greeted her she looked up

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The Quieting Mind, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:02am

Tell me a story, I do believe my words are worn out. Are you busy? It’s so funny, I can go three months without talking in-depth and in-person to anyone but my husband and family. Maybe even half a year. But these past few weeks people have been visiting and I’ve had conversations – some profound, some companionable, some both, all wonderful – full of in-depth talk. Is it fall? Is this the retired person’s version of Back To School? Goodness knows I’ve been learning. Also I’m in a place, maybe some of you have been here too, where a longtime online group is at a turning point.

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Retirement Is (Often) Not A Vacation, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:02am

You might think this post unnecessary. We work, we retire. What’s to deconstruct? And yet in the last couple of months I’ve had some pretty deep conversations with thoughtful women about how hard this can be. They’ve all had demanding careers, been successful by most measures, yet all have been surprised by retirement. I think of how society portrays this time as equivalent to commercial about child-rearing. I remember raging at those Gerber babies sitting happily in a crib, in a room, by themselves, having apparently just slept peacefully for 3 hours. Such was not my experience. Same for retirement. In the mythic old days, men, for it

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Happy Gardening Accidents, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:00am

Fall, in Northern California, is planting time. After a dry summer come autumn and winter rains, we plant while the earth is warm and waiting for water. My well-conceptualized ideal garden will have three zones: Right out the back door – a large stone patio with pots of things that smell amazing and can be used for cooking and sometimes sport bright pink flowers In the very close vicinity – a swimming pool, and maybe one border with gorgeous perennials to be poked at, encouraged, replaced in case of failure Everything else – an endless vista of oaks and gold hills, signs of humanity in the distance, maybe

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What Are You Balancing In Your Personal Style, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:55am

When I get dressed for style I do so in front of a mirror. I can’t lay an outfit down on my bed and be sure it’s what I want. Usually I start with shoes, or jeans (I am almost always in jeans), then pick a shirt that works – length, silhouette, color – then jewelry. To dangle or not to dangle. Finally, lipstick. The key accessory for fading lips. I am guessing I’m by no means unusual? And do you all feel, as I do, a sort of click when you’ve got it right? Right being subjective of course. My friend Sue at Une Femme wrote a

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How To Write The Rough First Draft Of A Novel For The First Time In Your Life

On Thursday morning I saved a file of 75,575 words called “First Draft ACM 8.23.2018.” That overly portentous phrase means, First Draft All Changes Merged August 23rd 2018. In other words, over the past year I have written 75K words, and merged all previous changes into the first draft of a novel. It’s extremely rough, I mean, let’s just say that right up front. By the end I was simply throwing words at a page. There are still notes inline like WRITE MORE HERE. I have to spend next week cleaning it up to send to my writing partner. But since my original goal was only to write 75K words

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See You Tomorrow, Or, Saturday Morning Running Too Late To Publish

I have a draft post in process but my sister and I are canvassing again today and I have to leave my house soon and while I meant to get up at 5:30 this morning I got two spam texts last night at 2:32 and 2:34am respectively and then catastrophised as is only possible in that window between 2-4am so when my alarm went off I did not leap from my bed but instead reset my alarm for 6:30am and although I in fact woke up at 6:15am I could not have breakfast and do you all justice in the 75 available minutes so instead I plan to

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Thanking The 80s For High-Waisted Baggy Jeans, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:29am

Remember the 80s? Best era ever, at least for for my body type. High-waisted pants with baggy legs. Broad-shouldered tops. My hair was big enough of its own accord that I never bothered with a perm. I still remember wearing a pair of khakis in the “paper bag” shape, a dark pink short-sleeved “camp” shirt, with narrow white stripes, a khaki belt with gold buckle, and tan fisherman’s sandals. Remember fisherman’s sandals? I am not sure those shoes could be found today, but the pants, yup. This summer I bought a pair of AGOLDE baggy jeans. I’ve been enjoying them worn with stuff from the past five years.

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On The Fifth Anniversary Of My Second Marriage, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:46am

I would like to take this opportunity to say Happy Anniversary to my husband. On Monday we will have been married for five years. When my children, or other young people, struggle with careers, I feel confident that I can give good counsel. Or good enough to be useful one way or another. But I am always aware that I know very little about how to choose a partner. When it comes to marriage and choosing someone to love and be loved by I rarely feel qualified to opine. Opine, what a funny word. I mean that my reaction to people flirting and courting and falling in love and

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Lace Come Lately, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:17am

We’re planning a winter beach trip; I bought a new bathing suit? Why now? Come winter, good suits are a little tricky to come by. Why a new one, at all? I don’t feel like wearing bikinis any more. I do not dislike my body. But my age, and my priorities, have affected my belly. I’m 61. We may get stomachy in our 60s, more importantly, I’m trying to write a novel. This takes up much of my focus and intent, to say nothing of the large part of my mornings. I exercise only enough to be able to approximate health – if my walks and at-home yoga

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The Big Red Buckets, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:39am

I have a certain capacity for self-discipline and self-denial, but, it gets used up. How? Sadly, on self-maintenance. Eating less sugar than I want to, less saturated fat, eating less all around. Drinking less alcohol than I would like. And so on. What remains for virtue? I can manage  generosity pretty well – I like to give presents and compliments. Doesn’t require any chiding from my inner voices, except when occasionally I get caught up in telling my own stories and forget to listen to what others need to say. But the kind of virtue where you put your needs aside? Not my strong point. So I have

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Some Things I Have Truly Enjoyed Despite The Apocalypse, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:40am

Hello. Hold on, let me go close the door on  the evils of the world. Be right back. Lacuna. OK, hi. How goes this Saturday morning in the summer of 2018? Here in California I see  blue skies, our morning marine layer burned off early. Probably temps will get up over 80 today, would be nice to spend time by the water. I may or may not get there. But before the weekend accelerates I wanted to recommend some nice things. I can hear the snorting and stomping of warhorses through that closed door, it’s time to draw friends nigh and share. Books I’ve just finished “Less,” by

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Furnishing An Apartment In The Pacific Northwest On A Budget, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:44am

My daughter has moved north to start her neurosurgical residency. She’s got an apartment, and furnishings as a graduation present. She and I collaborated on the furniture shopping by texting and pinning links to affordable stuff – it was fun. That’s an understatement. She’s living in a newish apartment building, one I’m fairly sure was built with young professionals in mind. I don’t like that term, much, “young professionals,” but it’s efficient. Conveys a lot of meaning. Her place is smallish: an alcove with a sleeping area closed off by glass doors; modern finishes; tall windows. She’s chosen warm and muted colors for living and eating areas, which

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A Sun In Full Force, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:05am

It’s proper summer, as the British might say. You may be struggling through a heat wave, or, in the Southern Hemisphere, fierce cold. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area the days of blue sky after blue sky after blue sky are upon us. Except when the fires burn. Which, yes, we’re burning and sometimes smoke colors everything slightly tan. In my back yard I feel our region’s hotter temperatures acutely. You may remember that in the last two years we’ve lost the shade of two 70-year-old trees, one a cedar belonging to my neighbor that grew along a shared fence, the other a Chinese elm that shaded our

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When To Build Routine And When To Break It All Down, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:25am

Recently two bloggers I respect have published simple posts about how we spend our days. First Ronni, of Time Goes By, wrote about “relaxed retirement.” Then Janet, of The Gardener’s Cottage, described her daily routine, particularly now that her husband has been diagnosed with cancer. I highly recommend you read both. I have found routine to be a great help in managing anxiety, and in making my way to enjoying retirement. I know some people like to do whatever they please any given moment. My issue is that at any given moment I would probably want to drink wine, eat chocolate, and lie down on the sofa to

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A Lipstick Wardrobe, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:12am

Do you all have a lipstick wardrobe? I think I do. So what was there to do but deconstruct it? Here is my profound analysis. I have not changed color in the past 40 years. I’m neither all the way “cool” nor all the way “warm.” I am therefore forever looking for a not-too-blue but not-too-yellow something-or-other. However, as a white woman, I can get there with  a little trial-and-error. (I believe that makeup companies are now serving women of all skin shades; I hope I’m right.) Lipstick formulations, however, have changed. And I’m a true fan of our modern options. Because you are my friends, this morning

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The World Cup For An Older American Woman, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:34am

So this morning I am sitting in front of the television as World Cup coverage plays. I use those words advisedly; no one’s actually playing right now, men are just bouncing around on a field in brightly colored shorts. America doesn’t do soccer as well as the rest of the world, for reasons I’m sure experts have discussed ad nauseam. Let’s just say by the time this country found the sport we’d already coopted the word “football” for something completely different and leave it at that. Even so, I’ve got memories of World Cups past. As a little guy my son was obsessed with the tournament chart. One

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What A Polished Tomboy Wants To Wear To Those Daytime Events, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:01am

(Note: Although I no longer monetize new posts on this blog, the images below are pay-per-click. That’s because the tool I use to search for ideas, ShopStyle Collective, automatically includes their links in generating the widget. It would take me forever to try and replicate this what with Photoshopping and cutting and pasting. Please forgive my inertia.) So, daytime events? My issue is as follows: Flowing or floral dresses are not me; fancy structured trousers are for work, not parties. Which lands me, paradoxically, for daytime celebrations, in a world of structured dresses and flowing or floral trousers. Well all right then! Here are some dresses I quite like.

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Capsule Personas, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:41am (Xanax edition)

I have so many style posts I want to write! The story of my daughter’s new blue sofa. Musings on the right lipstick wardrobe in 2018. The burning question, why don’t I have any clothes that work for non-casual daytime events? All fully compelling, at least to my way of thinking. Instead here I sit, again, at the Centurion Lounge at SFO, making a breakfast of eggs, tea, and Xanax. No champions required. I’m on my way to Southern California. My nephew graduates from high school today, my daughter from medical school tomorrow. In retail they call this season Dads and Grads. Did you know? Hence the issue

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Charitable Has To Be Good, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:49am

Today once again I will be heading inland to help inform voters in a California congressional district. I confess to a fairly bossy tone informing people of this, over on Twitter. So this weekend I’m going out to distribute literature in a neighboring red Congressional district, in the lead up to the California “jungle primary” on June 5th. What are you doing, if I can be so blunt? @swingleft — Lisa Carnochan (@AmidPrivilege) May 25, 2018 Someone replied to my tweet, saying they would be volunteering, to a different end. This was someone I imagine has different political values than I, but also someone I know to be

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Thank You For Your Work, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:09am

On my way to Seattle last weekend I stopped at the American Express lounge in the San Francisco airport. The place almost justifies that Platinum card fee – the food includes stuff like fresh farro and mint salad, Filipino pulled pork, free Prosecco – you get my drift. On this visit, on beyond and better yet than the buffet, a reader recognized me and asked, “Do you write a blog?” We talked only briefly, she had just finished a big event, and also I suspect wanted to be considerate of my time. But before we went to our separate tables she said something to me that I’ve been

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Waving From Afar With Roses, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:49am

Good morning:). Today I am up in the Pacific Northwest, either helping or along for the ride (you decide) with my daughter, as she looks for an apartment. I would prefer to mention the exact city, as then I could say things about said city that would make sense, but I do not know that I should be so direct. After all, would my daughter want to be so direct linked to all this folderol? In any case, here we are. We will set out on the hunt this morning. I have no idea how this will go, I haven’t looked for an apartment since 1979. Whoa. If

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I Am In The Process Of Writing A Novel, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:47am

What to do when your boss has set two conflicting policies? And, in particular, what to do when that boss is you? To wit, today’s post. I have policies for Saturday posts. Two Carpe Diems: Must all be written in one day, and finished before noon. I should write what I want to write about. One Superstition. I to try not to jinx anything I care about by making declarative statements about an attractive but speculative train of thought. In other words, I watch myself for premature extrapolation. Which leads us here. I am in the process of writing a novel. I hope that no matter what happens

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It’s Never Too Late To Participate, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:11am

Today’s post will necessarily be short. In about an hour and a half I’ll be getting into my car to drive across San Francisco Bay, to meet my sister in a BART parking lot. From there we will drive to Tracy, a town a little east of the Bay Area. We’re registering voters. I haven’t been to Tracy since I was 17, when I visited my then-boyfriend’s home town for the Miss San Joaquin Valley pageant. I remember some of the costumes – flounced skirts, maybe vegetable ornamentation? In those days it was the moral equivalent of a trip to Thailand. It has always been home for others,

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Very Sincere Thank Yous From My Dad And Me

Here is a note from my father. Dear Everyone: I’m quite overcome by your kindness and good wishes, very many thanks.  (And I am feeling better.) You are a far flung lot.  I esp. enjoyed learning of your very many locations, With thanks again, Bliss (aka Prof. C.) And here is one from me. Thank you all enormously for your well wishes for my father. Also, I am beyond impressed at your capabilities to find the right words. You give me faith. xoxox. Lisa    

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A Small Favor, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:54am

I have a small favor to ask. Many will remember my father, Professor C. from his posts here on the blog. (You can find them by searching on “Professor C.” in the side search bar.) Professor C. spent a few days in the hospital this week. What we might call a heart “event.” Difficult to call it an attack, nothing so pronounced. But hospitals can be unpleasant, so we are all happy he’s home and on the mend. Perhaps none so happy as he himself. The food was dreadful. Here’s the favor. By now you know my family of origin weren’t big on displays of unfettered feeling. But

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6 Little Happinesses, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:30am

Here are five things I’ve particularly enjoyed this week. Match boxes my sister gave me as a Christmas stocking present. That’s one at the top of this page. I like these for the imaginative imagery; I also enjoy the strike, flare and sulphur. I use them to light candles; by the way these are still my favorite. The comments on last week’s blog post,  along with some emails people sent me. Mothers, daughters, aging. Not easy topics, but I appreciate a challenge. I’d rather face difficult emotions than look away. Photos my friend Jamie Street took of my daughter and me. I showed two on Instagram, here. You

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The Scope Of Old Ignorance, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:34am

So far I find my 60s to be distinguished not by wisdom but discovering the scope of my ignorance. The blog is partly responsible. In order to write a post, I pretty much have to have an opinion. To have an opinion, I pretty much have to think I know something, which means I now have a 9-year record of me being quite wrong. That hasn’t mattered much around style or personal history. Who cared if I said it was about big plaid and then it wasn’t? (Although, to be fair, my track record on trends is not so bad.) Who can know if High WASP houses are

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Something I Wish I Could Design, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:12am

So I broke my iPhone 6s Plus screen, but it still worked. Then I rebroke it beyond use. I did not subsequently embark on a rediscovery of the joys of life undigital. Instead we put my SIM card into an old 5s until we could get my phone up and going again. And I loved it. So teeny tiny! So easy to hold! So not taking over my entire perceived universe! I’ve got my 6S working, but I took it back only because the 5S can’t support my apps. All of which made me kind of wish I were still working so I could design the Teeny Phone For

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Purple Flowers As A Trojan Horse, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:51am

Here’s what’s blooming in my garden; dicentra, commonly known as Bleeding Heart. This I believe is dicentra formosa. Here’s what’s not blooming, iris douglasiana, commonly called Native Pacific Iris. We’re backwards guys. The iris has bloomed around Easter ever since it was planted 20 years ago. To bring it back to flowering I need to dig up my plants, divide them into multiplied bunches, relocate. I knew this had to happen soon, turns out soon was last year. The dicentra on the other hand, has hardly bloomed recently and it’s profuse. I haven’t changed much on purpose – only moving a couple of hydrangeas closer to the lawn

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Cheer At The Ceremony, Cry At The Airport, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:52am

News. Yesterday medical students all across the country participated in the culmination of a process known as the National Resident Matching Program. I went down to Southern California to be with my daughter for the event. Today I am very happy that she has matched into a top-notch neurosurgical residency program; sad, however, that her next seven years will be spent in the Pacific Northwest rather than the Bay Area. This is what happens when you give birth to and raise someone with these particular abilities. You celebrate loudly at all appropriate moments, afterwards maybe you cry a little bit in the airport. Her happiness, however, is encouraging

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Counsel Me On Framing Two Pieces of Art Please, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:48am

Guys, I’m trying to hang my Christmas presents. I got not one but three new pieces of art, and I love them all and I want to put them on my walls. From my husband, a family portrait by Ian Gallagher. Not my family, mind you, but one of his Families. Second, from my sister, a print of trees, which are sort of a theme in this house. Third, from myself, one of Kathy Leed’s domestic still lives. You might think that I appreciate each piece less because they all arrived at the same time, but it worked the other way around. They make each other more meaningful, like

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What Is Your Neighborhood Soup Place? Or, Saturday Morning at 9:22am

I imagine many of you love where you live – me too. I’ve probably made that pretty clear. But I’ve mostly talked about the landscape. The color of the skies, rain puddles, a brief and early spring. I may love my local pho place as much as the weather. Pho, as I’m guessing you know, is a Vietnamese noodle soup and it is pronounced, “Fuh.” The restaurant is owned by a woman who looks to be in her early 30s. I have to point out that she’s beautiful because the place is very small and her presence felt, but I should also tell you she is on top of every

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18 Of My Favorite Photos From 7 Years Of Style Blogging, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:13am

I got nostalgic the other day and looked through old style posts. Above you see my first attempt at a decent outfit photo. Vintage Chanel jacket, Tory Burch top, Seven for All Mankind Jeans, and some Manolo Blahnik flats. Floating against a paper backdrop in all my best. Well-dressed, well-focused, self-conscious. Several years later, when a reader said my photos made her feel sad, I tried again. Here, anchored by an orange car and orange shoes, my embarassment battled with the adrenaline required to dash into the street and pose before my self-timer went off. I hoped nobody would run into the tripod I’d stationed on the sidewalk.

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What You Can Ignore And What You Cannot, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:39am

Yesterday I woke up with a shoulder so sore I said “Ow!” out loud, repeatedly, even when I wasn’t moving. I had injured it 3-4 years ago by, get this, trying to shrug on a tight leather jacket. And now the pain was back. It really hurt. Adding ridiculousness to injury, I think I re-irritated it by lying in bed in the morning, holding my phone to read it/type. (Also I just looked up “ridiculousness” because I thought there must be a better word that I couldn’t remember, but there isn’t.) Who gets injured by their clothes and their information devices? I could wander off into a consideration

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What Do You Do When You Are Cranky? Or, Saturday Morning at 9:15am

I am oddly cranky. I suspect this is due a host of things out of my control. I prefer to solve external problems for fixes but this time I’ll have to work on my attitude. My mood? Whatever. Cranky people haven’t got enough patience to find the right words. Totally going to have to take a long walk. Probably see about not cooking, eating out instead. Hope to confirm that I’m making progress on my long form writing project. But I can also dream about trees. Yup, trees. I often use my potential garden as a mood enhancer. The actual one too, of course, but right now I’m

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Astonishing Celestialities Of Profound Import, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:38am

Yeah. That’s the moon. And it was in fact teeny, that’s not just the effect of my iPhone. On the morning of the recent lunar eclipse I woke up at 4:45 am hoping to find a giant blood red moon in my back yard. Nope. I love celestial events, I will never forget last year’s super moon, it shone like a silver dinner plate right over my neighbor’s house. Or a meteor shower above the Eastern Sierra, August, 1975. I love the feeling of mystery in the universe, of being small and lost in the glorious overhead. This, however, was not that. Thank heavens for small earthly surprises. The hellebore

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The Daphne Is Blooming And My Christmas Decorations Are Still On The Floor, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:20am

I still hate housecleaning. Just needed to put that out here. Four and a half years of retirement haven’t made me a fan of household chores. Drat. I know some of you love what some call “the domestics.” I find myself wondering, as I mop the floor, “This? Love?” But I also know that some of you have a housecleaner, which might help. I have not been able to find someone, and don’t plan to pursue it any more because it seems silly for two adults in a small house to have help when one them has free time and needs every possible opportunity to move around. Also

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Fiction That Deserves Our Time, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:26am

When you have a job, recreation is simple – it happens in the time left over. By the way, I’ve never been one to recreate with sports or hobbies. Exercise is effort; knitting would kill me. Hotel stays are good, especially with a spa onsite, but my tastes are sadly fancy and therefore unsustainable. I amuse myself, therefore, primarily with narrative – both printed word, and those images that flicker by which can’t quite be called television if you watch a streaming service on a laptop. When I worked, I held these narratives to no standard at all. All the junk stories fit to consume, a motto. Supermarket

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An Unexpected Benefit Of Style Blogging, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:20am

It’s quite possible I will not add a single piece of clothing to my wardrobe this year. I’m not making any promises; no vows or 365-day challenge. (Dani’s doing one if you want to follow.) But when people asked me what I wanted for Christmas all I could think was that I might need a new pair of sneakers. On further consideration, I allowed as how I might want a new  t-shirt from UNIQLO this summer, and that I’d quite likely need some new underwear. But in truth, I’m closet-satisfied. This doesn’t mean I’ve ceased to care, or that I suddenly lost my taste for luxury – more’s

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Happy New Year in 2018, or, Saturday Morning at 7:13am

I read Bumble Ward’s blog, Miss Whistle, and I follow her on Instagram. Bumble practices a kind of yoga that focuses on love. She’ll post the words, Only Love. Often some skeptical part of me responds, “Yeah, it’s not that easy.” There was a Facebook meme going around that asked you to post a word of good feeling that began with the first letter of your name, as wishes for the New Year. I refrained. But on New Year’s Day my husband and I were up in San Francisco and I saw this out a window and figured, well, OK, even a Sturdy Gal knows when to bow

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Full To The Brim, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:15am

Christmas has been held and had, full to the brim of my favorite humans. I hope, if you celebrate, yours was good. And that if Christmas is not your holiday, you enjoyed the empty streets left as many of us burrowed into houses full of wrapping paper. My task for the day is getting my mother out of the hospital. It’s an odd ongoing process to care for an elderly person, particularly one with Alzheimers. Surgery sets my mom so far back it’s not worth it, even more routine hospital stays exact a toll on her abilities to think and regulate her emotions. The American medical system, however,

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In The Still Of Christmas, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:28am

For all the counting down, the rushing to a day, my favorite part of Christmas is in fact timelessness. By which I don’t mean the quasi-timeless – America’s historical reverence for snow-tipped pine cones, glittered Santas, sugar. I mean, literally, the way time can stop on the day. I am not sure why I feel so. I do know that as I sit on my sofa right now, looking directly at our tree (which is kind of feeble as I experimented with gold and silver and I’m missing gaudy red glass balls), two presents (they arrived wrapped in Amazon navy and gray aspiring to be silver), and the

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Collaborating With An Artist For Friendsmas, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:59am

As a nod to Friendsmases of years past (last year’s is here, for example), I wanted to show you the quilt I commissioned from my cousin Linda. I needed a present for a young British friend of mine and her first baby, and thought something custom-made would be really special. The family likes black and white, and strong colors. Also animal prints. So Linda and I collaborated:). She sent me to her Pinterest page to choose a design. We both liked the Kaleidoscope. Then she pinned together what I can only call prototypes, and sent me photos, so we could decide on a color scheme. We went from

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Many Things That Are Squishy And Plush And Brightly Colored, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:34am

Oh my gosh you guys I apologize but I am going to have to clarify my post from yesterday. I cringe because if I don’t watch out this is going to turn into a blog about blogging about blogs and I Do. Not. Want. That. At all. So I need to say I will still post about style things if I wake up on Saturday morning and think about style. For example, “Hmm, I want to tell the crew about my new sofa pillows!” Or say I’m heading out the door during the week and think, “Hey, this outfit works, I’ll share it with everyone on Saturday.” It’s

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A Little Moment Of It’s Not That Bad, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:56am

  Come December my back yard used to disappoint my living room. If I snuggled up to nandina I could find a little berry cheer but my beloved now-departed elm tree blocked much of the view from indoors. Even with the leaves had fallen, what I could see through bare branches was often splotched with elm detritus I couldn’t be bothered to remove. Nothing stirred or salved my soul. Now the elm is gone I can see autumn itself. Which, contrary to popular belief, does come to Northern California. Our temperatures get cold enough to flip the chlorophyll switches – it’s just that our low-water ecosystems require either leathered leaves too

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Leave The Leaves Alone, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:46am

I hope all of you who celebrate had a good Thanksgiving. It was just me and my husband this year. So we walked to a local restaurant, arm in arm, dressed up. I even wore boots. Big fancy. We were seated in the backroom, where harvest gold tablecloths reminded me of Thanksgiving with my grandmother at the Longmeadow country club. Inauspicious. But the food was surprisingly, extraordinarily, good. Like when you turn the corner on a boring walk to a valley view. They even let me substitute creme brulée for pumpkin pie. Applause. And then we walked home. We’d done the same thing last year. Arm in arm

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A Good Week Of Retirement, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:50am

Prepare to have the socks bored right off your feet. Lately I’ve been considering the idea of a Good Week. As someone who is wired by goals and plans and achievement, as I’ve said before, retirement poses a conundrum. Very little of what I do is big enough to need my full machine. Revving up just to, say, take used hangers to the dry cleaners/return library books/get to a yoga class generates enough adrenaline to negate the yoga. Seems dumb. Retirement is a privilege. I want to organize my time so that at the end of a week I can look back and say, “That was a Good

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Piece By Piece, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:03am

You may remember a while back I started repurposing my kids’ spaces. My son’s room became my “workroom” (in quotation marks because in fact I just keep stuff there and cart it out to my sofa for actual working); my daughter’s room became the guest room. However, that was 2015, and in January of 2016 we began the process of moving my mother to memory care. My time and intent disappeared into the subsequent chaos. Now, with chaos at bay and the end of 2017 approaching, I’m slowly, slowly finishing up. Guest room, meet your chaise longue. I don’t expect much lounging, but the long chair makes great clothing storage

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Even California Decorates For The Seasons, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:22am

I woke up early this morning, as usual. Today was darker than yesterday. Not just the infinitesimal shortening of winter daylight – our rain has arrived. The San Francisco Bay Area has a “summer dry” climate. Everything browns from June to October. Sometimes we have long, long droughts, but in a normal year, rain falls off and on from December through April. This is our winter, our green time. So in California, we grow and cocoon at the same time. Huh. I think that’s something I will need to consider, now that I’ve said it. It’s like we run to ground in our houses, but the natural world flourishes

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Big Chicken, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:41am

I cannot write long non-fiction to save my life. Like gluing beads on fabric, too many small but important things to track. My fingers get in the way. Fortunately for the world, others pick up that slack. For example, Maryn McKenna has published a new book. Big Chicken. The title! Maryn has commented here, she and I have met a couple of times. She’s elegant and smart and direct. Also the kind of writer who provokes an involuntary response, “Woman knows what she is doing.” In any case, Big Chicken tells the story of how modern agriculture came to rely on antibiotics to supply us with animal protein. I

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Comfort Or The Fight, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:06am

I have a weekend full of children to enjoy. A friend of mine in London just gave birth, and I am encouraging her to distribute lots of “baby spam.” Today I’m going to the 4th birthday of two cute twins I met in their first week of life and have celebrated ever since. It’s possible one of my own children might stop by later. Motherhood works for me. Sometimes I’d like to mother an entire town. Or at least a neighborhood. I wonder, what would it be like to live in a matriarchy? A society in which the skills of mothering – not the actual requirement to be

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Invisible Smoke, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:29am

It’s a full 80 minutes drive from my house to the southernmost tip of fires now burning in the Wine Country. And yet yesterday morning I woke up with a nose bleed. Today again. Our air smells of smoke, is full of tiny invisible particulate, and alternates between Unhealthy and Unhealthy for Select Groups on the Air Quality Index. We bought a new air filter and are staying inside but will want to buy masks if we go out. I tell you these details of little consequence, in the scheme of things, simply to give you a small and maybe more vivid impression of the Wine Country fires in Napa,

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The Artsy Cousin Quilts, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:55am

We might say that this time of my particular life has been about befriending my inner Artsy Cousin. Born Sturdy, trained in Grande Dame where required, cozying up to Artsy takes time. Worth the wait, if it’s a dream of yours. As you know, I didn’t make these High WASP archetypes up. The Grande Dame exists, the Sturdy Gal is real, and now I’d like to introduce one of my actual Artsy Cousins. This is Linda, my uncle Win’s oldest daughter. She made this quilt. I think it’s startlingly beautiful. Look at the detail on one of the poppies. And not to shock anyone’s system too badly, but

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Copying Texts Like Monks Illuminating, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:17am

Today is my birthday, as it happens, I am 61. I thought of something yesterday or the day before. The world likes to characterize aging simplistically – we’re either slumped in despair at our upper arms, or dancing as gray hair streams down our oh-so-supple backs. Neither true. Many of us who are this age have seen as many good changes as bad, and as many bad as good. Also known as you win some you lose some. My college professors taught me that the Renaissance happened in part because the monks discovered Greek and Latin history. The theory is that transcribing the texts of a rich past civilization

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I Am Not Linda Rodin, But, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:44am

(J. Crew shirt worn at the end of this post on New York Fashion Week, Madewell jeans and Ecco sneakers worn here, gold hoop earrings shown here, Bare Minerals GenNude lipstick reviewed here) I am not Linda Rodin. Isn’t she cool? And yet, when I read this interview with her on Cup of Jo, I felt a little spark of recognition. Linda says, Q: Was there a time in your life when you felt really beautiful? A: Right now. Truly, more than ever. Getting old gives you freedom. You can be cranky; people just say, oh, well, you’re a doddering old lady. You don’t have to make excuses.

