Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coffee cups and memories

I admit it, I am a coffee cup snob. I like sturdy, oversized mugs with large handles so you can get a good grip on what you are drinking. Not for me are the delicate china cups, Styrofoam containers or tea cups wishing they were coffee worthy. I don't even like Starbucks cardboard cups. When I am in their stores I ask for a mug...yes, you can do that. On the occasional morning I make use of their drive thru, but when I get home I pour that liquid energy right into a good mug...probably one that has their name emblazoned on the side.  You see, I love drinking coffee. Straight up, nothing added to it black coffee, hot and fragrant. I love everything about it from the smell of the freshly ground beans to the aroma of perfectly brewed yumminess. And to fully enjoy the whole coffee experience, a good mug is essential. I had a friend who used to serve me coffee in a clear glass mug. She was sadly misguided, bless her heart. The other morning my friend Marilyn and I tried out a new breakfast place.  We were delighted to find they served excellent coffee in mismatched but wonderful mugs...and the breakfast was pretty good, too.
Knowing how I feel about the coffee drinking experience, it should be no surprise that I have an extensive collection of mugs I love. I have so many of them, I have to limit those I use so that my kitchen isn't overrun. The rest are safely packed away, awaiting their chance in the cupboard. I have tried over the years to give them away, but the most I can manage is to send one of two to my mom or my daughter so that they can enjoy them...or I should say, so that I can enjoy them when I am visiting. So many of them have histories, you see. Like the one my kids got me one summer when we were camping. I wasn't feeling well one morning so they went on a hike with my then husband, while I stayed at camp feeling pitiful. When they returned they brought me a locally made pottery mug in a gorgeous lavender shade with Pine Lake engraved on the side. The best part is that they had taken the time to fill it with coffee from the little store where they bought it. How do you part with something like that?  Then there is the mug with the Los Angeles skyline on it my mom bought me when I was visiting her and the one my daughter sent me from Texas that is a creamy white with a gold handle. I have a Neiman Marcus Christmas mug from 1997 that I got in a gift exchange and a blue Starbucks mug that is the exact size of their grande cup.  I have a handful of Thanksgiving mugs, a few Halloween ones and a nice assortment of Christmas mugs. I have a Fiesta mug in lime green and a blue and white Spode Delamere.  And I can recall exactly when, where and why I bought each one.
I have a feeling that one day when my kids sort thru my things, they will look at my collection roll their eyes and say "Sheesh...think she had enough mugs?" But maybe, just maybe, one of them will say, "Hey! I remember when I bought her this one!" And maybe, just maybe, they'll put that one aside to take home and put in their own cupboard.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Aqua Net and Hairpins revisited

I got my hair cut today and as I watched the stylist add a quart of hair product I did not want and had specifically declined, I thought about all the many things I have done to my hair over the years.  This post is from May 2013.  Enjoy!

My hair has been thru a lot.  It's a wonder I have any left considering the things I used to do and have done to it. When I was little there were two choices for my hair.  Pigtails or not. That is actually the way my mother asked the question...do you want pigtails or not? If I went with pigtails, I could add ribbons to the ends and barrettes at the sides.  Sometimes the pigtails came with hair stretched so tightly away from my face I looked like a premature facelift casualty.  If I chose no pigtails, I still got the barrettes or maybe a hard plastic headband that made tiny dents in my head with its vicious little teeth.  Pigtails or not lasted until around 4th grade when it became ponytail or not.  By then the plastic torture devices had been replaced with stretchy headbands.  I had a black one with Susan written in gold cursive. I loved that headband.  I wore it until the gold flaked off and it read S_sa_. By the time I got to high school, hair exploded.  I teased my hair to within an inch of its life, sprayed it, then teased it again. Bangs below my eyebrows, crown of hair reaching toward the sky, with a cute little clip-on bow delineating the separation. Unlike some of my friends, I always checked the back to make sure everything was smoothed down, right before I AquaNetted the heck out of it.  My best friend Barb never bothered combing the back since she claimed she never saw it, so what was the point.  As I was at least 3 inches taller than her, I could have told her what the point was, but I was nothing if not a good friend.  Huge hair was so out of control, articles were written in the LA Times claiming tough girls hid razor blades in their do's and, since you didn't comb out a good tease for maybe a week, sometimes black widow spiders made nests in them. At my high school, all the cool girls had wiglets. Constructed on a stiff net, a wiglet was 3-5 inches of hair that could be washed, set and styled into a froth of hair sprayed curls and attached to your real hair with built in combs. Girls would bring them to school before a dance, pinned on Styrofoam heads so that we could ooh and aah over them.  I didn't have one.  My hair is red and there were no wiglets for redheads.  What I did have was a custom blended 2 ft length of hair from a high end department store, fastened in a huge knot at one end. It could be left loose in a free flowing pony tail or braided and coiled into a sort of hair crown attached with dozens of hairpins. My freshman photo shows me wearing it plopped on the top of my head like a Davy Crockett coonskin hat, my own shoulder length hair in a cute little flip below. Around my senior year, we all got over the need to lacquer our hair, yes they really called the product lacquer, and things got a whole lot simpler.  We wore it long and straight or long and curly.  If you were a straight fan and your hair wasn't, you either ironed it or set it on empty soup cans...yes, that is right, soup cans.  If you wanted curls but weren't born with them, you got a perm.  Eventually even guys got perms.  I had a friend in college whose perm went horribly wrong, causing him to shave his head.  He got a nice settlement in exchange for the promise to take the salon's name to the grave.  Today the thought of teasing, or as we called it, ratting, my hair makes me laugh.  So does the idea of sitting for an hour under a plastic hood, hot air burning my ears while baking my hair onto rollers. Those days of bobby pins, clippies and Dippity Do are long gone and not missed at all. I still have that long braid somewhere.  And I still wish it was a wiglet.