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Fending Off Solutions, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:49am

I know I told you my tall old Chinese elm fell over this spring. Not that you needed to remember, of course. It kneeled down as I was looking out the window. No damage to our house, very little damage to anything, but we were suddenly treeless. That tree had defined the yard, and to an extent, the house. I have so many windows that used to look out on leaves, through which the sun now streams and streams. My garden also depended on the shade. Hydrangeas, ferns, dogwood, phormium, dicentra, myosotis. Lots of plants have burned. But I am not primarily sad. At first, yes. The tree was

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Searching For The Rewards Of Patience, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:15am

I know that when reading a blog I generally don’t want to hear about its inner workings. How often people write, their thought process about topics, oof, some part of me needs to suspend disbelief and expect magic.  With that acknowledgement, I’m going to go right ahead and turn on the klieg lights. Imagine a clank and whirr as they illuminate. Greasepaint in evidence. Sorry in advance. Although you guys are probably nicer than I and will forgive. OK. So. Going forward I’ll be blogging on Saturdays only. That doesn’t mean I will only write the kind of posts Saturdays have most often produced. I’ll keep up the

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Looking Heat Square In The Face, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:56am

As you may have heard San Francisco broke heat records yesterday, with temperatures of 106℉. Down here on the Peninsula we went even higher, to 108, but I was still happy to be in my suburban house. At least here we can open the front door (the back door the bedroom doors the windows) and hose down the patio to cool ourselves as black slate steams. And no, we don’t have air conditioning. Until this year it has never felt necessary. I’ve lived in this house since 1986, in the Bay Area off and on since 1960. While we’d always have 3 days here and there over 90℉,

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I Kinda Had To, Right?

Along with the new skirt, my birthday loot included a couple of pretty shirts that unfortunately didn’t fit. So I returned them to Nordstrom and came home with this in their stead. I kind of had to, right? Butterflies, on a cotton/silk blend that is my favorite kind of fabric almost in the whole world. I didn’t think the colors would work, but the lepidoptera is more brown than orange and I squeaked in under my personal yellow-hues percentage. With brown Dickers and an Étoile Isabel Marant jacket? Oh yeah. And I haven’t actually even had my birthday. Nice work family, thank you very much. Links may generate

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What To Wear When You Are Over 60 And It’s Too Hot For Jeans

As must be evident, I mostly wear jeans. The thing is, it’s gotten too hot to wear them in summer, at least around here. Long dresses are great, but, what if you just want something to throw on with a t-shirt? And if you’re thinking, wait, it’s fall, not here. In California we often get some of our hottest days in September. Enter a jersey tube skirt. This is what I asked my sister to give me as a birthday present, lo and behold her success. Some would wear this with a long shirt, on me I think it’s best with an adult crop top, AKA a short

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When Eyelids Behave Badly, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:38am

I had the weirdest illness this week. At least I think it was an illness but I’m not quite sure. One night I was lying on the sofa watching television on my laptop and something flew into my eye. Or so it felt. Not sure what it was, a bug, a feather, or whether indeed it was anything other than a body tantrum. Next thing I knew my eyelid had swollen dramatically. Stayed that way for a few days. My throat got sore, I got tired. I went to the doctor, she gave me antibiotic eyedrops, they are helping. But I do feel a bit as though I

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Humanity, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:58am

This is one of those moments when I don’t think I have an apolitical Saturday post in me. I could tell you that a Monarch finally visited my milkweed patch. I was thrilled, yes, but given the other events of this week in America I can’t do butterflies this morning. Let me leave you with a thought. An American I know who is married to a Swede and lives in Sweden told me there Southern Europeans aren’t considered “white.” What does that tell us? What then is “white?” What does this mean for the idea of “white” in America? Why is there “white?” You guys are smart. I’m

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Two Weeks In Scotland And England With My Adult Son: Part 2, England

England Actually let’s finish up Scotland. Because when you and I last spoke, my son and I hadn’t yet departed. Guess what happened when we tried to check in at the Edinburgh airport? Cancelled plane. Minxish conveyances! We had had tickets to Gatwick, final destination Brighton. Due to “an incident on the Gatwick runway,” and resultant shutdown of afternoon flights, British Airways had rebooked us to Heathrow. It’s only an hour from Gatwick to Brighton but Heathrow meant an hour+ ride into London and then another hour+ down to Brighton. Sigh. My son did an excellent job of talking me down. As did the Xanax I take to cope

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The Real True Circadian Rhythm Of One Retired Middle-Aged Woman, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:11am

Retirement is teaching me about my self, absent structure. Some lessons are grandly philosophical. “Where do I end and the world begin?” Some not so much. What are my circadian rhythms, for example, when I don’t have to be much of anywhere if I don’t really want to? Very early morning: Wake up. Isn’t life grand? So happy I have white walls. Gee whiz my down pillows are awesome. Early morning: Have breakfast at the kitchen counter and read the Internet. Ah, the tea, toast, and peanut butter + chocolate hazelnut butter I have been looking forward to since last night. There is no reason to ever change this

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Two Weeks In Scotland And England With My Adult Son, Part 1: Scotland

I’ve recently returned from two weeks travel with my adult son in Scotland and England. Having drafted this post and watched it get longer and longer, I’ll publish in two parts. Scotland below, England to follow as soon as I can manage. I’ve bolded each day, like this, because if it’s hard for me to remember and track what we did I can only imagine how confusing it might be for you. Tally-ho! Scotland was a revelation. That legendary land of dour people, terrible food, and worse weather? It doesn’t exist. Well, the weather is real. But the people are lovely, warm, funny, personal. The food is incredible –

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Late Summer Fritillaries In Loops And Circles, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:43am

Well hello August. It’s late summer. Not at all fall. But here in Northern California the sun seems to sigh, “Never mind.” It’s still hot, it will be hot for a few more weeks, maybe even months. But everything radiates less. However, in the Bay Area it’s also butterfly time. In anticipation, I’ve planted a passiflora, or Passionflower vine, I’ve grown a thistle up over my head, I’ve cleaned orange aphids off milkweed plans, with my fingers. That’s better done in gloves. Now I wait. The butterflies, if they come, are few and mostly solo. A Gulf Fritillary, whom I hope will have laid eggs on the passiflora. A

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Summer Break

In honor of summer, that blue-eyed 40-year old dancing under a pergola who throws back her head to feel her hair on her shoulders, I’m taking a few weeks off. See you in August, I wish you all possible fun under the sun.

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Regrouping And Reconnecting In Napa Valley

Sunday morning I realized I had completely forgotten to publish anything the day before. That’s the first time I’ve skipped a Saturday post, unaware. Why? A family gathering! Last weekend many of us went back up to the spot now re-branded as the Carneros Resort and Spa. My husband and I had been several times when it was the Carneros Inn. This time we took my father, my stepmother, all my siblings and most of their children too. My kids, sadly and happily, were both busy being grownups. Next time we will make sure they can come too. We rented two houses. With courtyards full of vegetation, dining tables, sun

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Other People’s Good Words, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:29am

Right now I like what other people are writing so much that I think I’ll stay quiet and post their links. From Mardel, about clearing out her closet, optimizing, finding the sweet spot for where she lives now. From Brenda, an over-60 blogger new to me, becoming more visible over-65. (I think about writing a post on how I’m loving my invisibility-at-will, but, maybe another day.) From Drew Myron, poetic short piece about the small things in bigger life. (She spends some time with elders.) From Sue at High Heels In The Wilderness, empathy and reading, and how they are linked. The Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget

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The Salubrious Effect Of Someone Else’s Friendly Eyes And Someone Else’s Stories

Here’s an excellent Vancouver wall! Oh, and I’m wearing a cheap old black trench, brown Bottega Veneta messenger, a new pair of cropped black Vince pants (cuffed! 60% off on sale!), tiger-printed Gucci slides, gold hoops, and a vintage silk Ferragamo blouse that was an early birthday present from my son. He bought it on eBay. I have never before worn vintage, unless we count those pieces I bought myself 15 years ago. My son thought the big cats on the blouse, and its coloring, would go well with my shoes. How right he was. Photo credit, BTW, to the ineffable Susan at Une Femme. Evolving That Personal

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Just A Simple Thank You, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:19am

  I’ve just returned from a trip. Do you all remember that Sue from Une Femme and I attended New York Fashion Week together last year? As it happened, we got along so swimmingly, and found ourselves to be such well-suited travel companions, that we thought we’d go somewhere together again. And then, ages and ages ago, I had met Frances of Materfamilias, with her husband, in San Francisco, and so enjoyed our conversation that I’d vowed to visit her in Vancouver some day. And so it came to pass. Sue and I flew up, Sue from Southern California, me from the Bay Area.   Let me reveal that I haven’t felt

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The Best Month In My Home Town, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:58am

June is California’s best month. Wait, I mean northern coast-adjacent California. Oh, to be precise, the San Francisco Peninsula (by the Bay, not the hills or the coast.) We have so many micro-climates, I can only speak to my own. So, here, June is a drug. Champagne. Eyes-roll-back-into-head beautiful. Sure, March has hellebores, native iris, forget-me-nots, all the shy flowers. May brings hedonistic roses. And it is also true that by June magnolia petals are browning, lawns yellowing, things that grow are preparing for summer sleep. But for we humans our June weather is almost too gorgeous to talk about. Sky blue like crayons, cool mornings and cool enough evenings, the smell

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Blue Nile’s 18th Anniversary Sale Is On

Blue Nile is offering 20% off some customer favorites, with code 18YEARS. It must be their 18th anniversary, good job guys! This discount is not nothing when it comes to a quite beautiful “garland” infinity ring originally priced at $4000+. And subtracts a couple hundred dollars off fancy basics like a diamond solitaire pendant. Just in case you’re pining for a few  twinkles, or hunting for a graduation present.   Links may generate commissions.

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Upside Down Backwards Right Way Round, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:02am

Two things happened in yoga this week. Don’t worry, the stories don’t require that you know the practice, or, if you know it, that you like it. So first, a teacher substituted in my Wednesday beginning class, and taught at an intermediate level. I was fine, I’m ready to edge forward. But there was a woman attending her first session at this studio, and I could see she had trouble following along. After class I went up to her and said, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to be intrusive, but I wanted to tell you, that was not a beginning class.” She thanked me. I thought I was helping, an

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How The Polished Tomboy Does Layers And Avoids Flapping Fabric

Layering. An excellent strategy to add interest to the extremely casual wardrobe. But tomboys (AKA Sturdy Gals) hate excess fabric. This is partly because it’s hard to carry heavy stuff around when our coats keep getting caught up, and partly because when long cloth panels hang from our broad shoulders we start to look like old-fashioned voting booths. Or superheroes. Enter short-over-long layers. You may remember that UNIQLO “Jasper Johns” tank from two summers back, as well as the short cadet blue UNIQLO field jacket from close to always. Add my new brown Dickers (alert alert these are on sale for 40% off at net-a-porter!), narrow-for-boyfriend 3 year-old Citizen of Humanity jeans (teeny

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American Writing, British Television, Travels, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:51am

It’s been a quiet week. I published a new post on Medium, here, in full awareness of my limitations. I first wrote the piece very simply, as a simple but preposterous proposal. For better or worse I couldn’t leave it that way. My internal voice of reason spoke too loudly. Retirement seems to be about having the time to help others and to understand yourself. I am who I am, even when I can see what rough hooks could do, I have to smooth the edges. I am unable to leave emotion alone without logic. There you have it. Speaking of smooth edges, here are two British television series I have loved to pieces.

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Sale at Perennial Usually Pricey Favorite, Net-a-Porter, Up To 50% Off

So, if you were wanting some patterned slides, you might try Net-a-Porter’s sale, which started this morning. These are from Sam Edelman, and are knocked down to $66.00. Or you might just need a cute little black ribbed cotton jacket. Or, wait, this navy cotton DKNY dress just kills me! So excellent! Please excuse the morning exclamation marks. But if I lived in New York I do believe I’d buy that dress right now. In any case, public service announcement now completed. Links may generate commissions.

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Looking Out To Sea, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:32am

Transcendence stayed home. When planning to take my mom to the sea I was driven by an image. Something to do with a horizon. Me and Mom. She sits in her wheelchair or stands with my help, the wind blows her silver and gold hair against those big sunglasses. Me, standing with her, bent over to put my face next to hers and align our eyes. The two of us sharing a view. In fact, something else happened. I’d made a timetable. My siblings being the people they are, people arrived at Mom’s memory care place on time. We left, on time. All in one car, my mother, my brother, my two sisters, my

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The Best Summer Pedicure(s)

A post shared by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on May 12, 2017 at 7:06pm PDT I have never cared for painted fingernails – I’m perhaps a brutal keyboarder but a) polish always chips and b) I’m startled by hand decor. Pedicures, I endorse. “Ah the feet of summer,”  one might sigh. I didn’t discover the joy of painted toes until my late 30s, but, I haven’t looked back. The only problem being how to ensure you like the color you choose. We’ve all found ourselves in Cement Gray, Day-Old Open Bottle Of Cabernet, or Lavender Dirtied By Woody Lavender Plants, at least once. So I’ve developed a reliable palette; polishes to own and bring along.

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To See The Sea Again, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:10am

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day here in the US. It’s also just about a year since we moved my mother to an assisted living facility. There she fell, broke her hip, had surgery, and moved to skilled nursing in the throes of post-operative delirium. Tomorrow my three siblings and I are taking my mom to the ocean for a picnic. Of course, given Northern California’s marine fog, it might be too cold to do much more than get out of the car, feel the salt wind, squint at the sky, and get back in. That’s OK. We can eat lunch in one of the small coastal towns. My mom has had a

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What To Wear To An Afternoon Wedding In A Tropical “Country Club” Setting

My daughter’s roommate got married a couple of weeks ago. Cue mother-daughter texting and phone calls, and texting and emailing, and texting and online shopping. Because, what does one wear to a summer afternoon wedding in a “country club” setting? A mother should know. I use those quotation marks because we’re talking about a deconstructed “country club.” Peel off the membership, a possible legacy of exclusion and privilege. Keep the sunlit ceremony with cocktails and dinner  outside, the nice indoor reception and rain default room. Add a layer of community and access because this is probably in fact a community center. But it’s not a barn or a farm. And it’s

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Down Here In The Flatlands, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:11am

It’s windy here this morning. I can see branches in my backyard whipped about and fluttering. It’s also a little chilly. Makes me think of the mountains, which is so odd, because I haven’t been to high altitudes since 2013. But if you’ve ever traveled to the Sierras you know what I mean, that thin air through evergreens. No layer between. But nothing quite so rarefied is happening here. Just a suburban morning with cool weather after three days of 90 degree temperatures. My stars it was hot. We’ve always had our little heatwaves in June or July, but I think this is the first time I can remember one in May. The heat was even harder

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Grinning At The Window With My Face Near The Floor, Or, Saturday Morning At 9:59am

My legs hurt. To be precise, my hips and the inside of my left thigh are sore because I took a hard yoga class. Yoga has begun to define a not small part of my retirement. I don’t go every day. I’m not good at extremes; moderation in all things means twice-a-week classes. But they resonate beyond my joints. You all know I’ve struggled with anxiety much of my life. Ever since college I’ve managed it by retreating like a bunny to a warren. Snuggled up against an ungiving wall, the reassurance of that which does not move. Including myself – some animals freeze instead of running. I have by no means turned

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A Few Really Pretty Pieces Of Jewelry For You Or A Dear One

Every now and again I feel we need a pretty jewelry post. For bonus ooh-ing and ah-ing. My sweet spot is small precious metal pieces that manage, by intelligent use of what we might call “jewelry white space” and good design, to act bigger than they are. And sometimes cost less than you expect. This pearl and diamond bar necklace from Catbird might explain what I’m trying to say. Without blather. See? The long bar occupies space, but mostly highlights what it doesn’t cover.  I.e. you.  Catbird has a lot of beautiful stuff. I gave this necklace to my sister one Christmas. I also love this from Blue Nile, an asymmetrical circle pendant

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Determined Hope, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:20am

I finally managed to post that piece about how I came to my political beliefs. It’s here. I’m now enjoying the relief of having done as I promised myself. And in the pause before I begin the next block of Things To Do, which includes everything from planting another abelia bush for putative butterflies to taking my car to the shop, I’ve been poking around the web. Other people have wonderful things to say: fun, moving, highly informative. Sue is at a style blogging conference, meeting other bloggers she’s long known online. If you’re on Instagram, here’s her feed. And if you’d like to see more photos from the conference, which

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Sale At Sephora Today And Tomorrow

Sephora is having what is apparently a bi-annual 15% off sale. I did not even know this was a thing. They tier it with their loyalty program (which I recommend, the rewards are frequent and fun). Today only, if you are VIB level (depends on how much you’ve spent, thank you Christmas 2016!) you get 15% off with code VIBSPRING. Tomorrow it’s 10% with code BISPRING for all Beauty Insiders (register online for membership) . My current replenish-on-outage items, i.e. the things I bought once and will buy again and should therefore have waited to stock until this sale but lesson learned, are the tarte BB cream (it is so silky

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Mostly Gadgets Complicate Life But Every Now And Then They Actually Simplify It

My 50s were quite turbulent, now that I think about it. Divorcing, misplacing a job, starting this blog, taking another job, remarrying, leaving a job. Children graduating college and finding their ways into the world of grownups. My mother moving to memory care and all those emergencies. So I am perhaps more focused on streamlining, on finding calm, than many people my age. Or maybe it’s universal in our 60s? I don’t know? Anyway, white roses and butterflies are pretty good for transcendent joy but for Zen give me a nifty appliance any day. I never expected to become a late night commercial but here we are. First, my Instant Pot. For all

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Digging For Origins, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:01am

So. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been drafting a piece for my Medium page about how I developed my political beliefs. Let me admit, it’s been hard. Super hard. Once I dug in I realized that I believed several things about politics and the economy without any more grounding than personal experience and emotional inclination. This writing is an iterative process. I write down what I believe – about the safety net, for example – and then I sit and try to figure out my thinking. Occasionally I remember some data I used, but not often. And then, this is the hardest part, I try to locate the origin of my belief in my past.

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Links To My 8 Favorites Among Victoria Beckham’s Collaboration With Target

And here are links to my 8 favorites in the Beckham/Target lookbook. Am very curious to see how these work when implemented in real fabrics in real life. All polyesters are not the same. Note that most pieces are available in both plus and standard sizes. White shift with kooky black flowers Shiny calla lily top and pants Embroidered “Marigold” tank Bee jacket Scalloped tank (lotta lotta scallops as decorative motifs) Black dress with white collar Little girl 100% cotton dress in a tea party print Baby black and white daisies on 100% cotton jammies I might just like the kids’ clothes best, now that I think about it.

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Victoria Beckham X Target Collaboration, Yes, You Read That Right And May Cheer

This Sunday the products of Victoria Beckham’s collaboration with Target go live on Target’s site. Possibly at midnight tonight – I haven’t gotten an answer about timing. The goods will be in stores too, although I hope not at midnight. I love Beckham’s stuff. Lady, meet Edge. At Barney’s, her stuff looks like this and costs >$2000. And here’s a sampling of what you will find at Target. For less than $2000. Nifty 50’s-type prints on a shift. Which is supposed to be “knee-length” on regular people, BTW. Calla lilies, times two. One could just get the shirt and wear it with jeans or a black skirt. Lots of this color, Beckham calls

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A Sense Of Purpose, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:58am

I was talking to my best friend yesterday (we raised our kids together, first she moved to Belgium, then to New Jersey, now we talk on the phone 3-4 times a week, but I digress), and we wound up at the topic of purpose. Research shows that people who feel a sense of purpose are better off. So as I sat in my car outside the yoga studio (I leave early for class so I can call my friend from the car, and often wind up sitting in a parking space, still chatting, as I wait for class to start, but I digress again) I tried to parse

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Polished Tomboy In A San Francisco Spring And Princetown Slides

The Uniform, in another guise. The moto jacket with black bag and bright patterned shoes is perhaps not as perfectly balanced as I’d like. (BTW no graphic tee, the shoes were enough.) But who among us is perfect every day? I felt fantastically cool whether I was or was not. And yes, I did succumb to the Gucci slides. The designers are doing such amazing accessories, almost like limited print editions. Scrolling through these options gives you an idea of what to my eye verges on mass artistry. Fortunately, as Sue shows with her customary aplomb, here, Jeffrey Campbell is giving us reasonably priced alternatives. Finally, I must

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Blue Berries Is Come The Stars, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:04am

I continue to volunteer in a local first grade classroom, twice a week. I am surprised by how much is expected of the children, and by the good will with which they attempt to comply. I’m there to help with literacy. What that means exactly has evolved over the year. There are 23 kids in the class, all but four of them speak only Spanish at home. Two of the Spanish-speakers haven’t yet learned English. And yet they are all starting to read and write in this new language. Can you imagine? Is this a primary marker of the immigrant experience? Home is one thing, your future in

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The Polished Tomboy’s 2017 Spring & Summer Uniform

I didn’t set out to build a Spring uniform, but here we are. Any time I want to leave the house looking put together I find I reach for my high-waisted cropped/ankle jeans (try 100% denim, you might be surprised how good it feels), a graphic/patterned tee, excellent shoes, and a light functional (AKA derived from a piece of clothing previously wore for a certain function, not meaning “non-broken”) jacket. Example. A post shared by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on Mar 10, 2017 at 4:12pm PST The brown Marants have proven to be quite versatile. They’ll work for fall and winter too. Here are some other options, at a

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Out And About In The Virtual World, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:23am

This week in the world on our screens. I posted an open letter to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, on Medium. A Medium editor liked it and put it in the top few recommended for that day. I was quite gratified. I went to a yoga class and emerged blissful, on Twitter. My heart may not be peaceful but it can surely access joy. — Lisa Carnochan (@AmidPrivilege) March 17, 2017 Fran, of the blog Franish, matched for her residency program in a couples match with her new fiancé. All the congratulations. And Sue of Une Femme d’un Certain Age and Allyson Walsh of That’s Not My

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Bandanas Of The Heart And Hearth

As the USA moves into spring we applaud the sun and light (even as we shiver in the evening or wake up to a blanket of March snow.) Is sky blue and cozy the perfect spring pairing? I recently bought this small “lace” cashmere scarf.   Perfect for spring days when the wind is colder than the sky would suggest. Worn under my Barbour, or J. Crew field jacket, a Northern California layering strategy par excellence.  Unfortunately Bompard sold out, but similar options are legion. Winter will come again. I might also replace the throw blanket I bought this winter. As the weather lightens, tobacco-colored wool feels heavy.

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When You Learn You Don’t Know As Much As You Might Have Thought You Did, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:13am

Since I announced I’d be changing my writing practice, moving to Medium to write about politics, I’ve been reminded of two little truths. First, learning something new presents difficulties you won’t foresee. Second, habits matter as much or more than intent. Leaning something new, well, I’ve learned that politics are hard. Ha! Cue riotous laughter all around. I should be more specific. Politics are hard to write about. See, while I can develop a political opinion pretty quickly – see a pattern and make an observation – this snap judgment methodology takes me only about 80% of the way to a substantive thought. In style, 80% works. The

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Local Girl Makes Good, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:23am

Remember these tights, from this post on same? By Marilyn Pollack Naron, the drawing is practical and charming at once. Happily, you can now browse a whole website of Marilyn’s work. So endearing. Want to be cheered up, or, alternatively, add to your already broad smile? Go look. Wait, there’s more, she has also illustrated a cookbook about meatloaf, authored by Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer. In other, sadder news, Leslie at Hostess Of The Simple Bungalow has lost her mother. She might feel support in condolences. Me I’ve done nothing lately except host a presumably quite robust rhinovirus. Cough. Am recovering. I hope you’re all healthy and

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A Proposed Methodology For Lips Over 50

I’ve written about lipstick before, here, and here. But I stumbled upon my current favorite when shopping with my daughter. Motivated by a desire for safer ingredients, we found this, by Bare Minerals. A matte liquid lipstick, it’s quickly kicked all my other lip colorants to the curb. The first application surprises, this stuff slips on like liquid clay. But it’s also surprisingly easy to use precisely, so no need for pencil outlining. I let it dry, then add lip balm on top. This is the most natural look I’ve ever found – not cake-y like some lipsticks, not overly shiny like a gloss. In fact, I’ll go

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Out And About In The Virtual World, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:27am

Morning. On Instagram, some spinners. The whirligigs of Year of the Rooster. A post shared by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on Feb 12, 2017 at 3:34pm PST On Medium, my struggle to understand the emotional infrastructure of political positions. On Twitter, two book recommendations. And other voices. Dani at Mop Philosopher gives us a couple of recent posts full of outfit color for a trip to Italy. The perfect Saturday morning browse. I do miss you guys. Hope all is well.  

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That Same Dress, Yes, Again, New Boots

#TBT, as they say, Throwback Thursday, to Valentine’s Day night. A post shared by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on Feb 16, 2017 at 8:52am PST As we see I succumbed to the brown boots, and having done so, realized I longed for a little blue to liven the look. Luckily, I’m blue-endowed. And so it went. Blue MaxMara three-quarters coat, same Prada dress I plan to keep wearing as long as I can, brown Dickers, and the earrings I had customized on Etsy for my brother’s wedding. The brown boots and fishnet stockings are infinitely more playful and less classic than black boots and black tights, but that felt

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If You Give A Style Sort Some Black Boots She’s Going To Want The Brown Ones Too

The other night we went out to dinner at Boulevard, a San Francisco institution. I wanted to get fancy, although it’s never required here, so I wore my Prada dress. Also black Isabel Marant Dickers, black Wolford tights, Blue Nile earrings, and this MaxMara camel coat. As I looked in the mirror, I realized I’d get a lot of use out of brown shoes to wear with that same dress. A photo posted by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on Jan 27, 2017 at 5:03pm PST After all, Prada is not inexpensive, and the fabric is woven to last another decade – at least. It would be only sensible to

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Some Days You Want To Save The World, Some Days You Just Want Pretty

In the midst of storms both political and thunderish, I’ve found myself drawn to pretty things. We were at the Stanford Shopping Center the other day and I saw this, from Stella McCartney. Beautiful. But expensive. I noticed Anthropologie is also offering decorative, almost painterly goods. Less expensive. Still pretty and a balance to passion. Links may generate commissions Save Save Save Save

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When You Just Can’t Be A Lifestyle Blogger Any More

Bear with me. Or not. I always appreciate your time. 2016 hit hard. We moved Mom as best we could, she has settled in, but Donald Trump became president. In my eyes that puts our most needy citizens at risk. I have to do something. For those who already know they won’t survive all ~1400 words below, and I do understand, let’s cut to the chase. I’m shifting my writing practice. In Brief I plan to write, for the most part, on new topics in a new venue. I won’t close up what we’ve built here, but I’ll be cutting back. Privilege becomes something more like Kim French’s

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The Sturdy Gal Hears The Call Of The Moors And Succumbs

I meant to get a J. Crew field jacket in black, but they discontinued the color. So, here I am now that California is raining. And raining. And raining. We shall call this Queen Elizabeth tromps the moors and then gets on a motorcycle. A photo posted by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:33am PST A Barbour Beadnell in waxed cotton. Classic, meaning boxy as heck. Meant to last for eons, if you send it back for rewaxing now and again. Worn with these Aquatalia boots, Citizens of Humanity jeans, a Stutterheim hat, and an old, old, grommeted belt. A little moto always saves the

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Twinning Round The World

I’m friends with a group of young women in the UK, and one of them wore this Boden sweatshirt in a selfie. So I got one too. Mostly cotton, comfortable, gold polka dots. Surely you would have done the same. Especially since it’s on sale for under $50. Surely you would have. Links may generate commissions

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Blue Nile End Of Year Sale With Bows On

Blue Nile is having their end of year sale. These bows are on back order – but try a phone call if you love them as I do. Good for a bride, traditionally, but even better with a motorcycle jacket. In fact, right now Blue Nile is offering some pretty good savings on diamond jewelry in general. If diamonds can be said to be “in general,” ever. Links may generate commissions.  

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When You Didn’t Know You Needed A Sequin Bomber Jacket But You Did

My Christmas present in this years draw. Thank you to my stepmother, who knew I needed this when I did not. Worn here on Instagram, on sale 40% off here. Note: I usually wear a size 6 or 8 in American jackets. I’m wearing this in a 34  – small, in other words, which makes it way better. Links may generate commissions Save Save

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Christmas, Happily, To Within An Inch Of Its Life

This year, as I predicted here, I went all out for Christmas. Or, as I say in the High WASP sardonic dialect we use around sentiment, to within an inch of its life. Having poked all manner of craft items into my front door cyclamen, I lit them. Burlap bow rimmed with gold; the same ribbon rumpled in the pot. Having purchased not one, not two, but three gaudy fake, um, I think, poinsettia garlands (oh, wait, Pier One tells me they are fake amaryllis, not remotely the same), I hung them. Next to two very cute and cold small children, courtesy my stepmother, 1992-ish. Up close. Any

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Taking Stock Of Online Life, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:01am

This morning I was poking around on Facebook. I decided, then and there, to winnow my “friend” pool. Why? I never meant to be on Facebook, I joined back when I was blogging in an anonymous High WASP way, I was connected to several people I don’t actually know and with whom I share very little. So I posted about my intentions, hoping in a non-anonymous High WASP way not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Then I “unfriended.” All this was, as I said there, pretty inconsequential. But it did make me want to ask you guys, how’s your online life these days? This is me. I blog here.

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The Books Of 2016 Were The Best Part Of The Year, But Some I Hated And Some I Simply Couldn’t Remember

Lucky for humanity, even the most awful of years give us good books. Thank you writers. I will confess that I have come to think about reading in terms of Use Cases, i.e. when, and in what form, I will read what. This is perhaps not the pure approach literature deserves. I would apologize but I’ve used up my store of sorries for the year and I hope a weak smile suffices. In any case, we’ve got: Books you want to live in. These you are going to want to page back into and back up out of. You will want to revisit the early chapters to see

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La Garçonne, Thoughtfully On Sale

A good sale’s on at La Garçonne, site for Polished Tomboy gear. While I’ve never enjoyed the models’ deadpan stares, and find some of the clothes too-too, they do very well at upleveled basics. Which Polished Tomboys appreciate beyond measure. Red tartan from from Comme des Garçons anyone? Isabel Marant also offers a gorgeous red wool moto jacket, Chimala’s got your 100% cotton selvedge denim, Julien Terry your anime-illustrated sweatshirt – oh, wait, maybe that’s mine. And, in the kind of creative retailing touch I enjoy, La Garçonne throws in a tartan Barbour scarf. We all can use a little help mixing it up. Oh, actually wait, socks

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Things I Know And Things I Don’t Know, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:33am

All this week I’ve been feeling anxious. Seriously so, for no discernible reason. I ran through the usual suspects; Mom’s affairs, preparations for teaching, blog posting schedule, life administration, the well-being of my children. Although there’s stuff, there’s always stuff, nothing warranted the deep cold dread I felt. Then yesterday, having crossed two particularly time-consequential tasks off my list, I knew. My mother’s Alzheimer’s has me rehearsing the future day after day after day. I worry so much about forgetting that I treat my obligations like beads on a string and run them through my mind’s equivalent of fingers, over and over again. Black beads, I think, volcanic

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Giving Presents Of Experience Is Like Giving Power

I remember last year, during the Christmas season, several of you commented that you prefer to give presents of experience. (And before I go any farther, let me just say to those who don’t celebrate Christmas the hubbub I know it can feel intrusive and exclusive and I do apologize but this year I need cheer and something to focus on.) But experience. I received an inheritance when I turned 21. I was still in college. I had no interest in fancy shoes, or diamonds beyond the ones in my mother’s jewelry box. But I still wished. My first splurges; I bought an impractical Alfa Romeo sports sedan

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Real Life Presents For Women From Bouncing Babies All The Way To Elders

Presents. We High WASPs we call them presents, even though the word “Present” doesn’t sound as good with “Guide,” as the word “Gift” does.  Let’s think about the women we might be giving to of all ages. For me, that means from 84 years to 5 months.     For my mother: Alzheimer’s appreciates repetition. The concept of a uniform takes on new meaning, supporting self-recognition. Without much thought, we packed Mom’s striped shirts for the move. Now we stick with that design to help her orient. Ease of dressing is also critical, someone is always helping. I’ve found the petite washable crepe pants from Eileen Fisher work

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Take Back Our Ray-Bans And Show Them What We’ve Got

This post is sponsored by Ray-Ban. All opinions are assuredly my own. Today I have one message for my fellow baby boomers; remind the young ones we’ve still got it. We still think and feel. We still style it out. But we’ve also been around too long to try too hard. You know what’s easy? Let’s take back our sunglasses. Yes, sunglasses. As I have said before, there’s no quicker way to add a little edge than a pair of Ray-Bans. Sturdy Gals rejoice. Why should the young define what’s cool? I’ve worn iconic Ray-Bans off and on my whole adult life. Here, blurry, blissful, in the Swedish

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Wrapping Up The Presents And Your House

Seems like a year to double down on Christmas wrapping. And I don’t just mean presents. I wish Christo would come wrap my whole house in crinkle foil and twinkle lights. Or red felt if the crew were so inspired. No, I haven’t bought even one present. I’ll do my shopping in a rush next week or the week after that. But decorating beckons, “Red me, green me, let me sparkle to my hearts content!” OK then. Accoutrements required? Lights I need new outdoor lights. I like to mix white icicles and individual red lights for a candy cane effect. It’s ever so tasteful. I’ve resisted LEDs so

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Believe The Rain Or The Drought Or Both, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:48am

It’s raining. This has been a terribly difficult year, personally with my mom, in public given the election. And yet I’m optimistic. Not in the way of platitudes, the gloss in which civilized people excel. But optimistic when you  admit everything’s been awful. Awful with teeth. You face it and fight it and believe anyway. I believe that people are good. I believe that life is good. I believe this because of the irregular splatting of raindrops and because joy. Joy. How could joy be so powerful if we were not good? If life were not good? It’s raining. We had years of drought, and today it’s raining.

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Black Friday And Cyber Monday Sales, A Giveaway Winner, And, No, I Won’t Be Going Into Stores If I Can Help It

I hope all the readers in the USA in had a great Thanksgiving, and that everyone else had a great, well, Thursday. Below is my list of Thanksgiving weekend sales and deals.These are all retailers or services I’ve shopped at, been in contact with, or coveted from, over the years. I will update this post with any new information as Cyber Monday arrives. Charity Let’s kick off with the news that Patagonia is donating 100% of their Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups. Thank you Patagonia, it’s good to have a planet. Clothing On to our core shared interest. What to wear? What to give to people

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Bootvana For A Rainy City

Do you know what drought does to a shoe collection? Encourages a preponderance of suede. And shoes perforated all which ways. So we’d been having a little rain in Northern California and I needed boots to wear in the city. Boots without perforations. Boots that repel water. Boots that do not bring to mind mucking about on the moors. Welcome to Bootvana. And an iPhone photo. I felt so cool I was willing to let my belly show. Those are the the Aquatalia “Yulia” Waterproof Chelsea boots for women. Classic, modern, comfortable, a little sexy. And yes I know water can seep through the gusset despite Aquatalia’s weatherproofing

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And For My Friends Here, Today For Those Who Comment, Guest Towels In A Giveaway From Samuel Scheuer Linens

Fun story with an even better ending. I ordered a whole slew of these Henry Handwork embroidered guest towels, and posted about them here. I admit I want to ornament the holidays this year, to gather my loved ones close in a fairy tale house of High WASP fripperies. The store, Samuel Scheuer Linens in San Francisco, must have noticed all you nice people visiting their site, because their rep got in touch with me and offered to send me either another pair of towels or a set of cocktail napkins, as a thank you present. Wasn’t that unexpected and nice? But since I had already ordered abundantly

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Volunteering To Teach, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:51am

I went back to school on Wednesday. Not as student, but volunteering again as I did last year. The teacher was finally ready to open her class to helpers. This is first grade, in a well-to-do suburb on the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula. Kids from the east side of town comprise most of its pupils. And on this particular east side, almost all the families have come from Latin America. Some just last week. Parents speak Spanish. Children speak Spanish too, but only the most recently arrived speak no English. Kids learn very quickly. I work with them on reading, in groups of four. There are 24

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Friendsmas Has To Come Early Because Friends Make Presents By Hand

Here’s an early thought about Christmas. Why early? I’m a last minuter myself, and here in the USA we need to take time for Thanksgiving. But today we’re celebrating Friendsmas, in which I let you know who in this community is making goods, or offering services, that you or someone you know might like. And the Friends, small businesses all, really appreciate some time to schedule your photo shoot or make up your order. Meg at Pigtown*Designs, household sundries Last year Meg brought us mother-of-pearl flatware. That’s still on offer, but here’s the real news. Tea towels! Designed by Meg, printed in on a cotton/linen blend with non-toxic

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Can I Wear Navy And Black Together? Yes, And Even For Holiday Parties

Today, Sue of Une Femme and I are giving you our take on black and navy, unappreciated color combination that it is, and dressing up for the holidays. While navy and black may not give you the punch of, say, red and green, or black and silver, for those of us who like our style subtle the combination can be fun to play with. Just remember, because the two colors are so visually similar, you want to use texture and layout to amp up the look. Layout? What am I talking about? I’m pretending you’re a magazine and I mean a pronounced silhouette and white space, i.e. your

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The Ideal Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools For The Meal I Don’t Have To Cook This Year

This Thanksgiving I’m not cooking. And I’m thankful. In past years I’ve gone to town with various menus. This year both kids will be elsewhere, and my husband and I, as we did in 2014, are going out to eat. Let us hope the food is better this time. As we enjoy the lacuna, for one must grace quiet moments with their own Big Words, I’ve been wondering, what might be the ideal set of Thanksgiving kitchen tools? If one were to start from scratch? Let’s define ideal as a) suited to function b) no more than needed but as good-looking as possible, and, c) as often as

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Your Emergency Response Is Your Mirror, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:50am

Let’s see, today is Saturday, right? So, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, four days since the US election. You all may be elated, you may be in mourning, maybe angry, maybe trying to calm down. You’ve been bombarded by news about this event and by other people’s difficult feelings about it. So today I am not going to discuss America’s election directly. However. When you are 60 you develop a certain capacity for self-observation. As though your blood and guts and feelings shrink away from the racing neurons of thought, leaving space. I’ve been observing my reaction to the events of November 8th and I’ve learned something about myself.

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A Review Of Leota Dresses, Made In New York City, Perfect For The Working Woman

“Ilana” dress in “Argyle” print c/o Leota || MaxMara wool and cashmere camel coat (similar) || Stuart Weitzman kitten heels (suede in multiple colors) || Georg Jensen Mobius strip bracelet from my maternal grandmother (yes the house makes more than household goods) || Birthstone necklace from Rachel Jackson || Bottega Veneta crossbody bag A couple of months ago, as I stood in the checkout line at Whole Foods, vaguely annoyed for no good reason (it happens), I was cheered by a few passers-by. Across our Silicon Valley landscape of All Pants All The Time, suddenly, a flock of jersey dresses. Several young women so attired, moving with a

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On The Edge Of A Boom

Where do you sit – on the edge of a wave, on the crest, sliding down the back as the height passes, or down in the trough? What on earth am I talking about? Your relationship to population booms and busts. Where do you sit? Just recently I read The Girls, by Emma Cline. It’s a story of a teenager who becomes part of a group that resembles the cult led by Charles Manson. Very well written, well enough that I wished it had told a longer story. I was brought back quite sharply to my teenage years. And yet not quite. In 1969 the protagonist is 14.

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Surprisingly Full Of Energy, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:17am

For superstitious reasons I hesitate to tell you, but, this past week I’ve had a burst of energy. I almost don’t know what to do! Except use a rare exclamation mark in a blog post. Does this happen to you? I used to buzz at a high frequency all the time. Until I’d collapse, spent, for a day on the sofa reading magazines, (remember magazines?) watching television, and eating snacks. All at once. But the past couple of years I’ve been decidedly tired. In 2015, 6 months of hormonally-driven health problems left me prone way more often than reasonable. In 2016, of course, my mother’s transition from her

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And For Your Friday Amusement, Special Blue Nile Discounts Just For Privilege Readers

The week is winding down. Or done. You’re at your desk, hearing the sound of the customer service people gathering for an in-office happy hour. You’re 30 years older than all of them. You’ll go, it’s what leaders do, but you take a moment to clear your mind with retail recreation. Or the week is winding down. Or done. You’re on your sofa, children fed, bathed and in bed with your dear one reading them stories. You’ll go in to sing lullabies in a minute, but you’re just browsing. Almost without thought. And lo and behold, a couple of Blue Nile discount codes just for Privilege readers. Oh

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Can A Mother And Her Daughter Wear The Same Sequined Skirt?

You already know the answer to the headlined question. Back in 2012 I bought a sequined skirt at All Saints. I wore it to the office holiday party with a black cotton button-front shirt, black Louboutins (these days you might prefer the pointy-toed version), dark red nails, gold bangles, and a family diamond-embellished cuff (I think this modern one’s similar in feeling). I colored my hair in those days. There are lots of sequin options this year, if you’d like to follow suit. Sequined Skirts For Mother And Daughter (scroll right) I wore the skirt again that Christmas night, with a white Anne Fontaine shirt and seriously tacky

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Have You Ever Wondered What Austin Is Like?

I’m just back from from my first trip ever to Austin, Texas. I’d happily go again. I was visiting two of my college roommates. Such a pleasure. They picked me up at the airport on Thursday night, took me to dinner here, then housed me, then fed me some more. In short, whole hog hospitality. Oh, and showed me the city. Friday morning we walked around and over Lady Bird Lake. Gorgeous weather. Then we went to lunch at Zocalo, for Tex Mex. Here’s the exterior of the restaurant – which seems, despite the ordinariness of the image, to capture something of the city. Rangy greens, outdoor tables,

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Wondering What Sixty Is, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:10am Central Time

I’ve had the occasion these past few days to see old friends. As I’ve told them, I’m researching. They both had their 60th birthdays earlier this year, and I want to benchmark our age. I find myself asking them all kinds of questions. “What is your dream of the future? In that future where will you live?” “Are you ready for grandchildren?” “What is the hardest thing you have gone through to date? Do any effects linger?” “Do you have beauty secrets?” “How about Botox or injectables?” “What percentage of your day is spent content? How much disturbed, or blissful?” “Do you get tired more easily these days?”

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Picking Up A Few Household Items That Just Might Help Prepare For Guests Who Just Might Be Coming For Holidays

We’ve been feathering the nest, a tad. I know nobody wants to talk holidays yet, so I won’t mention Thanksgiving, or Hanukah, or Christmas. We’re safe as far as Diwali, since I don’t celebrate it, although these days I see its lights around town more often. How about we call today Investing In Our Hospitality Infrastructure? Guests, no matter when or why, are expected. Cooking Gizmo With Loads Of Promise For example, we’re now the owners of an Instant Pot. I’m kind of embarrassed, as though I didn’t know late night television ads are bunk. We bought it because I wanted a rice cooker with a stainless steel

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How To Build A Simple But Powerful Work Wardrobe, From Scratch

A couple of weeks ago, one of you asked for my thoughts on how to build a work wardrobe from scratch. Ah, work clothes. I remember them well. Above, the garb I wore to present to the New York Stock Exchange in 2008, just before the bottom dropped out of the market. I don’t think that was my fault. Here’s an outfit from my 2011-2013 gig at a San Francisco Internet company. Context is all. Wasn’t showing a lot of bustline at the stock exchange, to be honest. So, were I starting again, everything brand new, what to do? I’d want my clothes to be enjoyable and useful,

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Falling Digital Flowers, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:37am

Way back in 1960 my family moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to the San Francisco Bay Area. Although I spent my college, grad school and early career years in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and my family’s from the Northeast, I feel quite rooted here. Over the past 6 decades my home, now often known as “Silicon Valley,” has changed almost beyond recognition. Mostly I would rather it were otherwise. I miss our open spaces, a small town feel, the departed general shabbiness. Mostly. Last weekend, however, I was reminded again to stay open to growth. Fairly recently PACE Gallery opened an outpost on the former site of a

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Did Everybody Else Already Know This?

I have a secret to tell you. Or maybe I’m the last to know? Men’s wallets are better than women’s. At least if you carry a small bag and/or are looking to jettison carrying weight. I made this astonishing discovery in September. I wanted to bring my Céline bag on the trip to New York Fashion Week, but it’s way smaller than the Bottega Veneta large hobo that I usually carry. So I bought myself a new wallet. I stuck with BV, but I picked a man’s version. It’s gray, which I love. Neutral but not black. Also works with my brown messenger crossbody. I wondered, at first,

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The Small Fall Of The San Francisco Bay Area

In the USA, Fall has been usurped. The Northeast rules our iconography, and yet. Sweaters, boots? It’s still in the 70s where I live. Waves of forest red? We’re still growing roses. I’m here to represent other autumns. We know when the oleander drops. You see, contrary to popular mythology, California does have a fall. It’s just small. It comes when summer has passed, when the concrete of our driveways cools down. Before winter, when it rains. Or doesn’t rain, so we gather at the dinner table worrying about whether it will rain. Our light changes. But we have to pay attention. In summer we close our eyes

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The Winner Of The Blue Nile Mini-Birthstone Pendant, And, Thank You For Your Stories

Cat won the draw for the birthstone pendant. She wrote, “Although my birthstone is peridot, green has never been my color. I would opt for aquamarine to bring a touch of the sea to my decidedly earthbound day-to-day.” Congrats, Cat! Please ping me at my skyepeale email, with your mailing address, and Blue Nile will send you the necklace. I’ll probably say hi too:). A few of the other comments on our seasons and times, real and in dreams. Anita Jenkins wrote: “In Edmonton Alberta Canada where I live, my birth month of May is one of the best times of the year. The leaves are coming out

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Thank You Internet For Growing My Ideas On Friendship, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:16am

I know we often bemoan the state of the Internet. Surely it’s been a home for some of the least civil, most bullying words we’ve ever heard in broad company. But let’s take a balanced view. That’s how we find our way. The Internet has also opened up whole new ways of finding and having friends. On the blogosphere we talk mostly about kindred spirits. Whether for surfaces – someone else who loves butterflies! someone else with broad shoulders! someone else who grew up with iced tea spoons! – or depths – you too divorced, lost your temper, lied and felt terrible about it and hoped to be

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The Key Motif Of 2016, And Maybe 2017

In these days where fashion welcomes, nay proliferates, all kinds of silhouettes, we find ourselves designating “It” items to replace absent mandates. The It bag, those shoes, or, occasionally, that “motif.” Do you remember a couple of years ago – bird prints everywhere? This year, I’m noticing butterflies. Which pleases me to no end. As a fan of the actual creatures, I’m happy to see them figured in home and on persons. I know some people are scared of them. I get it. They are bugs. They do have scary legs. But the symbolism is lovely. In China it means young love that never dies. Let us not

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Shopbop 25% Sale On All Kinds Of Stuff Starts Today

Hi guys. Shopbop, an online retailer that specializes in not-cheap but not-always-too-much modern-but-not-neessarily-cutting-edge will be running a sale for the next three days. 25% if you buy up to $500, 30% off if you haven’t gotten around to fall wardrobe updates and want to dive in deep. Code is MAINEVENT16, I suppose because this is the site’s main sale event of the year. There are a few brands and items not included, but the sale runs pretty broadly. I know I’d wear this sweatshirt 2-3 times/week, because a) sweatshirt b) randomly distributed embroidered stars. If only they had it in a Medium. Lucky you Larges. And Shopbop is

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Are Birthstones Only For The Birthday Girl? And Is Your Birth Stone The Only One You Get With Meaning?

After all the posts about my birthday, you guys deserve a present. When Blue Nile got in touch with me about another giveaway recently, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I confess, Part One involved something for me. As you may know, I rely on chandelier earrings to elevate my Extreme Casual. As you may also know, most days I wear this necklace, two diamond solitaires dangling from one chain. The second stone, invisible in this photo, is round. I love the necklace, it has sentimental value and occupies my favorite casual luxury space. But it doesn’t go with these chandeliers. I knew a big necklace

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Introducing “Dearly Beloved: Millennial Mother Love,” The Series, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:30am

I want you to meet someone. Privilege buddies, meet Sarah Finnie Robinson. Sarah, meet Privilege. Why the introduction you may wonder? This week Sarah started a blog series at the Huffington Post. She calls it, Dearly Beloved: Millennial Mother Love. I will let her explain in her first post. By the way, she is writing to her three grown children. Hi kids, I’ve decided to launch a blog series for you. Before you cringe, consider this: You are all grown up and gainfully employed, married even, and living in cities all over the country, busy doing all sorts of wonderful things in the world. But I am still

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A Review Of The Auberge du Soleil In Napa Valley, With A Whole Slew Of Photos

My husband really wanted to do something special for my 60th. I dithered, but did not resist. Most of all I wanted to go away with him somewhere new. So we spent the weekend of my birthday at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley. You check in at the top of a hill. The building houses the dining room, the bar, the reception and, hey, sculpture! But you are well-advised to let yourself go downhill from there. The rooms are housed in many small buildings. Clusters of rooms, I suppose one might say, or bunches, like grapes, since we’re in Napa. All of them open directly to the

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Thank You Everyone, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:36am

Turned 60. Up, up, and away. Am still celebrating, albeit with feet firmly par terre. I’m not one to say it’s just a number, a birthday of this moment and magnitude. Milestones mark passages, even if we don’t know quite where we’re going. My goal is to merit the journey. Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes yesterday, and for reading whenever. Your presence matters. As always, have a wonderful weekend.

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When Fuchsias Wander And Anemones Erupt

I like gardens for some of the same reasons I like middle-aged cities. Buildings and shrubs hunker down in place; although things change year to year and season to season, you can find your way around. Just recently I moved my pot of fuchsias. Now if that isn’t one of the silliest English sentences ever written I don’t know what is. But, my fuchsias are different in their new place. I see them differently, they interact with the green background in new ways, I imagine even they are surprised. The marigolds and alyssum trailed along, as younger kids will. While this new spot felt very right, at the

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A Few Singular Pieces Make Retirement Style Very, Very Simple

In a suburban retirement, one really doesn’t need all that many clothes. Unless one volunteers at a high level and attends glam events. The rest of us can live pretty simply. This doesn’t preclude style. I find that the best way to enjoy dressing simply is to find best-in-class pieces that I can wear over and again. So, as a jeans, tees, and flat shoes kind of person, I mostly want: Jeans that suit my body, in both comfort and aesthetics. Exactly what this means will differ for everyone. I like a medium wash with straight legs. You may prefer dark wash low-waisted skinnies. Or stretch leggings. Tees

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How I’m Voting And Why, Even If We Disagree On Several Things, You Might Do The Same, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:17am

Just when we can’t bear to listen to any more politics, it seems we must. I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I tell you this because it appears that many more voters are undecided than I would have hoped. There are many reasons why you might vote for Trump which will render my thoughts meaningless. I understand. In particular, your feelings about social issues, particularly issues with religious import such as gay marriage, women’s rights, abortion. Also your feelings about open borders, both inside and between countries, by which I mean (broadly) immigration, race, national defense, trade agreements. Those opinions will tend to narrow choices. They narrow mine.

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A Review Of The Lotte New York Palace Hotel In Midtown Manhattan, A Surprise Bonus Budget Hotel, And Four Exemplary Restaurants

I lived in Manhattan from 1979 until 1984. I’ve visited as often as possible since I left. But to this day I can’t say I have a favorite place to stay in the city. Or a favorite restaurant. Every trip is new. However, I do have some recommendations, and photos of where I stayed for Fashion Week, and what we ate. For a city so big, and so open to growth, sometimes that which we have experienced most recently is the best On to the details. The New York Palace Hotel (now prefixed with “Lotte,” was “Helmsley” back in the day) Last week I stayed at the New

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Brief Internet Support-A-Friend Request Which Involves Looking At 4 Photos Of People Caught In Actions

My friend Laura, the photographer at Baby Picture This, is in the running for a Canon photography prize. I wrote about her work here, and here, these days her career is expanding. I know it’s kind of a big favor, I don’t take these things lightly, but if you could possibly go vote for her picture here on Facebook, I’d appreciate it – enormously. No additional Liking or Signing Up to do, just comment on the post with the number of her photo. (Update: let’s vote even if Germany is done;)) Which is 4. There are in fact 4 photos to review, theme is Pursuit Of The Shot.

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Bringing Home Fashion Inspiration From #NYFW2016 And Liking A Big Plaid

Often we who live lower-case suburban lives wonder what on earth upper-case Fashion has to do with us. We don’t see ourselves easily in the Big Trends – shirts without shoulders, coats covered in jewels, heels that tilt so far forward we need a strong headwind as scaffold. So how to incorporate just enough of something new in our wardrobes that we can feel current? Not trendy, not cutting-edge, just of this era? We pick and choose. This year, I’m considering the Big Plaid. I do not know why it looked so interesting, perhaps in contrast to the stripes and florals prevalent in recent years? In any case,

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Who Is Feeling Autumnal? Or, Saturday Morning at 8:20am

Feeling autumnal? Wait, what does that term even mean? In California, a cooler sun, a hope of rain. More brown than green, more red than pink, no yellow in sight. We use “autumnal” to talk about our lives, too, right? We can feel autumnal, even in the bright sun. Particularly as we age. Here’s what Shakespeare thought. I’ve always loved those first four lines. That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou seest the twilight of such day

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How To Attend New York Fashion Week When You Don’t Have An Invitation Or Even Much Of A Clue

Dress: MaxMara | Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Earrings: Blue Nile | Bag: Céline | Watch: Apple | Exceedingly rare curled hair: CONAIR I’ve always wanted to go to Fashion Week. Well, not always. It’s so hard to avoid hyperbole in this kleig-lit era. Let’s say I’ve wanted to attend ever since I started blogging, and NYFW became a thing, and then eventually a hashtag. #NYFW2016, ain’t we modern. Dress: OAK | Shoes: Birkenstock | Hat: Nordstrom | Bag: Céline When Sue at Une Femme asked me to make a trip to NYC with her this September, I was tempted. But I was also deep in the throes of

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Going For It, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:10am Eastern Time

New York has been extraordinary. And I’m ready to go home. It was a quick trip but full and audacious. Sue of Une Femme d’un Certain Age and I managed to see the whole Tom Ford show from outside the back window of the Four Seasons. My best friend and I took a pedicab tour of New York, rode the subway on a 90 degree day in a car without air-conditioning, and ate at Katz’s Deli. My son and I got seated at Lisa Hoang’s show, as walk-ins. I’ll tell you all about it next week. This week. Where are we in the calendar again? And if I’ve

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Choosing A New House Number For A Modern Slash Traditional Slash California Slash Ranch

You may remember, we had our house repainted about two years ago. What I haven’t yet told you is that we subsequently began to receive a lot of postal mail that wasn’t ours. Did I understand the root cause immediately? No I did not. I’ll wait here while you infinitely smarter people figure it out. Notice anything missing in the photo below? Under the pyracantha berries, interlaced with white oleander for that one-two midcentury California landscape punch? We’d removed the house number and never put it back. To make things worse, our curb stencil had faded almost beyond recognition. Occam’s Razor at work. But, I didn’t want to

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25 Things I Did On My Summer Vacation

Well hi everyone! Yes, that was a whole month off. Seems like nothing, right? Here’s what I did. Learned things. As it turns out, August is butterfly time in my neighborhood. Sighted, a Gulf Fritillary, Common Buckeye, Painted Lady, one possible Monarch, innumerable and varied Skippers. Also learned that planting milkweed does not guarantee Monarch colonies. Mourned. Held out hope for next year. Watched the long hot summer finally cool down. Bought some new t-shirts at Barney’s, UNIQLO and J. Crew. Got more new t-shirts from UNIQLO Japan as a present from my son who’d been in Asia for the summer. One is printed with Winnie the Pooh.