Monday, November 24, 2014

My days are not perfect, but perfection can be so boring

I turned 62 today and while that is not a typical benchmark year, I feel that at my age, every birthday is cause for a little hoopla. In 1929, the year my mother was born, life expectancy for women was 58.  By my birth year,1952, it had risen to 71.  Today it stands at 79.5, although apparently if I were living in Monaco I could expect to live until at least 89.  Must be all that French wine. On the other hand, if I lived in Tansania, I would have already reached my expiry date.  My mom is now 85 and shows no sign of slowing down, so I'm thinking that bodes well for me, but you never know.  In fact none of us, no matter how old we are, ever knows what the future will bring or how many more years we will have on this earth. All we can do is enjoy each day as it comes, realizing that each day may not be perfect but each day can be pretty good.

My birthday started at 5:45 with my dog begging to go for a walk, which is way too early to be happy about it any day that happens let alone on your birthday. I went out the back door to the grassy area that the apartments are built around. It was dark so I had to use a flashlight to make sure I didn't step in stuff I didn't want to step in.  When we set off, there were no lights on in any other apartments, but there were lots on by the time we were finished. I try to be quiet on these early morning treks, but dogs apparently love to bark at other dogs as they do their business. I think we woke up every dog in the complex, who in turn woke up their humans, who were not happy if the frequently voiced "HUSH" was any example. It rained late last night, then dropped below freezing in the wee hours, leaving the sidewalks slick as, well, ice. I was in the mood for a birthday scone so after feeding my dog, I headed out the front door on my way to my beloved Starbucks, and quickly realized that no one had availed themselves of the ice melt that management supplies us with, despite the fact that all 3 of my closest neighbors had left before me. Maybe instead of being rude they just have better balance than I do. I sprinkled the crystals all the way to my car, then stepped off the curb and almost went down. 10 minutes later, after scraping the windshield and letting the interior thaw, I drove to the gas station, stopped the car and popped the little latch for my gas tank cover, only to find that it had frozen shut. I imagine I looked a little ridiculous jumping in the front seat to jiggle the latch, then running around to the other side to see if the door popped open, smacking it to loosen it up, then back to the front seat to jiggle the latch again.  As I repeated those actions 10 or 11 times, I amused myself by thinking of someone watching a video feed and seeing my odd choreography.  Just in case that actually was happening, I made sure to send the camera a big cheesy grin and flashed a little V for victory. By the time I pulled out of the gas station I was once again shivering in the cold. But it was all worth it as the cheerful person at the Starbucks drive thru handed me that steaming cup of deliciousness and that lovely little bag of yumminess. Coffee and scones make everything better, even a cold day that started at 5:45.

My point is this.  No day is perfect. Not today or yesterday or last Tuesday. If the future held only perfection, I'm thinking it would be a little boring.  The best you can do is try to balance the irritating, the absurd, the heartache with the empowering, the silly, the joyful.  I have a tattered and very loved Eddie Bauer sweatshirt that has Balance embroidered across the front. A gift from my daughter, it's no longer fit to be seen in public, but 20 years ago I wore it a lot.  People never failed to comment on it. "Ah, yes, Balance!" they would murmur. "That's the key, isn't it?" I was telling my daughter one day about my sweatshirt apparently inspiring insight and deep thinking and she said "You realize, don't you, and that you haven't been an advertisement for yin and yang so much as a walking ad for their new men's fragrance, Balance?" Somehow knowing that made wearing it even better.  Balance, you know?

"I ain't here for a long time, I'm here for a good time. So bring on the sunshine to hell with the red wine, pour me some moonshine!" George Strait