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Back After Labor Day Leaving Some Older Posts For Your Review, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:42am

Hi my cute buddies. I have kept blogging through the events of my mother’s care, rather than taking my usual quarterly week-long breaks.  But I’ve reached the time to take a deep breath and recover. Nothing is perfect. Mom’s not going to get better, per se. But I have high hopes that her new facility is a place for her to experience as happiness as is possible. Signs indicate so. Me, I’m going to lie low and urge my adrenaline to do the same. Several metaphors have come to mind about recent months. For example, I’ve been in Afghanistan. Now I’m still in the desert, but at least

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Choosing Makeup For Your Adult Daughter, Especially When You Are Looking For Non-Controversial Ingredients

Over the years I have often bought my daughter new makeup. It’s so fun, gilding a lily. In college, gold eye shadow. Last year, red lipstick. And last week, for her 29th birthday, new all around – this time focused on minimizing controversial ingredients.* I took her to Sephora for a free mini-makeover. You pick one feature for the makeup artist, we chose eyes. (Never fear, fierce mama managed to get advice on the full gamut.) The artist recommended the Tarte line, for both aesthetics and ingredients. (And I know they use a lower case T in their branding but in a blog post that just makes me

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Get Out Get Going Have A Birthday, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:08am

This week my daughter turned 29. Hoo boy. She also came home, as all her friends are getting married this summer, some of  them in Northern California. On her birthday itself, we went hiking. In Huddart Park, in case you are familiar with the Bay Area. She, as always, since birth even, a glorious creature. Me proving that yes, there is an outfit Ray-Bans can’t fix. Water bottle in hand. And both of us dusty, hot, peaceful and happy. Surrounded by trees. Exclaiming at three pileated woodpeckers and a California Sister butterfly we didn’t even bother to photograph. Happy birthday honey. It is a pleasure and constant honor

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How To Grow A Gardenia In The San Francisco Bay Area, And Other Dialogues

Harbor a hidden guilty love of gardenia fragrance, for 30 years In November, hire your fabulously talented garden designer to redo your backyard Respond, “Yes,” when he asks if you’d like him to put a gardenia in a pot, hidden from sight around a corner of your house Stare blankly at the resultant green and bloomless plant for months. It will stare blankly back at you. This is now your relationship. Cheer when a bunch of buds burst out Curse when said buds brown and wither and drop, not a flower in sight Go google everything you can about Why Won’t My Gardenia Flower San Francisco Bay Peninsula

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The Joy Of Non-Misery At This Moment, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:41am

I moved Mom Thursday. Currently having a non-awful Saturday morning. It’s astonishing how much one can learn from sheer dreadfulness. Horribility. Having often proceeded with one foot in the present and one foot in a shiny future vision, I’m now looking at, well, now. Turns out that an imagined happy future gilds the present, but, if it doesn’t come true, everything gets really bleak. Lowering expectations doesn’t have to be depressing. There may be a different, smaller, grainier joy in a skeptical reality. In any case, in this particular now, I wish you a wonderful, in-the-moment weekend. Or at least a Saturday morning. Deep breath.

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What Shelter Magazine Are You? (And Wait, What Is A Shelter Magazine Anymore?)

Having examined, in the recent past, cultural identity, I thought we might move on to house style. As one does. Who among us has not undertaken Cosmopolitan and Glamour quizzes purporting to explain ourselves to ourselves? Who among us has never succumbed to a Facebook slideshow in an attempt at the same? So, What Shelter Magazine Are You, v.2? (We’ve done this before, a while back) How about Dwell? I love the minimal, rustic, craggy-vistaed look, but, since I don’t have a pristine grassy plateau available at the moment, I can’t say this is me. Impractical. Elle Decor? I love the photo below, but I realize that in

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If I Were Shopping At Nordstrom Today

A long time ago I bought this dress. It’s by Eileen Fisher, the only piece from that line I’ve ever owned. (It’s not dissimilar to this, available today.) I still have it. But it’s self-belted, and looks one notch below polished. Recently, no longer feeling like someone who wants to wear seersucker ankle-tied wedges, I bought these shoes. (Marked down now from $395 to $264) I still have them. They are perfectly polished, in a naked leather 70s-referent kind of way. So finally, I feel ready for the dress to come into its own, and get ironed for heaven’s sake. I want it to act like a lady,

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The Alarms Of Care, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:32am

On Thursday, we moved Mom’s furniture, again. Why? Well, we’d originally set up a room in the Memory Care unit of her current facility. We kept it while Mom’s been on the Skilled Nursing side, as we hoped she’d move back in. Instead, this week we will be moving Mom to another place altogether. Never mind. I wanted to tell you about beeping. Moving the furniture required that we prop open not one, not two, but three alarmed doors. When open, the doors beeped, or chirped, or buzzed. Loudly. So loudly. There were three of them, all with slightly different sounds, all on slightly different timers. You could

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Even High WASPs Hug Sometimes, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:44am

The world is on fire. Or so it seems. Anything I can say that isn’t political is just a truism. Why don’t people like each other better? Are we not all human? Life is sacred. Oh I wish. I do know that pockets of humanity remain. Are probably prevalent. Neighbors stop by and volunteer to care for toddlers, people hug strangers, we sing happy birthday. You here are one of my pockets of humanity. I hope you feel the same. I’d say have a good weekend, but that does feel like a singular privilege this morning. So how about a big virtual totally non-High WASP hug? Communal sorrow.

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Estate Sale In Santa Barbara This Weekend, And Then A Large House With A Beautiful View To Rent

If you like estate sales, and live close to or in Santa Barbara, the estate sale for the furnishings of my mom’s house is being held this weekend, July 9-10. I use the passive voice, against my writerly preferences, because it’s accurate. We are not holding the sale ourselves, we the children. We’ve hired a firm to do it. As such, the firm will sell the house goods along with some other pieces they’ve collected from other sales. That’s how the living room looked, the last time everything was still in place. That’s an upstairs guest room. The prints are illustrations from Alice in Wonderland. My stepfather took

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Cultural Signifiers, Whatcha Got?

Here in North America, we’ve just emerged from a brief flurry of national insignia-waving.  (Hey there, Canada!) Which made me think, what are the signs of our micro-cultures? Forthwith, the High WASP Cultural Directory, Northern California Regional Variant Color: Navy blue. As I told you, early on. Accents in pale pink, spring green or a sophisticated mustard. Your choice. The pursuit of happiness and all that. Fabric: Cashmere, cotton poplin, and, judging from my mother’s closet and the wardrobes of my Eastern cousins, dupioni silk. Shoes: Usually expensive. Often elegant. But they had dang sure better be comfortable. Scents: Lavender, bay laurel. Astringency is us. Food: Here geography

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Whither Civility, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:52am

I don’t miss formal much at all. I don’t really care what fork someone uses for their fish, nor in what direction they scoop their soup. I never wanted my kids’ friends to call me Mrs. So-and-So because Lisa is just fine. But I miss civility. And I miss the grace notes of civility, augmented civility, often conflated with formality but not the same thing. There’s so much yelling these days. I refuse to talk politics here, not because they don’t matter, they do, but because for whatever reason we seem to have lost the ability to speak in civil tones about civic matters. There’s virtue in kindness

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A Small But Abundant Garden Party, In Green, Pink And Aqua – With A Bit Of Gold

The party for my stepmother was beautiful. A little gem of a fête. Spring green tablecloths, white chairs, turquoise and mint Chinese lanterns in the bright, bright sun. Gold-rimmed chargers. Low-power wires courtesy our telephone company, I have suggested they bury them, many a time, for some reason no ones’s jumped at the chance. Below, a well-stocked bar with a bartender to come. I moved the fuchsia into the corner of doom. The blossoms put their heads down and best feet forward as good sports must. Catering. For 17 people. So wonderfully abundant, thanks to my father. I made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Baking is not

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Happy Birthday Brigitte, Or, Saturday Morning At 7:28am

Today we’re hosting a back yard party for my stepmother. She turned 75 a couple of weeks ago, and while someone may deserve a fête more than she, it’s no one I know. I post the magnolia above in her honor. I was hoping it would still be blooming creamy white today, alas, it’s browned in the heat. As a photographer, with a history of flowers, I know she’ll understand. Happy birthday, Brigitte. And all the love of the decades. You all have a good weekend. Save Save Save

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Meanwhile, In The Garden, Light Comes And Goes

The back yard is green. It’s hydrangea time. Yeah, they are leggy, pruning mistake. Lesson learned. Leslie asked me how my white roses are doing. In truth I neglected them to deal with my mother’s Alzheimer’s-provoked move. The poor guys responded by sinking into a despair of black spot, rust, and unnamable blight. But a couple of good sprayings with oil from Indian tree seeds and back they’ve come. A little bitten, a little cock-eyed, but still roses and on the whole white. You might also remember I had planted a butterfly garden. The plants are flourishing, the butterflies scarce to date but welcome. By the way, it’s not called milkWEED

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Everyone Thinks They Are The Good Guys, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:45am

It has come to my attention that everyone thinks they’re the good guys. I ran across this video, which is political, so let me sum it up more personally – all sides to any conflict believe they are in the right. This plays out for individuals too. When I was young, if I thought about people who did bad things, I suppose I assumed they thought of themselves as Wicked. They don’t. Over and over again I’ve seen, it, enough times now that I get what’s going on. People who do bad things are telling themselves an internal story that they are OK. That their actions are Correct, at least Justifiable.

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What A Very Tired Person Who Needs To Recuperate Wears For Three Days And Nights In Napa

Last week my husband and I went up to Napa for a few nights. We stayed, as we have before, at the Carneros Inn. I was so tired. What I haven’t yet explained is that eight days after my mother moved into her assisted living facility she fell and fractured her hip. Ever since, we’ve been living through hospital stays and transfers of health care power of attorney and new medications and new doctors and more new medications and the ongoing vicissitudes of dementia. My husband and I had thought that by last week Mom would be settling down and making friends. Not so. But, since our hotel reservations

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And One More Happy Thing: Cheekie Winner

Ann Beverly, the Julie Hewett Cheekie blush is yours! Send me an email at the skyepeale address, with your mailing address, and I’ll send it off. Congratulations, and I hope you like it as much as I do.

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Volunteering, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:26am

So here’s something happy. Back in 2015 I watched all of The Wire, and decided I needed to volunteer in a challenged school district. As my son told me later, such a white person thing to do. But, good acts may rescue poor intentions. In any case, early this year I finally organized the paperwork to work in one of our local grammar schools. It’s just down the street from me, but serves a nearby community made up primarily of Latin American immigrants. Spanish is the first language, English the second. The school underperforms the California metrics by a large margin, and California has poor public schools to

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Makeup For Running Out The Door Every Day, If You So Choose, Especially When You Are Over 50

Prepare for a strange but true linkage. The effects from stress of my mother’s move and care have surprised me. One of the most pronounced – my need to clean up. Not just my house but also emotional detritus. If that makes sense. Sorting through relationships that have foundered, speaking up in places where I’d been silent. And, like today, delivering on commitments that have trailed for years. A long time ago on this blog, a commenter who goes by HHH (I have met her in person, she is also a Princeton alumna) asked me to do a post on everyday makeup. In her place of work, she

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Can’t Even Come Up With A Title, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:44am

Just sitting here on the sofa, listening to the Pandora Worldbeat station. Vaguely-Argentine guitar played by a guy named Johannes Linstead. I thought he might be Swedish, given the name, but no. Canadian. I watch my hands, the veins that run between my knuckles are rising. Age. I’ll be 60 in September – I look forward to new adventures. Although California’s in a heat wave, our marine layer persists. The sky is overcast, as of 8:24am. The night was cool, you can feel it still. The garden wet from the sprinklers that ran last night at 5pm; it was too hot to cook. I ate paté on sourdough,

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Net-A-Porter, The Sale

Hi guys. As we’ve learned, now is possibly the best time of the year for a bargain. In that vein, Net-a-porter, the best high-end online retailer in the business, has a sale on. Up to 50% off. From maxidresses with sleeves, to chambray field jackets, to bathing suits, to block heeled sandals. Not to mention denim in all its guises I’m not buying anything, no budget right now. But, the browsing in and of itself entertains and even inspires me. I’m highly unlikely to wear this Current/Elliot coverall, for example, but it’s a teeny tiny breakfast adventure to imagine.   Links may generate commissions

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The Perfect Set Of Outdoor Furnishings – For This Part Of The World

I generally prefer my gardens unfurnished. No statues or windchimes, no mirror balls. That way I can pretend I live on a high lonely hill, looking out. This isn’t an actively narrated pretense, just the kind that mutters when denied. But summer beats fictions. Live outside we must, cook outside we will. You gotta sit down. Outdoor furnishings vary between geographies, I assume. In cold climates you either cover or store your stuff, in winter, right? In the South, do you use outdoor furnishing much, or just stay inside in the air conditioning? You can tell, I’m a big baby about heat and humidity. By the sea, you’re thinking

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The Greatest Privilege, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:23am

I keep a manual to-do list. Today I look forward to rewriting it. Maybe that’s just foolish morning optimism, as often on waking I feel joy for no clear reason. But maybe it’s just been a difficult few months. When I’m neither overwhelmed nor enraged some part of me likes managing hard projects. The greatest privilege, it seems to me, is having enough reserve capacity – either from genetics or experience or extended family and friends – to observe and infer. Even during very bad times. Ah, I am sure the greatest privilege is never to face impossible times. But I do feel lucky to be learning from

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USA Memorial Day Weekend Is Upon Us And Sales Are A-Sale-ing

Summer. This is my favorite time of year in Northern California – the upswing to solstice, the blue skies, the grasses beginning to burn. I’ve read that Memorial Day sales are in fact better than Black Thursday’s. Not sure why that is, time to shed inventory, or an observed tendency for consumers to buy for summer, but whatever, we can take advantage. So here are a few options. From up to 40% at designer goods at department stores like Nordstrom, [show_boutique_widget id=”398952″] and my pals, Neiman Marcus, [show_boutique_widget id=”398951″] or plus sizes at Saks (sorry these images are blurry, it’s a Saks quirk and I cannot seem to

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The Great Candle Burn-Off #3: Jo Malone Grapefruit vs. P.F. Candle Company Sweet Grapefruit

Time for the third in this epic series of Candle Burn-Offs (#1 and #2.) We’re getting closer to true competition, I feel, fewer random retail pickups, increased intention. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. That sounds arrogant. OK, anything worth doing is worth trying to do well. More subjunctive in feeling, and therefore High WASP-appropriate. Enter the amphitheatre, British candle queen Jo Malone! Cheers! Duck under the ropes, Los Angeles indie brand, P.F. Candle Co., to howls of approval. Let the burning begin. This time, tangy, tongue-tingling citrus. Jo Malone Grapefruit vs. P.F. Candle Co. Sweet Grapefruit. Provenance I bought the Jo Malone candle with a Neiman

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To Feel Relief Or Not, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:43am

Well. I hired someone to come every other week and clean my house. I managed two good walks. I cooked an actual dinner, twice. And so life flirts with normal. I am in no way ready to say we’re clear, my mom is not yet stabilized, too many factors in flux. I’ll take one moment. Which brings up a question –  how to approach life when you’ve just been through a series of emergencies? Better to focus on optimism? Enjoy the calm even if it may disappear like grass on fire? Or better to wake up in a state of high alert, imagining the worst cases and living

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Possibly The Coolest Sturdy Gal Sunglasses In The World?

Yes, I am standing in a field of dry grass, in front of a trailer park. Yes, that is my 59-year old stomach. Good detective skills, my friend. However, I’m wearing new Ray-Bans, so I look more cool than idiotic. I am perhaps exaggerating. Let’s back up. It is an almost universal tenet of personal style that accessories, or a concerted lack thereof, make the woman. The Grande Dame, even in casual mode, must sport her silk scarf, a luxurious bag, a strand of pearls. Reggie Darling knows her well. The Artsy Cousin may wear a scarf, but it will be woven, may carry a bag, but it

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We Are Not Flightless Birds On Stairways, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:36am

If you look back at this week you will see that my plan to keep blogging as though my mother weren’t moving into assisted living, her house did not need to be shown to property management companies, the furniture did not need to be reviewed for an estate sale, failed. You are not dummies. We won’t go into details. The stories don’t belong to me. However. I have learned that a series of pretty dang awful things can happen, that one should never say, “It’s going as well as can be expected” because then it won’t. And yet one foot can still be put in front of the

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Silk Flowers Turn Out To Be OK, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:26am

So, Mom. You all know it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, here in the USA. So, Mom. I am by no means the world’s best daughter. Never was. But this is my time to make sure the deal’s even. That Mom is repaid for all the work she did and all the worry she felt trying to do a Good Job. Repaid sounds venal. I don’t exactly mean repaid. The work of motherhood is most demanding in the days when our children are least capable of thanks. I remember my first thank you. I put my 3-month old daughter in her car seat, buckled her in, closed the door, and

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The Privilege Annual Report To The Board – Wrapping Up 2015

Over the years I’ve habitually reported on the workings of this blog to the “board.” That means you. Doing so feels right, it’s a way to retain transparency without cluttering my writings with this kind of statement; “If you click HERE I will earn $0.16, if you buy THIS I will earn $4.05.” Or, on the other hand, “THIS has no monetization, your click will generates no profit of any sort.” And, as always when one summarizes one’s efforts for a kind audience, the act of reviewing is useful to the worker herself. No further ado. The Statistics of “Privilege” The Blog 65,100 page views/month – holding steady

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Winner Of The Blue Nile Diamond Necklace Giveaway

Claire H! Congratulations! Your first Mother’s Day, congratulations on that too! Please send me an email at skyepeale (@) yahoo (dot) com with your mailing address, and I will put it in the post to you tout de suite. I loved the comments. You are all such stylish women, it’s a pleasure to envision your outfits. Meanwhile, I’m still thinking about these earrings. But how many pairs of danglers does one woman really need? Thank you so much for playing along, and for contributing your stories.   Links may generate commissions

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Everything I Now Believe About The Long-Term Project Of Cooking For Two People

You asked me to report back with findings about how to cook for two, in retirement. OK then! Cooking isn’t my usual writing realm, but I do love a high level analysis of a carefully observed process. To optimize anything, one must first understand both the desired outcomes and the constraints. Desired Outcomes, AKA What We Like In This House One of us prefers a main dish + sides model, the other would rather multiple smalls One enjoys meat fat, the other does not, both try to avoid it for the most part One of us wants to reduce meat consumption to save the planet One insists on

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Into The Sky, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:34am

I have a long day ahead. But, it promises the long California sky so out I go into the blue. I’ve added Katura Designs’ Mother’s Day discount to yesterday’s post – river pearls and rough diamonds, that much closer. Have a wonderful weekend. Sustain each other as best you can.  

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A Mother’s Day Memento (Don’t You Kind Of Want To Spell It “Momento?”) In The Making

On Mother’s Day, I’ve always given my mom either flowers or jewelry. That is, once I started giving her presents – we didn’t celebrate when I was young. She still loves flowers and jewelry. On the other hand, maybe a meal together would be better this year. Cupcakes. As I’ve said before, while I don’t feel that I need presents on the day, I do like the occasion, the recognition, the celebration. And my kids have heard me and are very good about cards and calls. If I did want an enduring present, it’d be jewelry. It so easily becomes a memento, something to sort through with grandchildren.

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I Just Want Your Extra Time, And, Saturday Morning at 7:34am

Prince, the American R&B artists famous for songs like “Purple Rain,” “1999,” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” died last Thursday. Cause yet unknown, suicide not suspected. Although I have always loved his music, I have no particular insight about his place in the pantheon. I saw him only once in concert and it was during a time when he was struggling terribly and, unusually, could barely perform. But I have a story. When I first got out of business school I worked for a Fortune 250 chemical company. I spent 11 months in headquarters analyzing who knows what, and then flew off to Silicon Valley to become a salesperson.

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An Enduring Love Affair With My Fuchsia, And Its Friend, A Small Haws Copper Watering Can

My fuchsia has grown and is blooming. It’s such a pleasure to watch the buds swell over days. Then one morning you wake up and they’ve opened, little triangular petals curving away from purple centers.   Right now the fuchsia is surrounded by primulas, violas and heuchera (burgundy leaves forever!). Also a ratty alyssum falling down the side of one pot. I’ll probably replant the supporting cast soon, I like an orange kalanchoe or two in the hot summer, against the fuchsia’s purple and, well, fuchsia. Fuchsias want humidity, and the San Francisco Bay Area is semi-arid. Recently I ordered a watering can. It was on my Christmas

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Super<3Mega<3Most<3Casual<3Ever

Last Tuesday, having returned from Santa Barbara the night before, and having spent the bulk of the day on administrative tasks for my mother, I went to Whole Foods. I thought to myself, as I checked the full-length mirror, “I’m probably going to run into someone I know.” Decided I didn’t mind. My hair was in a messy braid. “Ah,” I thought, “Do I brush my hair? Oh never mind. That’ll just give me pinhead.” And out I went, like this. ***** Sweatshirt: Mine is from Isabel Marant’s 2013 collection at H&M. It looks a lot like this but is all-cotton || Tee: Any long gray will do.

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I Seriously, Honestly, Wish I Didn’t But I Do, Hate Housework, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:26am

So guys, tell me, how does one come to enjoy housework? In all seriousness, I hate it. And I read, around the blogosphere, that others feel otherwise. Faux Fuchsia, Dani at the Mop Philosopher, Leslie at the Humble Bungalow, all enjoy what they term “domestics.” Not to mention another blog, Down to Earth, written by an Australian woman. It’s all about the joys of a home-centered life – sewing, baking, making your own cleaning products. She even wrote two books. Help me out. Must one be born with this predilection? Or does it result from secret tricks, an excellent system? When I worked, I was either gone from

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Searching For Sale Sneakers

I looked down at my shoes yesterday and thought, “Hmm, I’d like sneakers in different colors.” That’s what happens when you find a uniform. Jeans and sneakers, sneakers and jeans. But they have to be the RIGHT sneakers. Not too flashy, not too boring. Preferably on sale, for we retired Polished Tomboys. (By the way, not to take credit for my finds, the Shopstyle search engine is really good) A few notes from experience. New Balance run narrow, the wide of metatarsal won’t be well-fit. Nike’s heel cup gets annoying when it’s high. And Supergas are really comfortable when they have a memory foam insole. Spring on!  

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A Different Kind Of Adult Coloring, Without A Book

I just got back from a few days in Santa Barbara. The trips are very full and tiring, 5 hour drive down (I’m afraid of airplanes, small ones in particular), 2 days helping tend to someone in stage 5-6 Alzheimer’s, 5 hour drive back. So, a short post. On one of my previous trips, I brought Mom colored pencils. We sat out on her back patio, I drew a small part of her garden, roughly, and talked about it as I scribbled. Then I asked her to tell me what colors to use for the detail. She did. She darkened the palm fronds, colored the trunk of the

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Announcing Rare Fiber, A New Kind Of Consultancy Deeply Rooted In Design And Culture

The Internet is a wondrous thing. At some point it introduced me to Grace O’Sullivan, connector par excellence, charismatic as heck. At some point, Grace asked if I’d join her in a new consultancy, Rare Fiber. Yes. I would. Here’s what we’re doing, and when I say “we” I’m one of 19 contributors. From the website. We are passionate about advancing excellent people, organizations, and ideas. We believe in listening and pushing boundaries with style and design. We do this by weaving fresh, authentic perspectives through the fabric of our partners’ culture. We help forward-thinking organizations innovate through a collaborative, human-centered design process. From an email Grace sent me

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If You Plant It They Will Come, Or At Least You Hope They Will

I’ve planted a butterfly garden. At least I’ve planted my side yard with flowers, mostly natives, that butterflies are said to enjoy. This is what the space used to look like. Overgrown with thistles, here seen through a shrubby plum tree, a mock orange, and bamboo. Thistles, filling the space in sunlight. Thistles, finally cut down. Then I drew that little pencil sketch above. Plotting sage, milkweed, yarrow, mint, checking for height and color. Then, last November, we planted. Imagine you walked through that plum tunnel above, this is what you see now. Lining the fence, and accompanied by a horde of volunteer myosotis along the wall of

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How To Choose Earrings For Jeans’ Styles

High WASPs (n.b. California regional variant) dress for balance. We love the cautious subjunctive;  it’s all about the IF statements (and the semi-colon). IF you are wearing navy you want to complement it with something bright. IF your shoes sparkle something else must be matte. IF your pants are tight your top must be loose. And, the subject of today’s post, IF your jeans are one shape, your earrings must be another. Note: I choose earrings here because they are my primary accessory. One can apply the same principle to shoes, if you’re podiatrically exploratory, or scarves, if you don’t mind all the tying and flapping. As a

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That Which We Avoid We Cannot Resolve, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:30am

We spend a lot of time teaching our kids how to get along. How to share, use their words, take a break when things get hot. I’m wondering, now, looking back, whether we should also be teaching them to fight. Maybe fight is the wrong word. I mean work through conflict. Particularly the blood-boiling sort. I see now that one of my greatest failings is an inability to stand firm when very angry. It’s not that I back down, as do the timid. Blurters blurt angrily, they throw wine glasses and storm out of conference rooms. But I’m prone to navigate with reason, moving along at 10mph, 40mph,

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A Few Sale Items From J. Crew That Are Worth A Look

Sales are weird these days. Seems like something’s always on, somewhere. In the face of overwhelming choice, lean on experience. In other words, sale shop your tried and true brands. In my case, that’s J. Crew. They are currently offering an additional 25-30% off their Spring Sale section with code SHOPNOW. Shipping is free for any order over $150. I know their cashmere isn’t the sturdy Scottish sort, but for not too much more than $100, you can be the lucky wearer of an orange featherweight cardigan. Cheery for transitional weather, killer paired with navy blue. Comes in pink too. Purple and mint are discounted further. Or a

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More Options For The Midlife Midriff, Date Night California Style

Last weekend we took my father and stepmother out to dinner at a local restaurant. I couldn’t quite figure out what to wear because my blue shoes were in San Francisco. As will happen. Rummaging through my closet I found this pink linen tunic, from UNIQLO, and threw it on over a pair of 7 For All Mankind bootleg jeans and old pinkish-red suede Stuart Weitzman kitten heel pumps. A pair of gold, opal and diamond earrings from Hawaii, the Céline bag, straight hair and out I went. (Side note: I did not plan this as an outfit post, my husband obliged me with an iPhone snap on

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What The Heck Am I Even Watching On “TV?” Or, Saturday Morning at 10:37am

Broadcast Networks Big Bang Theory – Thursdays Blacklist – Hiatus You Me And The Apocalypse – Thursdays Mr. Robot – Hiatus Scandal – Thursday Modern Family – Wednesdays American Crime – Hiatus Better Call Saul – Mondays Blind Spot – Mondays Suits – Wednesdays The Good Wife – Sundays Fresh Off The Boat – Tuesdays War and Peace – PBS – Miniseries completed The Magicians – Monday (kind of love this one, I read the books) Cable Networks Girls – HBO – Sundays Games of Thrones – HBO – Sundays Silicon Valley – HBO – Sundays Homeland – Showtime – Hiatus Billions – Showtime -Sundays Outlander – Starz

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Small Interior Tweaks For Fun (Prettiness, Interest) Without A Lot Of Fuss

As I sort out larger furnishing choices, i.e. fabrics for my guest room and master bedroom, I’m amusing myself with small tweaks. Anyone remember these doves? They’re now living a well-lit life on our Pottery Barn Extra-Wide Valencia dresser. And yeah, it’s dusty. I’m way better at beauty than I am at daily cleaning. Those of you who will tell me cleaning is beauty, I hear you, I understand conceptually, and I cannot feel that way to save my life. The doves tolerate disorder. In any case, having read Emily Henderson’s book Styled, I now realize that I want just a little more framing, a little more intention,

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A Personal History Of Fashion In Zagreb: Guest Post From Dottoressa

A guest post by the commenter known as Dottoressa. She is a citizen of Zagreb, with a love of fashion, and this is her personal fashion history in context. In light of the bombings in Brussels, we discussed delaying this post, but in the spirit of carrying on, of being undaunted, decided to publish. She sends her thoughts and condolences to the citizens of that beautiful city. Thank you Lisa for your invitation to be a guest once again at Amid Privilege. This time it will be a journey through the history of fashion in Zagreb. Before WWI, Zagreb was part of the K and K Habsburg monarchy.

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Muscles And Poetry, Poetry And Muscles, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:42am

I had a great yoga class yesterday. Which is by no means a veiled attempt to get you to start yogatating. I have learned over the years that while everyone ought to do some kind of physical activity, exactly what kind is right for whom one cannot know unless one is that whom. I made the change to yoga and walking in place of a personal trainer, because I felt that the gym was done. More sessions would only grow more musculature and life is not all about muscles. I also hypothesized that weight-lifting was increasing my testosterone at a time when I really needed estrogen. That’s what

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Fashion Logos, The Good, The Bad, And The Downright Ugly

I apologize to any upon the toes of whom I am about to step. Were I still writing as a High WASP I’d assume tones of disapproving authority. But let’s talk like regular people. OK. I just hate Michael Kors’s logos. And yet I’ve come to appreciate the shenanigans of Louis Vuitton, and occasionally Chanel. Why? Because these are luxury goods? Is it all about the brand? Or is it something else? A little deconstruction. I think logos need a broad conceptual category to clear up why one might like some and hate others. How about “Brand Recognition Devices and Details?” So catchy. But in that framework we

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It’s Just Water, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:57am

We finally got a few days of old-school rain. Large drops, audible splashing. Made me think about water all over everywhere. I am not sure why suddenly a thing of nature, inextricable from our living, part of everything, separated itself and said “Think.” But there you have it. Think of puddles. Raindrops. Lakes. I have lived on a coast most of my life, I couldn’t imagine moving inland. Even when I can’t see the ocean, or the San Francisco Bay, I know they are there. I smell marine on the breeze, seagulls get lost and fly overhead. Or streams. Think of streams. When I was young, we lived

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The Calendar Of Greenery

My garden is, from a distance, mostly green. But at a certain time in the spring, in one spot, small bright flowers grow. Native geraniums up close, a fringe bush in the background. Forget-me-nots. This usually happens around Easter. Oxalis. This year it’s early. And this year, a lone calla lily is blooming. I have no memory of planting it; some seasons it flowers, others it does not.  This was our warmest February on record. The flowers are both beautiful and worrying, coming as they have before their time.

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Just In Case You Wanted To Try Long Gray Hair, A Personal History

This is the story of how one woman takes care of her long gray hair. But first, some personal history for anyone new to this blog. I’m 59. And a half, as of March 2016. For cultural context, i.e. to explain in part why I’ve been comfortable going gray, I’ve lived most of my life in Northern California. We love our counter-culture and Mr. Natural. Whether you want to go gray or not depends in part on how it looks on you, but mostly on how it feels where you live. I was born quite blonde, my hair darkened in my 20s. In my early 40s, when I

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Can You Feel Emojis In Your Brain Or Am I Nuts, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:54am

We’ve gone through all kinds of technical change in the past three decades (lots before that but first I wasn’t born and then wasn’t paying much attention). Think of the 80s. Anyone else remember accessing the company mainframe? How about their first desktop computer? And then the accelerating automation and reach of laptops, mobile phones, smart phones, and social media. Astounding. But if I back way up, I think only two phenomena have affected my brain itself. Googling, surely. Remember not knowing a fact? Remember searching in your own mind for answers? Now it’s as though I can feel the Google button in the upper right hand corner

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New Shoes For Summer From The Shopbop Sale

While the inimitable “Une Femme” and I have collaborated, intentionally, on a couple of posts, this morning’s alignment is serendipitous. She’s thinking mules, I’m thinking sandals. Shopbop’s having a sale, spend $250+ save 15%, spend $500+ save 20%, spend $1000+ save 25%, with code: BIGEVENT16. Good for most items on the site, Canada Goose, Hanky Panky and Kate Spade excluded. If my budget weren’t fully spoken for this month, I’d be replacing an old pair of Rieker sandals right about now. Why? Are they worn out? No. I bought them too big, they’ve always been too big, and I hate that lonely peninsula of shoe that sticks out

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Let Us Remember The Virtues Of Elegance

Have you all by chance seen Giorgio Armani’s collection from the most recent Fashion Week? Quite something. Look at these black velvet jackets. This first feels rather War and Peace-ish, to me. (Oh, and did you watch the BBC’s latest version? Great costuming.) I like a little over the shoulder insouciance. Might be just another black blazer, but not. And, how about Combat Jacket + As Ladylike As It Gets? Crop me, baby! Oh I am a lifelong fan of the velvet jacket. I coveted them here (net-a-porter has several new for this year.) I pointed out a lovely less-expensive version here (now on sale, reviewed as bad

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Tough Week, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:58am

Oof, guys, tough week! For me, at least. I hope yours was OK. My mother’s condition has progressed, we are talking and thinking about what to do. This requires reading and writing emails, making phone calls, driving places, occasionally swallowing hard as tears show up from nowhere. It’s a little bit like having half your self in another world. (I imagine but how would I know?) And then that other world starts lobbing sharp things through a dark but brilliant window. You just can’t know or predict. Some may have noticed I’m not very present in the blogosphere at the moment. I apologize. I am sure that being

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Pre-Shopping For The Piece I Might Need For The Summer Of 2016, Or, How About A Maxidress?

When I was working I experimented with clothes. I bought a skater dress, reviewed different brands of cashmere and button-front shirts, wore corduroys. Come the new season, I hankered after that which was put before me — I followed fashion. I still follow fashion, but with more discretion. Hanker less, consider more. Less money, more time to think, it works. So as the weather warms up, instead of paging through Vogue only to become incurably obsessed with a Prada dress, I think back to last summer. Last summer was hot. Last summer I aged out of my shorts. A personal thing, not a pronouncement for the world, by

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The Lesser-Known Pleasant Feelings, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:12am

So I’m in yoga class the other day, we’re just getting started. Everyone’s seated on their mats, eyes closed, backs straight enough. “Now,” says the instructor, “Now imagine something that brings you joy. We are going to spend 3 minutes in that space, so that you can carry it through your practice.” Um, or, “Hells bells!” as my father said back in the day. Because for the life of me I could not find any memory of joy that I could replicate. Being with my children? They’re elsewhere at the moment. The day I got married? Never to be repeated. Even the surprising moments of bliss in the

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Art From Friends And Family, Brigitte Carnochan In Many Guises

I forgot something important in my long post about house plans. The photography of Brigitte Carnochan, my stepmother. On the one hand, her gallery work. I want one of the platinum/palladium triptychs in the Valley Grasses series, maybe two over time, for our master bedroom. In real life, the platinum printing lends these pieces an other-worldly quality, as though the paper itself is singing songs from outer space. Why that imagery comes to mind I absolutely cannot say. But, since she’s also my stepmother, and family, here’s something else she made on request for my husband’s Christmas present this year. Two dog montages to hang in his office.

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Where To Go For A Good (Very Good, Stand-Out, Spectacular) Handbag?

This post is sponsored by Neiman Marcus Certain stores do certain goods best, don’t you find? For example, I like UNIQLO for most of my daily basics, and J. Crew for my mid-range lotta-color stuff. But for bags, the no-holding-back, oh-I-shouldn’t-but-think-of-the-low-cost-per-wear, handbags, there’s nowhere like Neiman Marcus. It dawned on me the other day that every single bag I’ve owned since the 1990s has come from Neiman’s. Consider the saga. The Bags Of Yesteryear In the early 1990s, exact date forgotten, I bought this Ferragamo at Neiman’s in the Stanford Shopping Center. For work, ostensibly, but probably to help launch me back into the world lacking my two

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Unhurried, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:18am

This year I made no resolutions. Oh, I quit my personal trainer in favor of yoga and walking, but that wasn’t a resolution. Just an action. Instead I chose a word for the year. Immediately I’m a little embarrassed, I mean, that is not a High WASP behavior. Where’s the delayed gratification in a word, where’s the achievement? But it’s absolutely Californian and besides it’s working. Funny story. I stumbled, somewhere, on a suggestion to do a five-day choose-a-word-for-the-new-year-exercise with Susannah Conway. “Why not?” I thought. I finished the first day, and maybe the second, but then I got totally impatient and picked my word without finishing the

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Do You Guys Have Any Secret Conveniences To Share?

The young year is good not only for taking the pulse of stalled projects, but also for filing off the edges of inconveniences. Optimizing, in other words, something process people are good at but project people have to treat like, um, a project. Over time, I had created an Amazon list I called “Conveniences.” This weekend I went ahead and one-clicked. On what and why? Well, these I have come to rely on for looking generally presentable, when that’s a goal. Beauty Blender Sponge   I am re-upping on both. I use the pink boingy sponges to apply Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer. Evens out skin color for a

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Do You Ever Need To Regroup In The Middle Of A Project?

Well all right then. After a few misfires around here, 2016 is on. Thank heavens for the Lunar New Year, which gives us time to catch up. As you know, this blog covers personal style, gardening, house decor and the meaning of life. The house discussion, however, has lagged. Whenever I notice laggards I like to sweep back through my notes with a grand Just Where Are We Exactly? I would like to beg your indulgence and post a status on my house’s putative refurbishing. Let’s go room by room. You are doing me a great service by listening. When last we talked, here’s what was. The Front

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Putting On Five Pounds In Midlife On Purpose, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:49am

So I’ve just put on five pounds. On purpose. To be fair, this takes me from a BMI of 20 to one of 21, so I am not making a revolutionary statement. But it seemed my thought process, given our cultural focus on women’s weight, might of be of interest anyway. As background, I have always been thinnish. When we were kids, at one point, our doctor told my mom she needed to fatten us up. Oh the 1960s. And so it went until a college summer internship in France left me 15 pounds heavier. Thrown into a state of distress and horror, I lost the weight but

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The Garden After A California Rain Or Two

When last we left California, a long drought prevailed. (I wrote “reign” at first, but we will eschew the puns today.) Happily, in December, and January, the rains came. We’re in recovery. Long-term drought still running, 40% of the state still deep in, but the short-term is OK, and snowpack above average. We’re all cautiously optimistic, when we’re not standing in the rain letting water run over our eyelids. Then, late in January, the sun shone. Blue sky, patio puddles, leaf.   A roly poly came out to play. As did a few flowers. The hellebore. The oxalis, which I’m supposed to hate because they are invasive, but

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Winner Of The Valentine’s Day Garnet Heart

Thank you all so much for your stories. From loving fathers, to geeky couples, to longed-for babies, to mothers who remembered, they warmed my (appropriately) heart. Susan D., in Dallas, you’ve won this giveaway. Congratulations! Please email me your mailing address and the rose gold and garnets are yours. And I promise we’ll have more giveaways. It’s the least I can do. For now, here’s the link to Blue Nile’s current 15% off sale. Some nice earrings, if you’re on the market.   Links generate commissions  

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What Should You Wear To Speak On A Panel About Two Of Your Great Life Interests?

As you may remember, back before Christmas, I was asked to participate in a panel about the Apple Watch. Wristly, the sponsoring firm, had found me via my review, here. As you can imagine, deciding what to wear that day required serious deconstruction. I considered my options across several axes, as one does. Modern vs. classic, fashion vs. business, and those beloved High WASP superordinates, effort vs. nonchalance. I considered the outskirts of my axes. Not actual skirts, mind you. First up, I Really Don’t Give A Damn And Am In  Fact A Street Artist. Imagine this, but with a long-sleeved UNIQLO Moomin-print tee and my Vince sneakers from this

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Happy Birthday Cara, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:48am

Storm clouds threatening while sun burns through the gaps so strongly it makes you squint. My favourite weather. #northuist #westernisles #uist #northuist A photo posted by caratakesphotos (@caratakesphotos) on Jan 8, 2016 at 7:07am PST Today is Cara’s birthday. Who is that, you might ask? They drive me bloody mental but I do love these three eejits. A photo posted by caratakesphotos (@caratakesphotos) on Jan 9, 2016 at 7:48am PST One of my young Internet friends. The online world allows us, spectacularly, to find friends in our age cohort. Witness the many midlife bloggers and the community that has developed around our shared questions about retirement, health, and

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A Valentine’s Day Present For You From Blue Nile

This post is presented in collaboration with Blue Nile Although my culture of origin tends towards the bland, or occasionally astringent, we do carry a sweet spot well hidden in our hearts. Witness, for example, our love for dogs. Or, in my case, a distinct fondness for heart-shaped jewelry. Not as heart-warming, but there you have it. I try to make up for my materialism in other ways. When I was young I lost at least three heirloom hearts, two stickpins and a gold and yellow guilloché enamel locket. By the way, if any of you have both family jewelry and teenaged daughters, don’t believe your girls when

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The First Great Candle Burn-Off Of 2016 — Black Orchid from Aquiesse vs. Black Hibiscus from India Hicks

Although the days are getting longer, and I can feel summer on the other side of the fence, every day around 4:30pm I remember we’ve still got a lot of night to trudge through. To say nothing of the cold, even in California. Time for another Great Candle Burn-Off! Let’s compare Black Orchid from Aquiesse , and Black Hibiscus, from India Hicks. I know! A theme! Floral Noir! Wholly accidental, as you’ll soon see. Provenance I picked up the Aquiesse candle at the boutique where Tish Jett spoke last December, in an attempt to be a good citizen and chip in for my invitation. The store was not

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So Next Year I’m Getting A Flu Shot, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:38am

Hi guys. Sorry about disappearing. Here’s what happened. After visiting my mom I drove down to LA, where I met with blogging friends, (BTW, do you follow @mrs_badinage on Instagram? You must.) attended my extraordinary youngest sister’s 50th birthday party, and came down with the flu. Not knowing I was that sick, we drove back north on Monday. The flu did not take kindly to my disregard for its powers and promptly laid me flat on my back, groaning. Fever and everything. Such discomfort. Today is the first day I’m free of the aches and pains. Weak as a baby, but I’m not complaining. I have every hope

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Interior Surfaces At Mom’s House ( At No O’Clock)

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights at my mother’s house. Thank you all for your response to last Saturday’s post. I’m working my way through the replies, it does take longer than usual. I thought I might show you a few more photos from Mom’s house. These are interior surfaces. Upholstery in a guest room. Duvet covers in the same room. Tile in a guest bathroom. 20th century Swedish upholstery on a sofa bed in a guest room. A living room rug. A tansu cupboard in the living room. The living room tile. Installed when my mother and stepfather moved in, it single-handedly transformed the house. The Southern

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Blue Nile’s Annual Diamond Ring Event — 15% Off — For Weddings Or Just Your Regular Fingers

This post presented in collaboration with Blue Nile Quick note. Blue Nile is holding their annual diamond ring sale, 15% off quite a few. Use code RING2016 at the checkout. You can think of these as wedding rings, of course, but they also work for regular fingers. I noted this, pretty in white gold milgrain and diamonds, back in a previous post for the Nile (I made that term up. I’m sure they don’t call themselves that, I imagine no one does.) Or you might prefer to stack ’em high. Really high. So high. I can understand. I remember when someone I knew married the grandson of a

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Did You Have A Bowie Moment?

When I heard David Bowie had died, I remembered my Bowie moment. Picture a young Californian girl dancing to “Rebel, Rebel” in a Princeton eating club. Those clubs were far more likely to play Southern rock and Motown like “Hey-ey Baby, Will You Be My Girl?” than glam anything-at-all. Someone had switched it up that night; we were maybe in togas? “Rebel, Rebel” played above us, perfect and dissonant. I know many of those who have been moved by Mr. Bowie were real rebels, the overtly odd ones, and he made them feel it was OK to be weird. Not I. That night I had a lot of

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Snowflake Lights In The Pyracantha, Clementines In The Bowl, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:26am

I’m not sure which is more important about the past few weeks, that I understood something about Christmas or that it’s been raining. Oh, of course I know the rain is more important. Our drought has affected so many. However, that story can be found everywhere, my immediate thoughts only here. We will work with what we have. I found Christmas stressful this year, which was weird. I had more than enough time to plan, I thought I had done so, and yet at the end I ran around. It seemed a lot of things became necessities, despite my intention to go easy. Why? I had to have

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A Review Of The (Quite Ladylike) Compact Lightweight Down Jacket from UNIQLO

One morning in January you wake up and quilted diamonds of down blanket the land. You in cold climates have the puffers, high-end to low, fanciful to utilitarian. While we here in the temperate zone, well, we wear what you might call fluffers. A thin layer of down is enough. To that end, here’s my new purchase, the UNIQLO Compact Down Jacket. First up, a reasonably neat (and highly Sturdy) Extreme Casual—San Francisco look. Barely stylish, but saved from Slobovia by the ladylike shape of the jacket and a trustworthy Schiaparelli pink cashmere muffler. Assisted, maybe, (giving myself the benefit of the doubt,) by the pattern play between

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What Do You Wear To A Family Christmas?

Iona asked, in these comments, what do people wear for family Christmas? I believe in to each their own at home. All about the ugly sweaters? Have at it. Fair isles and kilts? Good look, of type. But that’s not what you’d see at Carnochan Christmas. We’re neither casual casual in jeans, nor fancy fancy in heels and jackets. It’s pretty much nice pants or comfortable long dress. Plus flat shoes, of course. We also tend toward the usual neutrals and muted colors. The house is full of red, green, sparkles. We do not need to serve as extra Christmas trees. One year I did get myself up

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The Christmas Tightrope Of Obligation And Desire, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:04am

I was thinking about Christmas, which, for those of us who celebrate, is imminent. (Not immanent. By correctness shall ye know I’m in High WASP mode albeit recovering.) There’s this photograph, perhaps the only one we have of my family-of-origin Christmases, but certainly the only one that’s been framed and kept. My littlest sister, all WASP toddler barely-haired, footie pajama-ed, reaches for an ornament. I remember that Christmas, coincidentally, because with the fourth sibling our heap of presents grew right out from under the tree. And yet the photo feels more sad to me than abundant. I was trying to figure out why, and I thought, maybe because

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12 Thumbnail Reviews Of 9 Books I Really Loved And 3 That Everyone Else Loved And I Didn’t

I’m always looking for good books and for some reason it’s harder to find them in this time of All The Information than it was in the days of What Is That Interesting Cover On The Bookshop Table? So here’s the table in the front of my pretend book store. Complete with quirky signage and thumbnail reviews scribbled on little index cards. Organized into sections that have you wandering around the store thinking, “Why are biographies near fantasy?” and then getting lost in a semiotic haze from which you may never emerge. Loved Them 2 Young To Young-ish Adult Fantasy Series The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater A

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Colored Jewels — Layered In Meaning And Occasionally Sale-Priced

This post is presented in collaboration with Blue Nile. What is it about colored stones? They hint at meaning behind surfaces. I confess to very strong feelings about their settings and design. My first engagement ring was a round blue sapphire set with a pear-shaped diamond on either side. A decade and half later I bought myself a pair of oval ruby earrings, surrounded by diamonds. Like these — imagine red stones in yellow gold. These, BTW, are 15% off with code BLUE15, i.e. reduced from $2650 to $2250.50. In fact everything at Blue Nile is now on sale for 15% off, except previous sale items and engagement

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Garb For An Almost Doctor, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:59am

And today I am in Southern California, visiting my daughter, my husband holding down the fort back home. This morning we went through her closet, discarding and giving away the worn out or unused. Then we analyzed wardrobe gaps. Turns out some doctors-in-training prefer flat shoes just like their mothers do. This afternoon we shop for her Christmas presents. At one point in the process, as we sorted out the gaps, we identified a need for one more sweater. “I’m thinking…” I said. “It should be…” she said. “Purple,” we said together. Off on a lavender cardigan and flat shoe expedition. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. I’ll be

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8 + 8 Presents For My Children, Past And, Well, Present

I have been extravagant with my children over the years. Not when they were little — few electronics, no cashmere hoodies. I did once try to dress my daughter in a beautiful silk shortall from Dad’s family, but that lasted all of 7 minutes. And there was no point giving either kid big expensive toys. Why? My daughter could use anything as a prop for imaginary games. Then she’d ask for a friend to come over, or even better two, or twelve, and could we take the friends out for lunch and how about ice cream too? And could they spend the night? My son was more inclined

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Advent in Zagreb, A Guest Post By Our Friend, Dottoressa

Today we have Dottoressa, eloquent commenter around the blogosphere, writing from her hometown of Zagreb, Croatia to share her Advent traditions. Welcome D! Feel free to ask questions, everyone! I was truly honoured when Lisa invited me to be a guest at her blog.  I was happy to  accept, so join me this time on a journey to my hometown of Zagreb. Advent in Zagreb is one of many Croatian hidden treasures. The European Best Destination organization nominated Zagreb as one of the best Christmas destinations in 2015. Let’s see why! Advent Fairs, Then And Now The history of advent fairs began in Germany and Austria, with markets

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The Friendsmas Market Bazaar

Over the years online, I’ve come to know some very talented people. This pleases me. I love recognizing talent, the moment of, “Hey, that one’s got something,” and watching success ensue. So today we have Friendsmas, i.e. a list of my friends who make and sell stuff you might like to put on your Christmas lists. I’ve mentioned them all before, but there’s no time like the present. Present. Get it? Guess the holiday preparations are making me goofy as well as grateful. Cara of Peonies and Polaroids has holiday cards on sale at Etsy. I own a set of her tiny prints, they hang from my desk

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I’ll Be At Glance, The First Conference Dedicated To The Business Of The Apple Watch

After I wrote the review of my Apple Watch, I poked around on Medium reading a few articles. I came upon Bernard Desarnauts, founder of a research firm called Wristly. I commented. And so it happens that on Thursday, December 10th, 8am-6pm, I will be participating in panels at the upcoming conference, Glance. I look forward to thinking and talking about the nexus of product management and user experience (i.e. my career) and Style, i.e. what amuses and interests us here on Privilege. Glance is the first conference dedicated to the business of the Apple Watch. It’s an intimate conference targeting 100 attendees, and some tickets remain for

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The Light Of A Thousand Lacunae, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:11am

I love those moments when time seems to clear a space. The sound of my furnace brings it on. The sky is still overcast in the morning, everything else is quiet. Doesn’t seem that I need to prepare, or clear away anything myself. A basket of laundry sits on the floor to my right, a bunch of clothes is still in the dryer from last night. The large cast iron skillet needs washing, as does my stovetop, dreadfully. I have by no means finished Christmas shopping. Comfort matters. The cushion behind my back is well-positioned, I’ve rested my feet on a Moroccan pouf at a nice angle, my

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The Complex Peace Of (Northern California) Winter Gardens

I guess a lot of places have one season shorter than the rest. When I lived in New Jersey, spring passed in a bright flash. One minute we were cold, then, “Wait, wait, I can show my legs, where’s my skirt no where’s my cardigan, oh drat! Hello summer. Everybody sweat now.” Autumn is Northern California’s short season. Summer, of course, is long, and beautiful.  Fall shows up in late October, maybe. Even in mid-November we’re outside in just sweatshirts,not even a windbreaker. But come one December morning, frost covers the neighbor’s roof. Bing bang boom it’s wintertime. The garden gets very quiet. The light thins. A few

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A Review Of Two Useful Style Books, One For Interiors, The Other For Your Grown Up Clothes

I like two different kinds of style books. The first gives you photos or images so glorious you don’t care what the author says. We’ll call those Inspirational Style Dreams. The second kind we’ll call, hmm, Useful Style Friends. Here we want to learn something we didn’t know. We want to hear a voice we recognize, to feel that we could be friends. with the writer. And we’d like the book to be accessible, so we can read, put down, pick up, review, browse, return. Meet Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous by Alyson Walsh, and Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, by

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Channeling The Grande Dame For A Semi-Fancy Late Holiday Lunch

Last week my husband and I had our Thanksgiving at the Taj Campton Place Hotel restaurant. It’s small, elegant as San Francisco goes, and recently received a second Michelin star. We reserved for late lunch/early dinner at 3pm, in San Francisco, The City Of Jeans. What to wear? Not a dress. Mine are all evening, or summer sorts. My pencil skirts feel like work. Not jeans. Although the restaurant wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at denim, I’d have regretted the celebratory feeling of some good fancy pants. And I noticed, as I pulled clothes out of my closet, a distinct desire to channel my vestigial Grande Dame. Tradition

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Achoo, Honk, Hack, Nnnnng, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:22am

Yesterday I was pretty sure I had the flu. Today I’m willing to concede it might be just some other mean virus bringing a cough, sneezes, aches, pains, the need to sleep, headaches and a dodgy gut. I’m in a pretty good mood nevertheless. Husband is home; I’m wearing a hoodie OVER a cashmere sweater and drinking tea from a 20 oz mug; I feel so much better today than yesterday that natural cheerfulness takes over and says, “Look! You’re getting better! Good thing you didn’t spend Thanksgiving with family and infect everyone!” Pollyannas Unite. One last question before I return to the prone position. When you’re sick

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Should You Happen To Be Organized Enough To Take Advantage Of Online Sales On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving, and if not, a survivable one. I advocate going nowhere at all today, unless it’s a family tradition, but if you’re really organized you might be online shopping. Here are the sales at sites/merchants I have been known to frequent. Also, a few things that I’d be happy to give to friends and family. UNIQLO: Free shipping for orders under $50,  $15 off for orders over $100, and Daily Deals that change every day. Get someone a Basquiat tee for $15 and we can start a club. Anthropologie: Where the girl child in medical school likes to shop. They are offering

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A 59-Year Old Woman Reviews The Apple Watch In Real Life

Have any of you thought about buying an Apple Watch? Does anybody actually own one? Oh, yeah, me. Huh? To be clear, I am not one for gadgets, I have no particular interest in tech for tech’s sake. But I am fascinated by human behavior, and wanted to get an early look at the world of the enabled wrist. And, although I don’t mean to chide anyone, I do think it’s important that we women and we midlifers engage in the tech cycle, if only to ensure that the Brave New World isn’t designed just for 28-year old men. I first realized I liked the watch as I

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Absence Makes The Heart Grow Thankful (For Not Cooking Among Other Things), Or, Saturday Morning at 7:57am

Fellow Americans, are you cooking Thanksgiving this year? Got it all figured out? Still in denial? That works too. I’m off the hook. And am as pleased not to be cooking as I am about doing it other years. The mental space ordinarily occupied by organic turkey pre-order schedules is open. In a meadow waiting for the picnickers to arrive, I spread imaginary red-checked tablecloths on the grass, and wait. Which is a fanciful way of saying I remember other Thanksgivings. My first memory, I think, is of a dinner at a dining table newly arrived to our house from my father’s mother’s estate. Or, precisely, I remember

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To My 2nd Sister, Plannerina In Full Force Around Here

In my family of origin, we’re 3 sisters and a brother. All have kids. Got hectic and costly come Christmastime. At a certain point, we decided that we’d give presents to all the nieces and nephews, but draw among siblings and spouses. For example, I might give a present to 2nd Sister’s Husband, but receive mine from Brother. It’s worked well. In fact, we’ve created a new tradition of sorts. There’s the “Who is organizing the draw this year?” conversation and the “OK tell me what you want,” emails. This year, since 1st Sister and Brother will be together at Christmas, while 2nd Sister and her family will

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Evergreening Your Garden, With Not A Pine Needle In Sight

What if a genius landed in your garden, but, only stayed a couple of days? Last week, Jeff S., he who designed my yard 15 years ago, came to visit. He lives in Seattle now, working by word of mouth for clients who share his aesthetic and philosophy. He comes to visit us Californians every once in a while. I thought I knew what I wanted. The drought, and the years of neglect, replanting, transplanting had worn away at my garden’s structure. Much as I love to work on a small scale, I felt uncertain about landscape design, and I hoped Jeff might add some Big Plants For

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Heartbroken For All The Children, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:51am

There is nothing to talk about except what happened in Paris yesterday. I am an atheist, and thus won’t #prayforparis. However, even if I were a believer, I wouldn’t be praying, for Paris. I would be so downhearted, so worried, so sorry, as I am now. I imagine we all are, faith or no. But Paris has already happened. One can only hope for healing, and thank the city and its people for many centuries of grace. I would pray instead for the children who grow up to be the men and women who kill. Logic follows, because I can’t make my way through these things without it.

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Object of Desire: Wolford Tights

Illustration by Marilyn Pollack Naron I have two pair of Wolford tights in my top right-hand dresser drawer. This is not enough. Having retired after a late-career earnings spurt, I find my closet to be quite full enough of high-end goods. My budget does not allow me to own new Dries van Noten every year, nor do I want to. This Christmas, for example, I’ll be wearing my roof replacement, and looking quite fetching. But, and it’s an important but, when one moves to a Wear What One Has Mode, one has to make sure one has all the required accessories. Good dresses need good tights. And High

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What Are Your History And Feelings About Color In The House?

You may have known from birth how you feel about color. You always chose ochre, or marine green as your favorites, never blue. Your enthusiasm informed your wardrobe, and eventually, your house. Rarely so for the Sturdies. Color, other than The Old Red, White and Blue, often scares us. Lucky break, denim’s blueness and all. Just once I bought a hot pink linen blazer. So when it came to furnishings, I got help. Mom furnished my first apartment, a Central Park West studio, at Macy’s Manhattan. There was room for one brown couch, a peach/celadon/ sand Chinese rug, a brass bed, and an English mahogany chest of drawers

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Blue Nile Adds Diamond Studs In Several Sizes To Their Secret Sale

Hey guys, Blue Nile has added some diamond studs to their secret sale. I like mine either small, like this 1/4 carat total weight pair, or not small, like these. 1 carat total weight. Platinum Again the sale’s 40% off with code SECRETSALE. That’s not nothing. It means the 1/4 carat pair are yours, or your daughter’s, for $417 vs. $695. And so on. You just might be in the market – diamond studs are exceptionally useful pieces of jewelry.   Links may generation commissions

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Despite A Few Annoying Characteristics People Are Pretty Wonderful, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:18am

It’s been a week full of friends. The blogosphere veritably blossomed, in-world. I met Chronica Domus, Tish Jett, and Kim of Northern California Style for the first time. I spent a day with Susan from Une Femme. And then I made a December date to meet Adrienne of The Rich Life on a Budget. Here on the blog, Chronica brought a crew of new commenters, who know so much about antiques I’m clapping my hands in excitement. Never mind me. The women who came to Tish’s book signing, for the most part, came with friends. Women who parented together, women who worked together. Powerful. Creative. Warm. They touched

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A Well-Hosted Visit To The Monthly Alameda Antiques Fair

A while back, the blogger from Chronica Domus (she prefers to remain anonymous) invited me to join her at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. This past Sunday, I did just that. The event is held every month in a very large open space on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay. Chronica always attends the fair with her best friend. They welcomed their new companion with grace, including me as though we’d known each other for years. Having a best friend of my own, being so familiar with the bond, it was a pleasure to coast in the wake of their shared traditions and language. Ostensibly, I

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How Long Does It Take To Choose A Front Door Color? For Some Of Us, A Very Long Time Indeed

You may remember that ~11 months ago I wanted to repaint my front door. You may also remember that I thought I wanted a red. I didn’t. Why not? I tried. I really tried. But the green-gray of my house didn’t like blue-reds and I don’t like orange-reds and there you have it. The experience convinced me I needed a whole new door. Mid-century modern like my house. Light wood, small windows. The price of said door convinced me otherwise. And then, in a flash of inspiration, quite different from the logical processes I usually follow, I knew. Janet lit the fires. Then Amy Beth Cup Dragoo did

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Blue Nile Is Having A Secret Sale

This post is presented in collaboration with Blue Nile Blue Nile is having a “secret sale” on a few select pieces. Secret, as in it’s not navigable via their site, you have to use this link, here, and use the code SECRETSALE. The sale is significant because it’s 40% off. Which means you could get this pretty silver, amethyst, and white topaz necklace for your daughter for ~$90, instead of $145. There’s something about that square with the drop shape. The sale also includes a few nice pairs of earrings, particularly these in silver, and these, in gold.   Links may generate commissions

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What Scares The High WASP Most, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:18am

What scares a High WASP most? The desire to make Art. Perhaps because it in turn makes clear you are trying and you care. Happy Hallowe’en! Let’s keep the apostrophe but give away all our candy! Oh, and if you’re in the mood for absurd crafts, a recent jack o’lantern hack. For stories, remembering my kids’ costumes past. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  

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Upcoming Events With My Friends The Brilliant Style Bloggers

I need to alert you all to a couple of events upcoming in the next few weeks. Two of my favorite over-40 style bloggers, and long-distance friends for that matter, will be hosting events for their books. And, both here in the USA, even though both live in Europe. On November 4th, Tish Jett, author of Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance, will be right here in Northern California, for a book signing. I’ll be there too. Sue, from Une Femme d’un Certain Age, and Jennifer, of A Well-Styled Life, are also planning on attending. Please do come along. INVITE DETAILS: Tish Jett Book

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Objects Of Desire: That 70s Clothing

While fashion lacks a gale force trend right now, I think we might reasonably point out a few “breezes” — influences, if you will. The Seventies are in the air. And that’s it for wind metaphors. Anyone else here a teenager in the 70s? I thought so. Remember our bell-bottoms, skinny-rib tees, and hand-tooled leather handbags? The romanticism that flowered as the 60s faded, before disco took over? Puffy sleeves without irony? You might be tempted to acquire a piece, maybe two, of type. Something that doesn’t require disrupting your wardrobe, but amuses and serves good purpose. BTW, if you’d like a sound track, here’s what I played

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Something Original And Beautiful For Winter Hospitality

I love a last minute holiday rush. Malls, Amazon deliveries, and late night wrapping. No early Christmas shopping for me. But I like to ready my hospitality in advance. Something about preparing for guests soothes the soul in a way that buying presents does not. You? Last year, in preparation for and celebration of the winter holidays, I acquired a new loveseat, table, and ottoman. Needed room for everyone to sit down. This year, I’m thinking maybe lampshades for the guest room. What, you don’t like glaring naked lightbulbs either? Fine then. As for the table, around which we might gather? Mine is, for the most part, “set.”

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The Second Stage Of Drinking Less Alcohol, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:15am

Two and a half years ago I wrote a post about cutting back on alcohol. Last week I got an email from a reader, about her own struggles and progress in the same endeavor. She included a link to this excellent article in Real Simple. Seems like I am not alone. Thanks, Olivia Pope. Two-thirds of American women consume alcohol regularly (having at least one drink within the past week), with most citing wine as their beverage of choice, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. That number has stayed fairly constant over the past two decades, but something more significant has changed: An increasing number of us are

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How To Grow Your First Rose Garden, 13 Simple And Somewhat Philosophical Steps

The other day I Googled “grow your first rose garden.” The results made me want to quit, right now, despite my bed of 8 happy white rose bushes. “Roses are very hard!” shouts the Internet. But this is rarely true. Most of you will be fine. Wait, do you want a rose garden? I think you might, even if it’s just one beautiful rose in one beautiful container. Roses give back, both thorns and fragrance. Roses bud in perfection and die in romance. They talk to you. Well, that’s stretching it but at the very least you will want to talk to yours, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll

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A Singular Piece

This post sponsored by Halsbrook Fashion has moved to a “post-trend” universe. So says Cathryn Horyn at the New York Times, and I agree. In these days of multiplicity, high style requires evidence of the wearer’s imagination,  AKA, “Yes I Dressed Myself.” Recently, in New York, I was amazed at how different everyone looked. On the Upper East Side, from the older woman on Madison Avenue in classic trousers, white shirt, and immovable hair, to the German woman in full Barbour and boots crossing Park with her daughter. In Brooklyn, my son’s friends in Crown Heights wore skater skirts, tights, and huge sweaters; a waitress in a Thai

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Mamavalveeta Wins The Silver Cavatappi

That headline sounds like a horse race, doesn’t it? One run in Milano, perhaps, or Miami. In any case, Mamaval, the bracelet is yours. Please email me at the skyepeale address, and let me know where to send it. I really can’t thank the entrants enough. Those bracelet stories are so vivid and compelling. I hope those of you in difficulty find an easy way, I wish those of you reaching milestones all the best. And thanks to Blue Nile too, for helping Privilege be a generous place.

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Cake On Faces, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:50am

I’m off to a birthday party for two-year old twins. I hope there will be balloons, and cake on faces, and lots of little people bumping around at knee-level. I hope parents sit on blankets on the lawn, chatting in relief and pride. I hope nobody cries too long or too hard. Although if a parent gets teary I’ll lend my shoulder happily. All the birthday parties, guys, all the birthday parties. My mother and I are very different people who lived in different times and made different choices. But, when it came to birthdays, I took a page from Mom’s book. A theme, or a plan, at

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Packing for 5 Days In Brooklyn, Manhattan, and New Jersey

During my recent break I took a little trip. First, a plane to JFK for three days in New York visiting my son and some newish friends. Then, a train to New Jersey for two days with my best friend of several decades. I had vowed to put aside the camera, and my internal blog topic collector, and so I did. The trip remains largely undocumented. However, who can go to New York and return without thinking about What to Wear? Not I, she said, not I. And who can navigate New York without, in the end, identifying as uptown or downtown, East Side or West Side? Again

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Making Designers’ Silver Bracelets Your Own

This post and giveaway are presented in collaboration with Blue Nile. Extreme Casual Style benefits from good jewelry. One might even argue that good jewelry allows Extreme Casual to speak Style at all. My particular approach involves earrings, and due to a metal sensitivity, gold ones in particular. But you have all sorts of options. If you can wear silver, you have access to the iconic silver designers, David Yurman and John Hardy. Commenters here have referred to their collections of said pieces, in particular the bracelets. It has occurred to me that as we age, we want to evolve our old favorites and layer our own aesthetic

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Quarterly Break And Turning 59

Hi guys. It’s my birthday today. Although 59 may be the new 49 — in terms of spring in steps — and we hope 39 is the new 59 — in terms of life wisdom — the click of one’s own calendar still registers precisely. So I celebrate. It’s also the end of the Q3 2015, and Privilege will take the usual break. I brought the idea of quarters over from my years in the corporate sector, it seems to help me stay highly motivated to write. I take off long enough to let the word neurons regenerate, or whatever they do, but not so long that I

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“My Stylish French Girlfriends,” A Post-Freudian Review

A while back, Tish Jett asked if I’d review a book she loved, My Stylish French Girlfriends, written by her friend Sharon Santoni. Sharon was kind enough to have a review copy sent to me. It’s also been reviewed around the blogosphere by Daily Plate of Crazy, Une Femme d’un Certain Age, and the Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, if you’d like additional perspectives. I am suspicious of Francophilia. There, I’ve said it. I loved France in the summer of 1975, when I worked at a summer camp in the Dordogne. I loved it in 1978 when I took the train from London to Paris to celebrate New

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When We Stop Hurrying, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:23am

It’s been a good week. Nothing spectacular. No prizes, no surprises, no miracles. But I caught up. I suspect you know what I mean. For years it seems I lived my life hurrying, grabbing metaphorical clothes from metaphorical racks, putting on my shoes as I ran, brushing my hair in a metaphorical car. The feeling didn’t leave me when I retired. Not right away. But, I had 57 years of catching up to do. Here are some small unremarkables from this week. I weeded, relocated a few plants, and watered everybody who needs it – by hand. I signed the contract for our roof replacement, confirmed that the

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Plant Of Desire: Pieris Japonica, Occasionally Known As “Mountain Fire Lily Of The Valley”

For the most part, I prefer my garden to my plants. I’d rather plant something I find boring by itself, for garden design, than a thrilling specimen that disrupts the big picture. Except, I’m really fond of my Pieris Japonica, particularly the cultivar called Mountain Fire. My best friend thinks it’s weird. You see it  above, disheveled and unruly behind a wayward Eastern redbud that keeps trying to grow back, some lavender, short bamboo, and two fronds of seeded grass. New leaves look like apricot-colored flowers. The flowers themselves resemble lilies of the valley. Sometimes exuberant, Sometimes moody. Pieris even does an excellent quiet sulk. The rest of

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Object of Desire: Rag & Bone Stretch Corduroy Blazer

Look at this perfect black blazer from Rag and Bone. You can get one of the few that remain if you act now. I’m trying not to, as I really ought to dedicate all resources to things like upholstery.   But stretch corduroy, with brass buttons? For fall? A camel coat layered over it, if it’s a cold fall? Sigh. Via net-a-porter, unsurprisingly.   Affiliate links may generate commissions

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Can You Make A Statement With Small, Precious Jewelry?

This post is presented in collaboration with Blue Nile The world has embraced statement costume jewelry. It’s big, if you’ll pardon the pun. Women over 50 are often particularly told to put aside their small pieces. But what if you prefer your statements sotto voce and your jewelry precious? And, what, we ask, if you want your fine jewelry to cost less than your mortgage payment? But of course. A few choices. Granny Charm Bracelets Let’s start with the biggest splurge. When my mother’s flock of grandchildren began to increase, I wanted to give her a present. Charm bracelets are traditional, but grandmother versions suffer from The Curse

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8 Simple Things Even A Complicator Can Believe

I may be a complicator. Made up word. I often find myself reasoning through something simple for others. I thought today I’d give complications a rest. We can all hold a few ideas to be self-evident. People, by and large, love their children. Or try to. Be nice to moms in supermarkets. Almost everyone will find a flower beautiful. Don’t overuse this power. We slow down as we age. This is both good and difficult. To sustain a long term relationship you will have to at some point suspend judgment. Eat well, feel well. Preparation creates the best outcomes, unless you’re in immediate danger. Or no danger at

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The Colors Of A Coastal Southern Californian Garden

I went down to see my mother and stepfather this weekend. Although I’ve shown you most of her house (here, here, here), I thought some of you might like to see just a few shots of the garden. Southern California’s very different from the North. We’re a big state, 800 miles from north to south. My mom’s house is 300 miles away, and that counts as close. Latitude isn’t the only difference. The cold California Current, which runs from Alaska to Mexico, warms up somewhere around Santa Barbara, encouraging a very different palette of plants. From the tropics, albeit the dry sort. I went out in the early

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Trying Out A New Silhouette That Forgives My Midlife Midsection

I’ve always preferred a fitted waist, to work with broad shoulders and a long torso, but I may be ready now to trade that off for comfort. Breathe an actual sigh of relief; I’ve been sucking in my stomach for a decade now. This will require some experimentation. So, last week my middle sister, my brother and I exchanged presents, as our birthdays fall in August, October and September respectively. I asked my sister for a top that would be kind to my middle. She came up with this Free People tee which I quite like. Available in all kinds of colors – some of which have a

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Not-So-Talky, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:40am

Seems I’ve done a lot of talking lately. So this morning, I’ll just pin some Saturday mornings things to my Pinterest board called, appropriately, What To Do On Saturday Mornings. Have a great weekend guys, talky or not-so-talky as you choose. Smooches to everyone what wants them.  

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A Rapture On Leaving The House And Meeting Some Humans

Sometimes the universe reminds you to get on out. Tuesday, I met the bloggers above. Wednesday, I attended a conference for independent web publishers, given by one of the ad companies I use in my sidebar. Both events proved the glory of the new. Sandra Salin, of Apart from My Art, organized the San Francisco lunch. Several midlife bloggers attended, none of whom I knew well. All are notable. Jennifer of A Well Styled Life writes for the Huffington Post. Elizabeth at The Vintage Contessa was featured in Advanced Style’s Instagram feed. Beth of Style At A Certain Age started blogging in March but has 13,000 Instagram followers.

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The (Graphic, Japanese) One That Got Away

 I’ve been ogling this Kenzo sweatshirt for donkey’s years. Seemed it might work wonders for  Extreme Casual jeans and khakis. Dramatic, but it’s amazing what a little art will do for an outfit that is otherwise, essentially, pajamas. A couple of weeks ago I saw a version in this gorgeous shade of peacock blue, perfect for my coloring, online at Nordstrom. But it cost $300. Surely, I thought to myself, I can do better? I hunted, and found one that looked to be a similar shade for far less money. But it was maybe too green? By the time I decided it was peacock or die (you know

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It’s Labor Day In The USA And We Have A Winner!

Thank you everyone for entering the giveaway for the Blue Nile hoops. You told wonderful stories, of jewelry and other talismans, from grandmothers, mothers, grandfathers, fathers, husbands, and yourselves. I always feel like your stories make words more real. The winner is Jane, and the hoops will join her Egyptian cartouche. Congratulations! Jane, please email me with your postal address, so I can wrap the earrings up and send them along. Thank you for joining in, and to Blue Nile, thank you again for what to give away.  

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Inside Out At The Multiplex, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:01am

Last week we talked here about movies. Then my husband and I actually went to see one. The earth stayed on its axis. In all seriousness, the multiplex at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon is pretty lovely. This one sits in the middle of downtown Redwood City, one of several towns on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula with a full commercial district. We got our tickets, ate lunch, walked around, and wandered back to the theater. We saw Inside Out. The seats were auditorium style, each row on a rise. A smattering of other people saw the same showing, and I’d say 3/4 of them were children. So

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Putting A California Garden To Bed In Late Summer

Snow does not fall in my back yard. The last time it snowed, and hit the ground and remained, was probably 1960. So the seasons do not put our gardens to bed. Instead, we do it ourselves. And, our dormant time, whether the vegetation knows it or not, is late summer. When the lavender is done and the camellias are hinting at winter buds. We know the time has come by a thinning of light and yellowing of leaves. Believe it or not, along with Californian informality we develop a sensitivity to the shift of seasons. Otherwise we might believe life never changes. Immortality is tempting. I cut

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Blue Nile For Back To School — Be It Undergraduate, Graduate, Or “School Of Life”

This post and giveaway are presented in collaboration with Blue Nile Most back-to-school efforts focus on grade-school supplies — pens, notebooks, backpacks — or college dorm furnishings. But the first day of graduate school can feel momentous too, a new job even more so. What might we give, to mark these occasions? I’d be inclined towards a talisman, a piece of jewelry that’s not too out there, but clearly personal. Something that could be worn every day, but not without notice. Blue Nile offers a host of possibilities. When I started business school I had to break a collection of Indian bangles off my wrist. The turquoise and

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The Moving Picture Show, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:38am

Here’s something I haven’t done in ages. Go to the movies. So, I think we’re going to remedy that today. Maybe. Plans often change. I was pleased at how quickly I could figure out a) what’s playing nearby b) what critics think of the various offerings. Google and Rotten Tomatoes, I forgive your sins of advertising and tasteless graphics, although Google, you’re still in trouble for what you do to privacy. In any case, this morning, I know what movies to think about.mI’m torn between Trainwreck, Inside Out, Ant-Man, and Mission Impossible Number I’ve Lost Count. Seems that these days movies are as gendered as the aisles of

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How Do You Feel About “Formality” In Your Style?

Often, it seems to me, the ideas of “style” and “formality” are smushed together. Conflated. Which can feel quite deflating, if you want panache without fuss. Or, if heels, hairspray, and tight waists feel out of place, for your body and your social context. Can we deconstruct? Of course! Picture The Role Of Propriety, Attraction, And Aesthetics In Style I can even show you an infographic, having amused myself this weekend designing one. OK. What the heck did that mean? Let’s do it by the numbers. Some people think in pictures, others in lists. Such is humanity, our glorious wrack of a species. What The Heck Did She

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Little House Stuffs, Big Effect

That was the scene on my kitchen counter top, until just recently. Not terribly attractive, as Mom might say. Since my kitchen is also my living and dining room, I knew I wanted quiet replacements. We would not welcome screaming. “I HAVE SALT AND PEPPER RIGHT HERE! NO, LOOK OVER HERE, DUMMY! ON THE COUNTER!” Since my cabinets are white, and my counters black granite and butcher block, I thought at first all the implements should be white, but, this white didn’t complement my aged melamine white. Clashing shades of neutrals, not attractive in the slightest. Hence, a blonde wood Peugot pepper grinder, which, my goodness, if grinding

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The Profound Impact Of Civility, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:30am

I was at my father’s house last night, he and I were talking. He said, and I paraphrase, “The question of whether evil exists has been central to theology for over 1000 years.” I promise, this was a logical remark, given our conversation. My immediate reaction. “Then since we can’t know about evil, we’ve got to try to be as civil and amiable as we can.” A series of images went through my head — a full day of Kind and Polite. Smiling at the checkout clerk and letting them know that yes, indeed, you did find everything you were looking for. A very Sturdy reaction to the

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Why We Keep Going Back To Napa Valley’s Carneros Inn

We spent our anniversary weekend at the Carneros Inn, in the Napa Valley. We’ve been there before. More than once. Why do we return? Is it the landscaping? I do love the mix of cottage garden and California natives, to say nothing of the multiple fruit trees. They’ve paved what used to be gravel paths, good for shoes, a little sad for my rustic longings. Is it the food? Weekends we eat breakfast up at the Hilltop Cafe; lunch generally at the pool, or with a sandwich at the little Market; dinners at Farm (we ate there for our actual anniversary night dinner but all I got was

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A Rain Jacket For Those Of Us In Deep Denial About Summer’s Passing

Sharing a post with Une Femme d’un Certain Age, as we have done before. This time, our topic is “Sneaking Up On Fall.” She is over here.  If Une Femme is new to you, you’ll enjoy her eye and her thinking, both. The other day I saw aubergine leaves fall from my neighbor’s plum tree. They flashed by like schools of fish turning in the sea. I’ll pretend it never happened. August rolls along in summer its whole course. But hey, might it rain in summer? Maybe not here in California, where our bones grumble for rain, but somewhere? And if it does, might one need a rain

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Two Years Ago Today, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:48am

Today’s our wedding anniversary. I wanted to share a few photos, some new, some already seen. My bouquet. I wanted a “whiff of decay.” By Sarah at Saipua, in Red Hook Brooklyn. My youngest sister loaned me a pair of earrings. Something borrowed. I can’t remember what was blue. I loved my hair, held up elaborately and a little goofily with various Swarovski crystal, quartz, and river stone hairpins. River stones, like pebbles. On our way up to the pre-ceremony photos. San Francisco’s City Hall is quite something. We held our ceremony on the 4th floor. My husband-then-to-be and I, alone before the ceremony. My beautiful children and

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Is There A Good Way To Buy A Bathing Suit, Even If You’re Over-50 Looking For A Bikini, Maybe?

Last December, I tried to buy a new swimsuit. I failed. Even the shop at the Four Seasons Hualalai came up short. Now, as one of my suits has popped a veritable rage of threads,and I’m dreaming of The Carneros Inn, I’m going to try again. Can Women Over 50, or Over 40 For That Matter, Wear A Bikini? A slight detour. Have you noticed the Internetting of 50+ women in bikinis? Helen Mirren says she will never live this photo down. Allyson almost broke the internet when she posted a very decorous picture. But maybe we’ll get used to it. Jocelyn is a regular French person, from

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Old MBAs Will Make Matrices Out Of Everything, Even The Process Of Learning Style

As you know, I’m in the process of learning about gardens and interiors what I knew about clothes. So I spend a lot of time studying, on the Internet. Information abounds. However, with several decades of adulthood and opinions under my belt, I work at keeping my mind open to new ideas and methodologies. I always find a good taxonomy prevents bias. Don’t you? I now envision style education across these two axes: Inspiration: Everything beautiful, totally your taste, who cares if it’s impossible! Education: Valuable skills, techniques, and principles, no matter whether you share the tastes of the imparter or not. Business school ahoy! I made a

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The Hands Of Time, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:05am

I love mornings. So simple and happy. Wake up, make tea, make toast, sit down, browse the Internet. I’m not easily simple, the drive to analyze is strong. But maybe complexity sleeps in. Saturday mornings I do all the above, but also, write a blog post. Imagined, drafted, written, edited, in the time between whenever I start my second cup of tea and noon. Them’s the rules I made. This morning, however, I sat down to write and realized that my hands hurt. Pain complicates. I imagine some of you out there are in pain and I want to tell you I am so, so sorry. I hope you

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Neiman Marcus 40% Sale On The Above And Beyond

  A Neiman Marcus sale may not be the right place for savvy bargains on classic basics. But it sure as heck yields some over-the-top, special occasion splendors like this Pamela Rowland evening dress. All silk, even the lining. Reduced from $3990 to $1596. I swear I’d love to wear that to something. Someone might like Donna Karan’s hooded jersey tunic, and wear it to everything, as a signature. And anyone might want a good trench. Yes, there’s a classic basic or two because, probably, someone Sturdy couldn’t help themselves. What sold out is sometimes the most interesting part of the whole shebang.

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An August Afternoon At Bean Hollow Beach On The Northern California Coast

As it happened, on Saturday the sun shone. Even over the Pacific. The beaches of this part of Northern California used to be a local secret. No longer. Take Highway 1, start at the small town of Princeton-by-the-sea (not making that name up, I promise), drive south. You’ll pass the larger town of Half Moon Bay, then the state beaches of San Gregorio, Pomponio and Pescadero. Pescadero is the most beautiful, wide and sandy, but on the rare hot coastal Saturday you have to arrive early for a parking spot. We were not early. So we drove even further south, to Bean Hollow. I’d never been there before.

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Cold Feet In The Pacific On Saturday, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:27am

It’s Saturday in California! To be precise, an August Saturday, in Northern California! The whole rest of the weekend, and the rest of the month, stretch out ahead. I’m in the mood for adventure. Just like the year when my children finally began to sleep through the night, after weeks of sofa-bound illness I feel my cheerful self return. Cheer demands we leave the sofa behind. Where to go? Maybe we”ll drive over the hill in search of fog. Americans tend to visit Northern California in February and March. I understand why, much of the rest of the country is in snow and sleet. But here that time

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The Best Hair Tool For Quick Polish Amidst Messy Hair Days

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, in which they reduce prices on merchandise before full fall pricing begins, draws to a close on Monday. I know this sale is the real deal because, before it began, I paid full price elsewhere for this hair straightener. The ghd Classic Styler. I find that using a straightener works really well for a retired lifestyle,  for my middling wavy hair in particular. I can wash my hair less frequently (which is good for its health), wander around in a ponytail or braid in the garden, put it up with a hair fork if I want to pull things together a little more for

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Was This My Fault? Or, A Review Of Two Books, “Hope and Other Luxuries,” and “Elena Vanishing”

As occasionally happens, I have a book to review. In fact, two books. One, written by a mother, Clare B. Dunkle, an author of young adult fantasy. The other, written by Claire and her adult daughter, Elena. Both recount the years of Elena’s anorexia. Clare’s book is called, ” Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother’s Life with a Daughter’s Anorexia.” Elena’s, ” Elena Vanishing: A Memoir.” It’s tricky to review these books because there are two stories to keep straight. Clare’s is long. Anorexia is a painful disease, its sufferers hard to like. But I find myself compelled to try because, although they were a challenging read, I

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A DIY Project For Really Lazy People With A Sense Of Humor Who Like Beauty

It’s hard for me to finish projects that involve working with my hands. Because, impatient. Because, bad small motor skills. But perseverance, humor, and community work miracles. Anyone remember the “I want gold leaf for Christmas” idea? No reason you should. How about “I am dreaming of fuchsias?” Oh how the stars align. Here we have a garden variety clay pot. I almost said “terracotta,” but apparently it might be “earthenware.” So much terminology. And here we have one “Speedball Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Kit.” It sat in my closet for 7 months, but never escaped the mental to-do list. Perseverance. The gold leaf comes in several sheets, interleaved between orange pieces of tissue in

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“Finternships” Could Make Use Of So Much Knowledge Capital, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:03am

It’s possible I have too much time on my hands. That’s quite an image. I see my hands, on the keyboard. Are they weighed down? No. I have time enough, just time enough. But I do have more capacity than I’m using. It’s been two years since I retired. In that time, I’ve been a newlywed, I’ve decorated my house, I’ve tended my garden. I’ve gotten sick, and lain on the sofa, despondent and barely moving. That was not fun. Recovered, I look around at everything both in place and in motion and I understand that I can do more. 58 feels youngish, even the kind of 58

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Taking Steps Towards Ethical Luxury, With A Merida Studio Rug Certified By GoodWeave

My children are grown. They don’t live here any more. Of course, now that I understand their capacity to thrive in the wild, I want them back. Ah well, let’s make lemonade. As we have discussed, I’m turning my son’s room into a workroom, albeit one with a piece of furniture that looks suspiciously like a bed. My daughter’s space, on the other hand, will become the Guest Room, capital G, capital R. But first we had to sort through two and a half decades of detritus. Beloved detritus. We brought both my kids home last month, with the express intention of clearing out. “OK, Mom,” said my daughter the morning after she

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What Would It Take To Wear This Out Of The House?

You may remember I proposed a hypothetical 4th of July outfit, here. Somewhere around 7 o’clock the night of the actual 4th I grabbed my youngest sister, and said, “Oh, hey, would you mind taking a picture for me?” So she did. We were down at my mother’s, in Santa Barbara. All the siblings, the grandchildren, some step-siblings. Crowded, awesome. I love this UNIQLO tee with its Stephen Sprouse print. Not remotely figure-flattering but hey, Art! The boyfriend khakis are 100% cotton from J. Crew, and extremely comfortable, while the JORD watch has been one of my most successful accessories ever. Havaianas, my Havaianas. But I wouldn’t leave

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The Simple Structure Of A Day, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:53am

This is going to be an embarrassing post. Retirement isn’t straightforward. At least not for everyone. When I first stopped working I asked myself, “Am I doing the right things? I cleared obstacles. Two years later I ask, “Am I doing what I’m doing the right way?” Working, your days are structured. Get up and go, every morning. Retired, you ask yourself, “And what to do today?” You always have to ask again, “And next?” This is hard on project people. We can’t treat our unstructured lives as a single timeline, or we launch only at death. Nor can we organize each day around multiple small projects, switching costs are too high. We have to prepare and contextualize, even for

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The Sale At J. Crew Just Got Really Good

Note to my dear email subscribers: Would you like me to send out extra emails the day of sales like this one? i.e. noteworthy? Please let me know in the comments, otherwise I’ll stick to weekly digests. Thank you as always for reading.   I have long since admitted to myself that if I could shop at one and only one sole-branded retailer (we’re not talking department stores or multi-designer sites), it’d have to be J. Crew. I know they’ve gotten a little wacky lately but if you look, they still do that mix of color and classic and insouciance we have known and loved so well for

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Object of Desire: One Fuchsia In A Pot

Fuchsias. First of all, notice the spelling. Fuch-See-Ya. Even though it’s pronounced Fyusha. One of the most frequently misspelled words in the English language. Second, nod to Aussie blogger extraordinaire, Faux Fuchsia. I appreciate her consistent authenticity and her authentic consistency. Third, and the project for today, think about planting the actual plant. Oh, wait, pause for a lovely moment to admire their grace. The anthropomorphic silhouette. I’m looking to refurbish the corner below, its inhabitants long since withered or repatriated to more hospitable climes. Ms. Bougainvillea needed more sun than I’ve got in this corner, off to my sister. Mr. Delphinium (tripartite leaves peeking out below purple basil in the

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Aging Out Of Shorts, And Into A Long, Navy, MaxMara Dress

This post is sponsored by Halsbrook. Retailer particulière to the Grande Dame in all of us. The photo above, although I didn’t know it at the time, signaled the end of my street shorts days. I’ve aged out. It’s not that I hate my knees, or worry about shocking my neighbors. But, to be blunt, I find the texture of my skin now argues for more coverage. Long shorts then unbalance my preferred modern/classic, masculine/feminine aesthetic. Now, giving up shorts in Northern California is not so hard. We can mostly make do with jeans. But there are always two hot summer weeks when you want to wear as little as possible. I have found myself wearing this

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Happy 4th Of July

Fourth of July Picnic, Rogers, Arkansas. c. 1904 A Very Happy 21st Century 4th To You And Yours!   I’ll be taking my quarterly blog break, see you back here the week of July 12th. May summer treat you well.

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A High WASP Glorious Fourth, From Coast To Coast

One of the things I have learned from this blog is how Northern Californian I have become. I am beginning to suspect we few High WASPs who journeyed West just can’t help but trend Artsy. I could discourse at length on High WASP geographical variants. A long time ago I posted on High WASPs in the People’s Republic of Berkeley. And again. That’s probably enough. Today we’ll keep it simple. What might High WASPs on both coasts wear for the 4th of July? It is, after all, our Carnival. We celebrate, we approach the fire, we wear bathing suits and feel naked.  Does the Artsy Californian sport red, white and blue? Yes. Yes she does. But what about

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The Feng Shui Of Paired Objects

Feng shui suggests that master bedrooms like paired objects. Feng shui is nothing like Science, but as I’ve said, it’s a reasonable organizing constraint. If you’re going to rely on uncertain principles, and design is uncertain, why not magic? Some time ago, I found myself compelled to buy two Murano doves. Perhaps I knew my future even then. Now, I’ve taken the birds off the dining table and put them on my chest of drawers. I find they’d like some company. Blue preferred. I have a soft spot in my heart for the most traditional of patterns – Herend china. I particularly like the bunnies. But perhaps more glass instead? When I was a

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All Kinds Of Tears, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:11am

Yesterday I cried a lot. First, the Supreme Court of the United States of America decided that gay marriage was legal all over the country. This is an issue near and dear to my heart. Imagine the old couples, marrying finally in their 70s. Getting to make that commitment and open statement of love before their time on earth runs out. Imagine the three-year olds, boys who think Prince Eric is prettier than Ariel the Mermaid, girls watching Mulan over and over again because how could they not? Think how their lives might open up. Maybe some day “Come out!” means more often, “Get in the car!” Said by mothers standing at front doors, everybody

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Your Work Clothes May Have Some Fun In Retirement

I used to wear a long white Splendid blouse over black bootleg cords. I used to wear pencil skirts with boots. I used to wear lavender, cadet blue, and dance oxfords together. To work. But this week I took that white blouse, a black pencil skirt and dance loafers out on a spontaneous little outing with my husband. I also took the opportunity to try my last set from Rocksbox. This time, jewelry similar to my own, but readily available and not-so-expensive. I see why Kendra Scott has become so popular. The earrings, from Gorjana. Where’d we go? On Wednesday nights, my suburb hosts an Off the Grid event. Food trucks from around the San

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In Northern California, It’s Hydrangea O’Clock

America’s collective consciousness knows the crocus, emerging from snow. We wallow in roses and peonies, come summer. And hydrangeas? In my part of California, the time is now. Drought brings burn. So be it. Lacecaps always show a little more decay than other varieties. With variegated foliage, Or straight green. I like to hide the classic mopheads, showy and homogenous as they are, behind lots of plant scraggle. I’m always pretending I live wilder than I do. These, for example, sit almost at my fence line. Now we’ve only lavender left between today and the quiescence of late summer. And after lavender, we won’t see new signs until leaves change, or drop. Until berries. Which – as late summer

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The Great Candle Burn-Off Of 2015 — Queen Diptyque Vs. Whole Foods Random

I used to scoff at “home fragrance,” back in the days when it came from factories and reeked of surfactants. Then I found candles, and plant-based scents. Now I can’t do without. I’ve always wanted to try Diptyque, the well-nigh historic French brand. Why? The logo? The countless inclusions in luxury publications? I have no idea. But in retirement, $60 seemed a lot to spend on special molecules for kitchen air. I went ahead anyway. Life’s like that. In the throes of resultant guilt, I picked up a Caldrea Herbes de Provence candle at Whole Foods. On sale for ~$11. Emotional equation #231: indulgence plus thrift equals virtue? Shortly afterward, I decided Sturdy Up and use my impulse

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The Best Kind Of Decluttering, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:01am

My son, my daughter and my daughter’s boyfriend are here. We’ve planned a morning of sorting and decluttering their old stuff, giving away some of my old furniture, and renting a Uhaul. Then we’ll head up the hill to my dad’s house to celebrate Father’s Day with most of my siblings and their families. Pretty much tops on my list of happy. Have an absolutely wonderful weekend.

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A Pair Of Crocs For Every Doorstep

This is my front entry. Old school doormat from our local hardware store, basic Crocs. Minimalist, with a little earthy texture for good measure. And in fact, feng shui says that sandy yellow and black are good for my northeast facing front door. Bonus points! I like a heel band, and holes in the body for easy hose cleaning. This is my side entry, the gateway to a future butterfly garden. Improvised step, green Crocs. These shoes have taken most of the brunt of the last 2 years of intensive gardening. I’m still thinking about what to do for the step – most likely I’ll lay out a few large

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Why Cut A Long Graying Braid?

By the time I got a haircut, my gray braid had grown down past the middle of my back. I loved the thing, in and of itself. Gray for pride in aging. The format, in my imagination, honored women protecting themselves from work injuries, burns, gears, small children’s maple syrup hands. So I liked what it stood for, but in the end, not the style. On me. That pinhead problem. You know, tiny head, larger nose? And, I could not wear this much hair down for more than 2 minutes. January was the last time I gave it a shot. Some fun new hairpins helped with updos, but the chop kept calling. Maintenance conspired; my hair tangled,

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Life As A Midlife Spy, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:24am

We are often encouraged to stay calm, and carry on. Serenity now, and all that. But every once in a while, let’s applaud adventure. Yesterday I walked around San Francisco. Nothing happened really, and everything did. Cities are like multiple tiny explosions, each person you pass, each red light that turns green, each glimpse of sky from behind a skyscraper. Do we say skyscraper any more? Adventure comes easily to the young, I think. Did you have wild times in your youth? Are you young? Are times still wild? Riding alone in elevators always makes me feel like a spy. Spies prefer blur. Big adventures are still possible – witness all the

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Writing The Book On High WASPs, As It Were

The book I didn’t write was to be about High WASPs. As I spend far less time writing in the voice of my ancestors these days, and I know some of you liked it, it occurred to me I could post the rough book outline. And then, perhaps, over time, the actual chapters. Or not. We’ll see. A look at the outline, however, will take all of 3 minutes, and serve as a nod to time past and confession. TITLE: The Secrets Of America’s High WASPs, or, Life in the Subjunctive Alternative Title: A High WASPs Guide To Life, If I Can Be So Bold Chapter List 1. What IS a High WASP?

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Master Bedroom Aesthetics – Anyone For Hot Pink?

We’ve made some progress sprucing up the master bedroom. First, we bought a gray velvet bed, from Room & Board. Then, a white duvet cover and pillows from local Rough Linen, and a lightweight down comforter from Warm Things. Buying sustainably has never felt so sweet. The bed and bedding, along with a neutral Moroccan style rug from Garnet Hill, puts us well on our way to serene, textured, gently modern. But, that’s not what I want. I’ve finally admitted to myself that I love a little drama. Not full-on, gypsy-colored, patterned extravaganza. Nor mega-glitz with shiny everything. No, I like architectural, vivid, global drama. And humor. Luckily, our dignified bed wants a

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When Weather Got Scary, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:56am

This is my front lawn. I’m letting it die. Northern California is dry. Actually, so’s the whole state, but that’s a lot of acreage and I can only talk about the part I know. We began drought-level water restrictions this month. We must cut usage 36% from 2013. A pretty precise requirement. Outdoor irrigation in my water district, Mondays and Fridays only. OK then. While I want to keep my garden — the California natives under the oak, butterfly habitat, dogwoods — I don’t really mind giving up the lawn. This seems like a good way to publicly support the drought restrictions, and blades of grass are the archetypal fungible entity, after all. But I do mind the

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Shop Now For Your Future Retirement, Or, Part B Of The Thoughtful And Stylish Wardrobe

And now, some thoughts on how you might shop today for tomorrow’s retirement. Working, I used a fair amount of my salary to buy stuff for stress relief. I think one is allowed indulgence. But with a little forethought, that indulgence becomes investment. What’s Gone? Over the last 20 months since I stopped working I’ve gotten rid of a lot of clothes. Mostly those that were neither comfortable enough nor special nor enough “me” to keep. The best of the last group I saved for my blog sale. Thanks everyone! Then off to the American Cancer Society went Monique Lhullier, Giorgio Armani tunic and pants, a shiny raincoat, Toast jacket, some Stuart Weitzman net pumps and several pairs

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Building A Thoughtful And Stylish Retirement Wardrobe: Part I

I’ve been asked, what about building a retirement wardrobe — while you are still working? Good question. Few people write about the topic; misconceptions abound. Am I the only one who imagines racks of lavender terry jogging suits and puffy white sneakers? I suspect many here hope to enter their later years in style, but also to set aside uncomfortable shoes, too closely-tailored garments, and hair chicanery. We may not be fond of the overly-cossetted look. I need two posts to fully answer, today is State of The Union. On Thursday (or Friday) I’ll give an account of what I kept from my on-the-job purchases, what I got rid

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It’s Time To Talk About The Ending Of Mad Men, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:03am

Just in case, before you see something you’d rather not, this morning I’d like to talk about the ending of Mad Men. We’ll wait a moment so those who haven’t seen it yet, along with those who don’t care, can skedaddle themselves out of here as fast as ever they can. OK then. Mad Men’s ending made me mad. For those unfamiliar with the series, but hanging in here because, “Hey, it’s Saturday morning and why not?” the eight seasons of Mad Men focused on a Madison Avenue advertising team, from its creation in the 50s to an acquisition by McCann-Ericsson in the early 70s. In particular, the series chronicled the doings of Don

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A Visit To The California Estate Of Filoli, Complete With Family Dreams Of Wendover

Last weekend, I visited Filoli, a Northern Californian turn-of-last-century estate. Well-known, much-visited, somehow I’d never made the trip. A reader of this blog was living temporarily on the Peninsula. We’d chatted about local things to do, and before she left she was kind enough to suggest, “How about Filoli, together?” It’s pronounced Figh-Low-Lee, by the way, after the first words in original owner William Bowers Bourn’s motto, “Fight, Love, Live.” Built in 1917, sited on 654 acres, now part of a land trust, it’s a wonderful, wonderful place. We started in the kitchen. Resurfacing my love for glass-fronted cabinets. To say nothing of crystal sconces, in the hallway.

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Halting The Downward Slide

In retirement, I have found it’s very easy to slide down the appropriate clothing ladder. All the way to the bottom. Especially when days consist of early morning pajama-clad and sofa-based writing, interspersed with garden forays and the boy child’s old Outdoor Action shirts. When I have to leave the house, I can’t be arsed, as the British say, to get dressed up. Luckily I haven’t yet shown up at the grocery store in pajamas. No, mostly when I go out – on errands, mind you, social occasions warrant a little more effort – I grab whichever pair of boyfriend jeans hangs on a chair in the bedroom, a t-shirt, a cotton jacket, and a

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In Memoriam For Lives Lost Too Young, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:08am

Just over a week ago, early in the morning of Saturday, May 16th, a truck and a car crashed on a San Diego freeway. The driver and passenger of the car, two young women, were killed instantly. They were medical students at UC San Diego, and friends of my daughter. That’s how I come to be writing about this today. There were five people in the car altogether. Two died, one was seriously injured, two less so. They’d all just received their results from the test known as Step 1, which is, as you might guess, the first step towards becoming doctors. They were coming home from a

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The Serenity Of Flowering Dogwood

3-2-1, cue month of online fawning over peonies. I always want to boycott. I cast no aspersions on preferences – peonies just seem too blowsy, too easy for me and my somewhat astringent tastes. Ah, give me dogwood any day. Give me flowers that appear to float on water. Give me random numbers made chlorophyll. Never mind the fanciful images. Give me serenity. I love them at a distance, the way blooms wander down a tree. I love them close up, like pre-teens after school, forming and reforming in groups. Does Lolly love Louis today? Yes. But maybe not tomorrow. Again with the fanciful imagery – we will

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Be Careful With That Spam Button Please; Also Some Other Notes And News

A few housekeeping notes! 1. While I’ve switched over to MailChimp, and Privilege emails with links to each week’s posts should be arriving smoothly, if you have a moment, I would to talk about when to use the Spam button in your email client and when to use the Unsubscribe link in the footer of the emails themselves. If the email is from Ms Grace in Uganda who needs money, or offers to let you shop and get paid if you send ALL your personal info, or promises INTEREST RATES UNDR TIN PERCINT, it’s spam. Click Spam. Yahoo and its brethren will then stop delivering emails from that

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Brooks Brothers’ Friends & Family Sale, Now Until Tuesday

(Publishing on a Sunday as is not the usual practice, because, stock is running low.) Everyone knows Brooks Brothers makes classic clothing. Everyone may not know that the company occasionally offers their classic pieces in materials from luxury European fabric houses. Besides, Brooks waves a navy flag like no one else. Right now they’re running a two-tiered sale, i.e. spring reductions get you to a certain price, the code BBFNF25 gets you another 25%. Below are my picks – sizes are limited but not absurdly so, Friends & Family offer ends Tuesday. And, if all you need a another sensible but not too dowdy striped no-iron shirt for

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Is Drudgery Inevitable, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:24am

Compiling 100 entries for the Pearl Source giveaway took longer than predicted. I started yesterday afternoon, lost steam last night, finished up this morning. Larks are like that. I’ve announced the winner on the original post. Congrats! I also thought, as I painstakingly entered the appropriate names into a spreadsheet (having reread all the comments to discern who was in the contest, who only telling a story, and who just making a cheeky remark (GSL of course)) about a conversation I’d had earlier with my son. Careers. I guess today’s question is: how much drudgery do we need to expect and bear up under, over time? When my

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The Beauty Of Flowers Who Have Met Their True Love

You all may remember Mr. D., the delphinium I grew from seed. Delphiniums take forever to germinate. I had given up hope when I saw the first 3 teeny leaves. I held my breath, hoped, realized he wasn’t getting enough light on my back patio, brought him inside, watered him, fed him, realized he still wasn’t getting enough light, put him in the front yard. Fed him again. He went nuts. In the fullness of time, it became clear that Mr. D. would never reach his full potential in my front yard. My stepmother, Brigitte Carnochan, is both a gardener and a photographer. She decorates with flowers in

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Dressing Up Extreme Casual With A Not-So-Casual Pearl Bracelet

This post is sponsored by The Pearl Source. Thanks guys! It is time for Privilege to give away a few pearls. As I said, back when, I own more than my fair share; earrings, a necklace, a pin. But in setting up this giveaway, I took my cue from pearls that got away, the 3-strand bracelet I had made from 7MM Mikimotos my father had given me when I turned 25. Traveling without a jewelry box leads to a fairly odd conjunction of accessories. A photo posted by Lisa Carnochan (@amidprivilege) on Aug 2, 2013 at 10:13am PDT I lost it in 2013, somewhere between San Francisco and

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A Mother’s Day Retrospective, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:51am

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the USA. Anne Lamott says she hates Mother’s Day, can’t say I agree with her. But there’s room for all kinds of opinions, and if I don’t like what I hear, I can close my laptop. Here’s what I do feel about Mother’s Day, or have, in years past.  I went through my archives and found a few old posts. 2009: Saturday Morning at 9:56am, Or, Mother’s Day Parade 2009 Redux: Saturday Morning at 8:05am, Or, I Spilled My Blood For You 2012: To All The Mothers, Realized Or Hoping, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:23am (I had that photo of me and Mom

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Can I Wear Pants To A Somewhat Elegant Baby Shower?

I don’t know how the rest of you midlifers feel, but I confess that when my children were big but not grown up, every passing pregnant woman surprised me. “What? People are still procreating? Aren’t we done?” I wouldn’t say it to anyone’s face, of course. But one’s own child-rearing is so all-involving, it seems like no other other baby might ever need to be born. Fortunately untrue. People have babies every day, they adopt babies, they create families. Which means, among other things, baby showers. A reader wrote to say she would be attending a shower at a modern, luxurious, but casual suburban restaurant. Asked if I

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When Children’s Rooms Grow Up

You guys up for another game of Give Lisa Your Opinions On Color? It was so much fun with the front door, let’s play for my “studio!” Yes, as part of my house interior update, my son’s room is becoming a “studio.” I use the quotation marks because I have not yet earned the right to use that term in its full sense. “Office,” on the other hand, feels a little “off.” (Sorry.) I may eventually settle on “workroom,” but I’ll see how the space evolves before deciding. This is how the room looked, before. The rug, a soft forest green carpet remnant, for floor play. Daybed, thrown

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Flowers In The House, Apricot Rose Edition

It’s time for Flowers In The House. Jane over at Small But Charming occasionally hosts a blogger linkup in which everyone posts photos of, unsurprisingly, Flowers In Their Houses. These are my apricot roses, in a brief moment of integrity before they begin to drop scented petals on the floor. Which may be their way of mourning the lost sun. After all, they started here. If you’d like to see more flowers, and it’s Monday, so perhaps you might, the other links are here. If you have a Flowers in the House post, please feel free to link up. And, if you do visit, please tell Jane you

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A Responsibility Of Privilege, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:41am

Thoughtfulness. I know you all feel as I do about kindness. Maybe thoughtfulness is one of the next practices that might come with privilege? In other words, given education, and experience, do we owe the world a willingness to stand and think? I was talking to my younger British friends, online of course, about parenting in America. They told me that from where they sit, young American mothers appear to be polarized. In this case, the battle is Sleep Trainers vs. Attachment Parenters. Do you put your baby on a schedule and let her “cry it out” when bedtime comes, or do you carry him everywhere, including into

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If I Were Stopping By Macy’s Today

If I were stopping by Macy’s today, I’d notice in the window that they’re having a 25% off Friends and Family sale. Wandering the floors, I might decide to finally pick up a pair of amethyst earrings. They are ostensibly $300, then half off in that frequent department store discount habit to $150, and then an additional 25% off for Friends and Family. Which brings us to, muttering under my breath as I arithmetic it out, $112.50 for 14K gold and ~6 carats of amethyst. Amethysts perhaps irradiated, but for a splash of purple I can forgive. Those of you with warm coloring might prefer these in citrine.

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Thank You To That’s Not My Age And To The Guardian

I’m very grateful and flattered to be included in Alyson Walsh’s article, “Getting married over 40: fashion for the meringue-averse bride,” up today on the Guardian’s online site. Alyson, the author of both the blog, That’s Not My Age, and a new book, Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous, has written about wedding style over 40. As always, she is witty and unpretentious, with style for miles. You should see the other brides she features. Thank you Alyson, and to the Guardian as well. All photo credit goes to Emilia Schobeiri, of Emilia Jane Photography. She is, as I understand it, quite willing to travel.  

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Rocksbox Redux – Defining What Isn’t Our Personal Style With Help From Friends And Family

Here’s another installment in exploring personal style with Rocksbox jewelry. The last set tested personal geometry. This time we’ll focus on ornamentation and color. In choosing my next pieces from the Rocksbox Wish List, I hearted a certain Gorjana cuff. Their stylist added dangling Trina Turk earrings, and a very dangly necklace by Charlene K. Pretty, right? But when I went to get dressed, this set fought with my personal style so hard it bullied me into a trip to Imaginary Texas. Standing outside Neiman Marcus in the Shopping Center. Seemed only fitting. In thinking about this set, I had planned to wear white jeans and a white

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The Boy Child Turns 25

  My son turns 25 today. I feel far too much love and pride to express in one blog post. Happy birthday honey. Much love, Mom.

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Tea And Epidemics, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:04am

This morning I will be having tea with Maryn McKenna, a journalist and author who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. How did that come to pass? These pages. I urge any of you who think about writing a blog, as long as you can carve out several hours a week and establish a routine, go ahead. It’s quite a journey. In other important news, it rained last night in California. Plants are celebrating all around us. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

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If I Were Stopping By J. Crew Today

We have a J. Crew in my neighborhood, as I imagine do many of you. I find their merchandising displays enchanting. The color mix! But if I were stopping by today, or this weekend, I’d try these on. I’ve been sending the universe requests for 100% cotton non-dowdy khakis for donkey’s years; maybe these are they. 100% cotton gets me the straight line from lower hip joint to hem that I prefer. I might have liked to have given these a shot, but I recently bought, and am wearing, these,     so I think I’m set for white jeans. Although, had I found the J. Crew version

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Untitled

Wishing us all small changes, day by day, for the better. Photo credit from NASA, here.

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Which Shelter Magazine Are You?

Having come very recently to the idea that we design interiors, they do not accrete themselves, I’ve been researching shelter magazines and sites. If we can use the term “research” for browsing images, pinning, yelping “Oh that’s horrible,” browsing, yelping, muttering “Maybe this one is OK,” and pinning some more. I grokked fashion mags. (Remember that word?) I understood that I preferred Vogue over, say, Glamour or Harper’s Bazaar or Lucky. I also understood that I didn’t want to dress like the models in Vogue, that their outfits created a system of crossed flashing and occasionally neon beams, like a light show at a Madonna concert, and it

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Process People And Project People, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:39am

I’ve been thinking recently that there are Project people and Process people. Project people gear up big, do a lot of talking before they start, plan carefully, manage to an end goal. Around about the 80% done mark they cry out, “What? I’m done! You all can take this the rest of the way.” They’d always rather do something new than something familiar, even the well-loved and well-known. Process sorts don’t like to talk about what they are going to do before it starts. They enjoy conversations about how well something is going as it happens, take missteps quite seriously, stay in the moment, and get great joy

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A Privilege Blog Sale Of A Few Beloved But Hardly Used Pieces Of Clothing

Anyone else still working on 2-year old resolutions? I can finally check off “learn eBay.” The pointe shoes sold. Booyah! Next step was to have been Sell Clothes. But I’m changing the plan. Turns out eBay is a community of its own, with particular behaviors. You have to know how to price, how to describe in eBay language, and you have to take a lot of photos. The good stuff often goes to people who arbitrage – i.e. buy goods and resell them. So instead of eBaying I have donated a good percentage of my no-longer-or-never-worn stuff to the local American Cancer Society resale store. Off went a

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If I Were Stopping By La Garçonne Today

If I were stopping by La Garçonne today (who now have a bricks and mortar shop in New York, which means of course that I’d be in New York, I’d be inspired to dress insouciantly but with a little polish. I’d like my stripes vertical, and muslin, if you please. Affiliate links may generate commissions.

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Is Gardening Nerdy?

This weekend I found a caterpillar in my garden. My first impulse was “Squish it!” — I don’t use pesticides, bugs are often bad news. Mid-swing I gasped, and dropped my arm. It was a Monarch. As many of you know, Monarch butterflies are endangered by the depletion of their natural foodstuff, the milkweed plant. As part of my Retiring To Values plan (I simply mean devoting more time to The Good), I have installed native plants under my oak, and now in my side yard as well. Milkweed features heavily. When I found the caterpillar, I was excited. As in, all is SO right with the world,

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No Balls In The House, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:27am

My best friend was in town this week. We truly met when our second children (my last, her second of five) were not much more than a year old. We’d encountered each other a year prior, when I walked past her house on my way to the park, but I’d been too startled and standoffish to make friends on the street. Silly me. Once connected, we were inseparable. We raised our children together, even though she stayed home and had 3 more kids while I went back to work. My friend has an uncanny ability to make adventure out of the mundane, to keep going when others (I

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What To Pack For 5 Days In San Francisco In April

I’ve posted packing plans for several destinations here on Privilege, from the Carneros Inn in Napa Valley, to London and the Cotswolds, to Europe, Manhattan, and Hawaii. But I’ve never written one for my home city, and it’s time. At the request of a reader, here’s a guide for a 5-day April trip to San Francisco. Rules Zero To Three: Packing For San Francisco In April The first rule of packing for San Francisco is: you can wear jeans anywhere, except, perhaps, and I cannot say for certain, to opening night at the opera. The second rule (for spring packing) is: read the weather reports. You may arrive

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When Paint Color Saves You From Bossy Tile

In the course of our house fixup, on our way to the big bangs (master bedroom, front door, and culling 27 years of kids’ stuff so there’s space for my new Albert & Dash rug) I’ve stumbled upon a couple of nice small improvements. The first, which I’ve shown you, was the laundry room. The second, the master bath. All I did was choose non-white paint for the walls. But I’m jumping to the end, let’s backtrack. Maria Killam, one of the interior design bloggers you all introduced me to, espouses a concept in which hard surfaces can be bossy. Yes oh yes they can. For 23 years

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Going In-World, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:44am

I was walking back from the grocery store yesterday, and decided not to check any of my social media. As a congenital Pollyanna, I do not think social media is “bad.” Nor do I feel the world is going to hell in a handbasket; I don’t wax nostalgic for a pre-machine era. But I do think we’re going to have to manage the seduction of the virtual exactly as we must every other overabundance technology has created. Consider food. We’re built to search for and store calories. We’ve automated the search, we have to manage our storing. Consider the combustion engine. We’re built to move around. We’ve automated

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If You’re Playing With Style Assumptions, Rocksbox Is Your Friend

You may have noticed the recent proliferation of subscription services. Sign up, pay a fee, and monthly deliveries of goods ranging from beauty products to pet supplies arrive at your doorstep. I’m not wanting to add stuff impulsively these days, so have chosen to sit on the sidelines. However, when Rocksbox, a service for monthly jewelry deliveries, got in touch, I had a thought. Why not use a service like this to explore style – to investigate new possibilities, or even understand my current assumptions? And I wondered if it might be fun for those of you working on new wardrobes – either for new body shapes or

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When A Garden Surprises At Easter Time

I spent a good bit of last week’s blog break standing in my yard, not always in the grip of awe and wonder. I waxed pragmatic – planted some things, pulled other things out of the ground, snipped errant branches, watered. And was surprised, as I am every year at this time, by a brief spate of pastel flowering. Mostly this garden is quiet. Green and white – with a few red berries and leaves for winter, a little pink from the lace-cap hydrangeas in early summer. No wall o’flowers allowed, unless they are white, and part of a green hedge. A pox on vivid. But when Easter

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The Point Of You When There Is No To Do, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:54am

I often think life should be lived backwards. I’m not thinking of Youth is Wasted on the Young, or Everyone Should Get a Divorce Before They Get Married, although both those ideas can be true. No, I’m starting to wonder whether everyone should retire before they start their career. One morning during my quarterly Privilege blog break, I picked up my lined yellow pad, crossed out To Do, and wrote instead, Things I Might Choose To Do. Then all day I tried to ask myself before everything, “This?” I’ve been planning and resulting my entire life. My work motto was, “Always Be Closing,” taken from David Mamet’s play,

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What If Stacy And Clinton Came Back, Took Your Clothes, And Gave You $5000?

How would you put together a wardrobe on $5000? I saw that Stacy London’s on TV again. Clinton’s been back for a while.  So I thought it might be time to have a What To Wear extravaganza of our own. We don’t do shame here, so we’ll leave out the Not. My take.   How About A Little Look At The Reasoning? Necessaries. Fancy underwear is great and all, I’ve owned my fair share of fancy Swiss cotton, but at the end of the day Target is my source of choice. As I’m small/medium-busted, they can even supply my bras. I wear flannel PJ bottoms to write –

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Why I Still Call This Blog “Privilege,” Or, Saturday Morning at 9:07am

When I listed my daughter’s ballet shoes on eBay, I was reminded that my user name in many parts of the Internet is Amid Privilege. You know how that happened. I started this blog as a way to explore and articulate my as-yet-unnamed family culture, to integrate it with my blurt-it-all out, notice-every-iota, feel-all-the-feels temperament. I had my reasons, as they say. In those early days, I wrote in a voice from my past, the imperious tones of older female relatives. Then, as it became clear that the artifacts and aesthetics of that culture were most interesting to readers, I began to write about style. This dovetailed quite

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Keeping A Resolution At Last, Also Known As, Pointe Shoes For Sale

Time to check off of my New Year resolutions. Wait. Some among you may remember vaguely but correctly, I made none this year. I’m talking about resolutions from 2014. What?!? I am a wholehearted believer in better late than never. I had vowed to learn eBay. Alicia Kan gave us an amazing guest post on how to do it. I had planned to sell my old clothes there, and my daughter’s rare, vintage, unused pointe shoes. When it became clear that I could not easily find volunteer work that fit with my other projects, I decided to conflate fashion, charity, and the blog. I have been giving most

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Urban Archeology To Decorate A Personal History

In just 17 days, for an as-yet-unknown sum, you could take ownership of an iron gate. Not just any iron gate, mind you. A work of whimsy and commitment. Starting bid? $35,000. Estimated to go for $70,000-$90,000. Not overpriced, in my opinion. Where’s this being sold?  Guernsey’s Urban Archeology auction.  And my goodness, look at what else is on the block. More wrought iron, here avec bunny. If you’ve no need for a balustrade, surely you want a lantern. No additional details available beyond the metal thorns and flowers.     But you might want to switch eras, might prefer industrial lighting.   Or to travel overseas, to

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#RememberingLisa, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:52am

I’m going to take a moment in memoriam, if you don’t mind. Lisa Boncheck Adams died yesterday, at the age of 45. She leaves behind a husband and 3 young children. I wrote briefly about her last year, here. Back when I first met Lisa online, 5 or 6 years ago, she was always open about her experience with breast cancer, and clear that her “survivor” status was conditional. In October 2012 her disease recurred, metastasized. She spoke plainly and openly about her treatment, dismissing both false hope and shock-mongering. She used her large Twitter following, in part, to remind everyone to get their medical tests, regularly. Not

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Some Small And Manageable Changes To A Small But Multi-Use Laundry Room

Although we began our ongoing interior fix-up with the master bedroom, that’s paused because, no kidding, our new bed arrived and we’re keeping the old one until my daughter is ready to take possession. It’s bedtastic round here, with not even room enough to roll out the new rug. I’m oddly untroubled. We moved on to painting walls. That took absototalutely forever, even though for the most part I just had everything re-whited. But it’s finished. So now, as we wait for bed removal and other acts of decluttering, I’m focused on quick hits. The table and pouf, for example. And, surprisingly, the laundry room. You can find

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Use The Shopbop Sale To Get Ready For Spring

Shopbop, an online store featuring many of the slight edgier but still mainstream designers, has a sale on. It’s tiered – meaning the percentage given depends on how much you spend – and uses the code: BIGEVENT15. I’m going to buy a pair of Citizens of Humanity white jeans for spring. I had been eyeing them, just yesterday, so clearly the universe is telling me the time has come. (If you hightail it over to Une Femme, coincidentally, she’s gone black for this event. Something for everyone!) JavaScript is currently disabled in this browser. Reactivate it to view this content. I’m also going to stock up on tees

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Simplifying The Kitchen, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:34am

  One imagines that in retirement one might indulge deeply in one’s interests. Yes, and occasionally no. In particular, I’ve always loved to cook, but now find myself looking to spend less time in the act. Turns out that the kind of cooking I liked, and did well, was of the Dinner Party variety. You know. Main course, 2 sides, perhaps even a soup, and dessert. 3 different cooking techniques, 29 ingredients, and 1842 dirty implements. All the spoons in the universe. The rush and steam of final minutes. Metal spatula clanging in the saucepan, transmutation. Doesn’t a wood spoon against Le Creuset enamelware feel almost silky? Burned

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Do You Wear All Black Because Your Courage Fails You?

Do you find yourself wearing an awful lot of black? And do you find yourself apologizing, if only to yourself, for your choices? Does an all-black outfit, we might ask, reek of defeat? No I say, no! Like anything we do, as long as we reveal our intent, it’s an act of courage. You just want to make sure you don’t wear black in default. As in, “Oh I have to go out, ugh, gee, do I have some black pants, oh good there they are at the back of the closet, what else, oh heck here’s that black sweater and by god I know those black pumps

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Modernizing And “Eclecticizing” A Pottery Barn Living Room

I just might be making slow progress in the world of interiors. I bought an end table that didn’t match my Pottery Barn sofa. How did it happen? We – happily – needed enough space in the living room for 4 adults to sit comfortably. A while back, I ordered a matching Pottery Barn loveseat. The adult who sat on said loveseat realized he needed a place for his tea mug, and another place to put his feet. As I already had a coffee table similar to this, and 2 end tables like this, even my timid self knew it was time to move on. In other words,

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7 Reasons To Watch “About A Boy” And Hope It Doesn’t Get Canceled, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:01am

I’ve had a little bug the past couple of days, and in my book, being sick means permission to watch as much television as possible. Yes? In any case, I was hunting for what to watch, being temporarily out of British shows, and stumbled upon bad news. They are quite possibly going to cancel About A Boy. Huh, you say? For those who haven’t seen it, and clearly you are many given the May Cancel status, it’s small. Nothing explodes, nobody chews the scenery, no lizards get eaten. The primary cast is made up of just 3 people. Locations involve a school, a side-by-side pair of townhouses, and

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Gong Xi Fa Cai!

In San Francisco’s Chinatown. I’m holding a fortunate purchase from last weekend’s street festival. It was labeled  “pinwheel,” but is actually 8 little pinwheels on a gorgeous gold foil structure,. Happy Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep take your pick! Similar clothing, which I wish the technology could make spin like my pinwheel. It was a beautiful day, I walked for almost 2 hours with happy feet. Affiliate links may generate commissions!

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Why Are We Better At Certain Kinds Of Style Than Others?

I was very interested to learn that many of you reverse my experience with style. While I am extremely comfortable with clothing but less so with interiors, you love interior style, find clothing more difficult. Which led me to wonder, why? Why would someone who: cares about aesthetics, enjoys implementing them in one area, might even be highly skilled in that area, not be comfortable in another? Isn’t design just design, independent of venue? I have a working hypothesis. Why Is One Kind Of Style Harder Than Another? I can think of two solid reasons someone’s capabilities might vary from domain to domain. One area simply leaves you

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La Garçonne 20% Off Current Sale Prices For President’s Day

Today is the last day of La Garçonne’s President’s Day Sale. Home of Tomboy Luxe, they’re giving us 20% off their already discounted sale, which means some items are now 60% off total. And there’s still good stuff available, with the code LGPD20. 20% off $772.00 will take your final price closer to $600. Invest in drama. Maison Martin Margiela does the tulle hem trend, in silk and polyamide. Being adults, we might even smile, and wash our hair. Or classic shoes from a design house with a legendary name. Rochas lizard-embossed flats. They come in bronze and black, too. Let’s see, at $315 on sale, down from

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The “Marry Ivy” Mom Sure Knows How To Ruin Valentine’s Day, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:13am

A sad state of affairs. It’s Valentine’s Day, 2015, and the most egregious advice on sex and marriage out there has co-branded an institution I love. No, I’m not referring to Mr. Kinsey and his club, or even Dr. Ruth and her empire, rather, to Susan Patton as the “P*ton Mom.” I’m eliding the university name for reasons that will become clear. Ms. Patton first came to public attention when she advised young women who attend an Ivy League school to find their husbands among  schoolmates, as anyone they choose later in life would be stupid. I abridge, but, not too much. Recently, Ms. Patton upped the ante

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The 2 Key Questions To Ask In Articulating Your Style: Clothing, House, Or Garden

Now that I’m writing about 3 areas of style – fashion, house, and garden – I notice a couple of commonalities. Seems to me in articulating style, of any sort, we need to ask ourselves 2 primary questions. What must our style do for our physical selves? What effect do we want to create, and for whom? The answers can be quite multi-faceted, of course. The needs and constraints of the physical self break into smaller and smaller components. Clothes: into heel height, strategies for 3 feet of snow, the number of compartments you like in your handbag. Gardens, into how much maintenance you’re willing and able to

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A Fairly Thoughtful And Just-In-Time Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

We give traditional presents on Valentine’s Day not because we lack imagination, but because our forebears were rolling in smarts. February and love call in fact for the shiny, the cuddly, the floral, and the significant. Needless to say, tradition can be upheld in intelligent, modern, and ethical ways. For The Women In Our Lives, Who Might Just Be Us Jewelry For, Or From, Your Darling I can’t think of any reason not to give pre-owned, or vintage jewelry. Price, environmental impact, and sheer desire for beauty, all conspire. If budget is in fact no object, this Chanel bracelet is still available at the vintage and consignment jewelry

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Earning The Right To Scold, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:29am

In retirement, I’ve been thinking about doing good. I confess that as a mother of small children, and then a manager and executive in technology, I cared less about virtue than excellence in my work. As a result, I’ve come at Good with the energy and naivete of a newbie. I include my emergent thoughts here, on Saturdays abstractly, and on weekdays specifically – teasing out what ethical commerce and lifestyle initiatives I might support. To be sure, my efforts are patchy, intermittent, and a little plodding. But they’re not nothing. I do get scolded. Which made me wonder, scolding, does it actually contribute to our collective virtue?

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Faith In The Face Of Newly Planted Native Plants And Their Ratty Selves

Gardeners are a faithful lot. We have to be. Native plants, those most virtuous of garden citizens, test our faith entirely. I have finished this spring’s new plantings. California natives under the Live Coast Oak, olive and “strawberry” trees along the back fence, and a couple of heuchera and nandina to fill in gaps close to the back patio. Does everything look fabulous? Not even. Let’s take a look at what I’ve got under the oak. Boy, that’s a ragtag crowd. I needed the hose to hand-water the natives and settle them in during this drought. In a couple of weeks, if we get just a little rain,

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A Post About Fashion And Identity, For The Most Part

A couple of weeks back, when Une Femme and I collaborated on posts about jeans, the last thing I expected was a referendum on whether I should wear skinnies. It got me wondering, “Why do people care so much about denim leg sleeves on a late-middle-aged woman?” Readers had commented either (we’ll use the most expressive examples), “You have a rocking body!” or, “You look like you’re picking up cardboard in good shoes!” I wanted to deconstruct what those comments might mean, with extra urgency because I realized I hadn’t yet come truly clean about why I resisted #teamskinnyjeans. So, at the highest level, why do people care

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Broth, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:32am

After a way too busy holiday season, life is finally settling back to normal. The house painters have left – they’ll come back later for a few final touches. And yes, the front door is unfinished but I have decided 1.) I don’t care right now 2.) maybe I’ll just get a new door. Mid-century modern, perhaps. While the painting pause fills my to-do list with all kinds of new stuff, I’m exercising strategic option #1 again, i.e. Just Don’t Care At Least Right Now. The best part of retirement is choice. And not caring means that this morning, as we speak, I’m sitting at my kitchen counter

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3 Public Service Announcements From And For The Privilege Community

I thought I’d round up a some interesting bits that have come my way from the community. 1. Mark Defrates Jewelry, the makers of that pentangle talisman, are offering a 15% discount for Privilege readers. No code to enter, just email Pam (markdefrates (at) mac.com) and let her know you have bought or will be buying, and she’ll apply the discount on the back end. I wear my pentangle every day now. 2. On February 2nd, Sylvia of 40+ Style is starting up a course called 21 Steps To A More Stylish You. It’s interactive online, and, although I have not done it myself, looks to be fun.

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A Few More Shots Of My Mother’s House, Santa Barbara Casual Elegance Meets Swedish Folk Empire

A couple of you have referred to my mom’s house lately, and Leslie, the blogger at Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, asked for more photos, so I snapped a few when I last visited. I’ve already showed you the living room, the guest house, a silver spoon, and the portrait of the 3 oldest kids that hangs in the master bedroom. This time we’ll start in the kitchen. The kitchen window, to be precise, with sunrise, and reflections. The kitchen sitting room, if that’s an an actual thing, also at sunrise. The brick fireplace was in place when mom and my stepfather moved in, they had the saltillo

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An Actual Room Of One’s Own, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:32am

I visited my mom this week. On the way to Santa Barbara, I stopped in the totally surprisingly adorable town of Los Olivos, to have lunch with Margy of Fool For Fabric. What a gift. You know when the universe offers you a token of future possible? Margy is older than I am. She’s been working in her studio for years, in various modes of creation. Now she sews some pretty astonishing clothes. While I’m unlikely to sew or ever want to – I struggle with small motor coordination – the meta-concept of a studio, now that’s something. I had always scoffed at a Room Of One’s Own.

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California Jeaning, North

Today une femme d’un certain âge and Lisa of Privilege are collaborating, each writing a post about the love we share for denim. We thought it might be fun to approach from the perspective of two Californians, one north, one south. Denim is our state’s unofficial uniform, after all. In the past, it’s been said that women over 50 shouldn’t wear jeans. To which I reply, “Ha!” Perhaps there is an age at which one puts denim aside, but it’s not 58. In the Northern Californian climate, denim is always comfortable and versatile. We alternate between classic and hipster, the SF Old World tradition coexisting with our counter-culture –

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Object Of Desire: A Simple Black Anorak

One of the best tricks I have to stay moderately stylish in retirement is to upgrade utilitarian pieces. If jeans, sneakers and tees have a little edge to them, I run far less risk of finding myself at the market dressed like a 12-year old boy. Which has happened. These days I’m thinking of replacing my 10-year old sporting goods jacket with a new anorak. Or parka. Do you think the word mys means different things? Let’s say no. In any case, anoraks have been so popular recently that they’re everywhere. The easiest option is an army green field jacket, but I want something softer than my J.

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Design With Courage, A Review Of “Simplicity” By Nancy Braithwaite

As I have said before, interior design scares me. What to wear? No problem. What to plant? Lots of suggestions. How to furnish a house? Yikes. I’ll come right out and admit that ever since I decided to update my house I’ve been dithering – bedroom furniture, front doors, cushion colors for my living room – what to choose? So when I saw this book reviewed – somewhere – I clicked over to buy it so quickly I can’t remember who to thank for the recommendation. In any case, thanks. I’m talking about Nancy Braithwaite’s manifesto Simplicity, on her interior designs. It’s large, full of images, beautifully presented,

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How To Fall In Love With Anyone, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:11am

This is a list of questions to make you fall in love. Sit with your partner, or friend, or even a stranger, both of you asking and answering. At the end you stare into each other’s eyes for 4 whole minutes. These 36 questions can make you fall in love with anyone I thought the idea was lovely, and perhaps even true. I sent it to my kids. When my son got my email, he was with a friend who had just told him about the same list. How did his friend know? His mom. Imagine mothers everywhere, knowing just how much love matters. Wanting our kids to

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Once Again, Technology Hiccups

Edited: The issues appear to have been resolved, happily, and we should be back on track with the usual folderol. Thank you for your patience, and Kelly Phillips at Boost Interactive Media for her help. Hello all. Once again I am having issues with email post notifications. I am not yet sure whether this is a software issue, i.e. to do with the WordPress plugin I use, or an email delivery issue, i.e. the email service providers like Yahoo and Google having decided that my blog posts are evil;). I’m working on the issue, but tech support is reeling under post-holiday demands. If you happen to land here,

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Is The World Getting Worse Or Better?, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:35am

Is the world getting worse or better? I worry, because I have assumed all my life that it’s getting better, and if I’m wrong I’ve made some bad choices. So this is a serious question, albeit one in need of clarification. Here’s what I mean by getting better. Are we finding our way to more well-being for more sentient creatures? Well-being in the sense of physical health combined with social tolerance, or, best case, kindness? I believe the more people who live healthy lives, allow each other to do the same, and accept others’ non-violent personal choices, the better world the world becomes. One note. I weight this

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Packing For Not Quite A Week In Hawaii

I’ve become an unwitting expert in resort packing. I’d shake my head over my own frivolity, but would rather give the frivolous knowledge away and hope it’s useful. Here’s what goes in my suitcase. I plan by “use case” rather than by item type. Key takeaway, please do not underestimate the versatility of white cotton sweaters and jeweled sandals. Packing List for The Four Seasons Hualalai on Hawaii’s “Big Island” Dinners Tori Richards shift I bought in Kauai Karen Millen Lavender cotton shift (the Karen Millen needed dry cleaning, as it turned out) Tory Burch skirt (didn’t wear it) White cotton sweater, comparable Day 2 bathing suits (no,

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Helicopters And Volcanoes

The Four Seasons was glorious, but we managed to leave once or twice. Hawaii is a pretty compelling island after all. First, we all ventured out to see one the island’s live volcanoes, Kilauea, from a helicopter. Along with a few cliffs and waterfalls. The volcano made me cry. Not because I’m afraid of lava, although, of course, I am, but because it brought home how alive our planet is. A living system. We flew right near the caldera. You can see a bit of molten lava through the smoke, like an invisible spirit’s campfire. The rest is flowing, underground in tubes, or overground through the forests. This

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A Review Of The Four Seasons Hualalai On Hawaii’s “Big Island”

In the middle of December, Significant Husband, my two grown children, and I packed up and flew to Hawaii. The Big Island, to be specific. Our destination? The Four Seasons Hualalai. Two years ago we stayed at their sister resort on Maui, this time we thought we’d try remote-ish and volcanic. Let’s start with a brief overview of the facilities. Catnip to the resort aficionados among us. The resort consists of: An open-air lobby 6 swimming pools (main rectangular pool, 2 children’s pools, an adult’s only infinity pool with swim-up bar, lap pool, and a salt water pool with fish in it. Yes, fish.) 3 restaurants (Italian at

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When Last We Spoke, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:05am

Since last we spoke… Oh, wait, where are my manners? How are you? Did you have good holidays, if you were celebrating? Did you get way more done at work than the rest of us, if you were not? And Happy New Year again to all. OK then. I am as full of ideas about house decorating, gardens, adult children, the meaning of life, and, yes, fashion, as ever. But before we return to our usual fare, can I prevail upon you to join me in a group deep breath? And to take a brief look back at the past 6 weeks? Since right before Thanksgiving I have:

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2015

  Clear sailing ahead.   Photo: “Glide” by Dmytro Kochetov. Lake Tahoe, December 2013. Via Flickr, here. Red glitter for font, also via Flickr, here.

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Holiday Break, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:43am

Time for the Privilege holiday break. For all of you celebrating Christmas and the Gregorian New Year, may all your festivities be glorious and bright. For those of you in other cultures, may your next couple of weeks be as full of peace, hope, and joy as humanly possible. Thank you so much for reading. Have a wonderful weekend, and I will see you in January, 2015. My how time flies.

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Mad Dogs And Englishwomen: How To Buy A Swimsuit In The Wintertime

My family has a tradition of winter trips to warm places. Usually warm places by the seaside, where, with any luck, we swim. Here’s the thing. Have you ever noticed how swimsuits seem to age even when they’re just drawer-warming? How suits that looked great in August become unwearable by December? What’s up with that? And it’s hard to find warm weather gear in cold weather times. Therefore, in preparation for this year’s trip, I thought I’d run to Nordstrom. I imagined myself emerging victorious, with one of the suits below clutched to my breast. Nordstrom is almost always my go-to store when I really need a functional

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Should I Give My Boss A Gift?

The worst holiday present I ever got came from someone I quite liked. It wasn’t an insult or lump of coal. Nor was it wrapped in glitter paper, to explode into the carpet and sparkle like a drunk party-crasher. Nope, it was simply a present from a peer at work. Wine maybe. But it was all done up, with a card and an envelope. And I had nothing to give in return. “Hells bells!” as my father might say. Workplace giving can be tricky. Oh, at a Fortune 250 company,  it’s OK. HR makes sure you know who to give presents to, and when, and how. Or, at

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Let Us Remember That Presents Can Be Awesome, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:57am

My Aunt L., she of the recent 80th birthday and head prefect of Sturdy Gal Academy, gives all her adult nieces and nephews Christmas presents. I will point out, there are a lot of us. Win had 4 daughters, my mother 3 daughters and 1 son. But every year Aunt L. wraps and delivers to everybody. The best present she ever gave, which, in retrospect, may be one of the best ever given or received in my family, was a net bag of chestnuts and a chestnut roaster. Since we tend more, as a group, to irreverence than nut roasts, when the time came to go home one

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A Couple Of Dumb Lessons From My California Winter Garden

Gardens are such obvious teachers we might wave our hands in dismissal. “Oh,” with an additional shake of the head, “We knew that already!” But in these days of information and calculation, dumb lessons dog us. Imagine a California garden in winter, for example. Palm trees, surfers and tropical flowers may come to mind. Nope. We’re north. Home to fallen leaves, red berries, and decaying camellias. That particular camellia is a sasanqua, if you wondered. My part of California doesn’t go white in December. We’ll get gray skies with rain, or blue with still-warm sun. Both support growth. So little new green things sprout just as our leaves

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Presents Anyone Can Give To Me (And By Extension To Their Friends) This Christmas, Ranging From Reasonably Priced To Totally Frugal

  *That song was in fact, Belinda tells us, written by Nick Lowe. Elvis got me through the rocky parts of my 20s, so gotta keep him on the card. My friends, we have come to the final installment of the gift guides you requested for this Christmas season. I hope that if you celebrate the holiday your preparations are going smoothly, accompanied by humor and grace from your comrades in crime. Here are some affordable presents I myself would like – now that we’re talking me we’ll use the High WASP term, “presents” – ranging from reasonable-ish, to full-on, can’t-do-much-better frugality. I hope you find some ideas

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Thanks And Favorites, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:34am

About that Thanksgiving menu. The Diestel heritage turkey, delicious. A meat thermometer is critical, however, as it cooked much faster than advised. Gravy from roux (half pan drippings, half butter, plus flour) and giblet stock, with chopped turkey liver? Do pour in the glass of wine that the Diestel site recommends. Tasted just like mom used to make. Hers was salty too. How about the carbs and sugar? Salted caramel apple pie? Divine. Salt, sweet caramel, and the tree-redolent tang of apples kind of divine. Your son using his childhood origami skills on a pie crust lattice kind of divine. Meanwhile the recipe-from-can pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes with

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Host Gifts For The Male High WASP Style Archetypes

Sometimes, your host is a man. If he’s High WASP or, no matter his background, exhibits telltale similar behaviors, here are a few brief suggestions for gifts on arrival. Arrive at the Master of the Universe’s party with your smart phone to hand. Take your host aside and tell him, if anyone needs a ride home tonight, the Über bill is on you. If you are boycotting Über for their CEO’s bad behavior, which, granted, the Master probably doesn’t mind, go with Lyft. Bring the Artsy Cousin something funny but pretty for his meditation practice. Buddha can glow in 1 of 4 colors, so M. Artsy can even

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Hostess Gifts For The Style Archetypes

Along come holiday parties, laughing all the way. It’s so nice when guests bring presents. But here’s the rub. Everybody can find something to hate about anything, “Can you BELIEVE she brought a perfectly hand-crafted widget that she had the GALL to make with her own hands? She KNOWS I have no space.” So don’t spend too much money, or fret much about the perfect object. It is the thought that counts. Of course, we don’t want to offend. No cheese to vegans, no alcohol to teetotalers, no Christmas-dominant objects to observers of other winter holidays. Oh, and no scents for the scentsitive. To my way of thinking,

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How To Create Fun, Memorable, Even Beautiful, Christmas Traditions On A Budget

You all asked me for some posts about holidays on limited budgets. I’m right there with you, and it’s actually quite a lovely spot. We’ve got options. For example, we can shift the focus from gifts to ambiance. Consider decor, and the many ways to intensify the jolly without diluting net worth. Wallet-Respecting Yet Christmas-Cheering Decor Christmas trees. Trees are priced by the foot. Under 6′ is affordable, under 5′ even more so. So go small and go crazy with your hoard of decorations and lights. Find impact in density vs.verticality. If you do have extra money in your pocket, seek out an organic tree farm. I found

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Only One Thing To Sale About Cyber Monday: La Garçonne Has 15% Off

La Garçonne,  maîtresse of the Polished Tomboy guild, is having a Cyber Monday sale. 15% off with code CM15REG. Oh, and they have cool stuff for men too. Their goods are expensive, but so elegantly chosen and displayed, I can browse their site without heartache at what I can no longer afford.  And what wonderful, extravagant gifts, for someone.   Affiliate links may generate commissions.

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The Original Sturdy Gal Turns 80, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:03

We rolled straight from a lovely, small, simple Thanksgiving into a birthday party for the original, iconic Sturdy Gal. My mother’s younger sister turns 80 this year, and her 3 sons and their wives organized a surprise dinner for her with 65 guests. It was just wonderful. My aunt was toasted and honored, for her generosity, her caring, her intelligence, her competence. Stories ranged from the ditch she dug recently to get at a couple of broken pipes, to her games of “Sardines” with