Monday, October 28, 2013

Plumbing Problems and Tulle Skirts



As you all know, plumbing problems are the biggest pain in the tuchas. They're not only intimidating, destructive, sometimes difficult and often expensive to repair, but they can make you feel defeated and deprived. In this case, it was a dying pressure relief valve on our water heater, and the failure of this single piece of plumbing hardware took away our hot water, making it really hard to maintain basic hygiene ( yak!) It also deprived me of long, luxurious soaks in my tub, and made it impossible to color my hair.


(This is a new pressure relief valve.  It is not as innocent as it looks.)

The fix for this snafu was simple in theory: turn off the water, disconnect and unscrew this little item, screw another one in, reconnect it, then turn the water back on and you're back in business. The problem is that the little bastards have a tendency to seize up and won't budge. This one was just such a stubborn little bastard. Much heaving and hammering, huffing and straining ensued.  Without boring you with all the details, it took us several days (!!) to get it unstuck and get our hot water back. And when we did, we were seriously proud of our accomplishment. (Dan was the one to actually make it move, but I take credit for taking many futile turns at yarding on the pipe wrench, and the eventual application of the penetrating oil that finally dissolved the mineral deposits that made it stick. )

Reasonably, you ask, "What has this to do with personal style?" The answer is this: the triumph one feels over a big plumbing problem solved is a huge confidence builder. That burst of self-assurance combined with the giddy, celebratory relief of having your hot water back is so heady that you can suddenly feel confident enough to wear whatever you 
damn well want to.

My little black tulle skirt has been hanging in my closet for months, and I've never worn it for fear of looking like a modern Miss Havisham. So full of self-esteem was I that it suddenly seemed just the thing to do. A woman who can help fix her own plumbing and manage excellent hygiene for days without hot water from the tap should be able to wear a tulle skirt with aplomb. 



 I swear that when I opened the closet, I heard that little wisp of a skirt whisper "Now... now is the time ..." in that swishy, scratchy, soft voice that tulle would have if it possessed the ability to speak. I also pulled out the black nylons with the tiny polka dots, just for this special occasion. Woo hoo! I thought my new, black, moto-ish jacket helped push this combination right over the edge. 


 I wore the whole outfit to the restaurant on Saturday evening and had the best time! I'm unlikely to wear it often, but it felt good to try it at least once. And not one person thought it was a Halloween costume. Or said so, anyway.




Here's Dan feeling too cool to be seen without shades. He's not only happy to have the job accomplished, he's relieved that I'm no longer freaking out. He's also wearing one of his Phillip Lim for Target shirts that he found on the clearance rack. He had a good week several ways.   


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So ... thanks for reading, have a great week and remember:


Wherever the confidence or inspiration comes from, whether it's from the pages of Vogue or Plumbing for Dummies, it can feel wonderful to grab it and run with it!

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Late Breaking News!  At last, I'm in time to link up with the Fabulously Talented and Intriguingly Interesting Spy Girl, Anne and her  52 Pick-Me-Up  linky party!  I'm going to visit with the most interesting women ... join me!

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Carrie Bradshaw-ish Moment ...



This is about as close to a "Carrie Moment" as I've had. (Carrie Bradshaw, not the Stephen King sad Carrie that had the bucket of pig blood dumped on her head and retaliated by psychically burning and exploding her entire town. I've had fantasies like this, too, but that's a story for another day.) If you don't recognize the contraption I'm grasping possessively, it's a "four straight-armed commercial clothes rack". All shiny and perfect and with locking rollers. And although it looks like I'm either making a V for Victory or indicating "Peace, baby" in the photo, I am actually telling you how many of these clothes racks I have! Two! 

I'm so happy.



Dan saw a dozen or so of these sitting on the mall sidewalk outside what had been the Goody's clothing store. The store was closing forever and the doors were open only to liquidate it's fixtures. I've wanted some just like these forever, but I didn't want to stop and inquire about them, sure that they wanted too pretty a penny for them. But Dan wanted to check them out, just in case. He often has a nose for great bargains. (He of the vintage tan cashmere overcoat he got for a song, years ago in Seattle. I don't even own any cashmere!)

"Twenty dollars ... for two," said the very nice young lady who was working the liquidation sale.
"Yes, please!" we said, in unison. "Really ... for two of them? We'll take two! Thank you!"

We were driving our little car, so we had to disassemble them to get them home, but we managed. And I now am on my way to having one of our extra bedrooms converted into a walk-in closet, sort of. Remember Carrie Bradshaw and the walk-in closet of her dreams? It's not in Big's Manhattan town house, but I know how she felt. And Dan gave me that fantasy for a mere $20.00 and a little quality time with a wrench and a pair of pliers. It's only a step, but it is a step. What a guy.

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And look ... I gotz boyfriend jeans! Not the most flattering pants I've ever worn, but I surprised how much fun they were to wear, rolled up and with ankle booties from Target adorned with a satisfying number of straps and buckles. 




Additionally, the excellently fitting, perfectly priced black blazer is one less item I have to check off my Fall Lust List. I'm not the one in our family that loves a bargain just for it's own sake, but I have to say I'm a fan of precisely the right thing at a price I can actually afford.   

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Update:
Monday 10/21
Nope, not deja vu.  I'm joining Traveling Patti and all the gang at Visible Monday  with this little post that many of you have already seen.  Apologies go out to you for that, and I'll try to get back on track fast! IRL, I'm off to try to finish repairing the water heater.  Now where did I put that pipe wrench ...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Going On Quest and Wish List with Bullets



It's here. It's That Time of Year. There is almost a hard-wired, instinctual quality to my desire to go On Quest when fall arrives. It's elemental. I raise my snoot to the wind coming from the Big City, and sniff the air for the faint spoor of delivery trucks bringing Fall/Winter 2013 items into the shops. My pulse picks up and the blood rushes a little quicker in anticipation of the hunt.  Predatory stalking analogies for my enthusiasm are only a slight exaggeration.

On a more realistic level, this is more about another kind of human satisfaction, so perhaps it's better to say that I'm officially On Quest. I've gone from just thinking about and longing for fall and winter items, and now I'm actively looking for specific things to freshen up what I've drug from the back of my closet from last winter.  This is a favorite activity.

The Quest is deeply thematic in our Western culture and is pan-cultural in all its forms. It's been analyzed and defined, and tales of our heroes on quest are immediately recognizable to every child who has ever heard a fairy tale or read about Harry Potter. Some of the elements present in every good Quest tale are not limited to but include;
  • Tasks and processes that requires lots of effort from hero
  • Obstacles, forces, creatures or nemeses that try to prevent the Hero from her quest
  • Travel of some distance
  • Distracting and seductive, exotic or romantic elements
  • The search for a hidden or difficult to obtain object of extreme meaning, love, spiritual fulfillment, or magical power


Does that or does that not perfectly describe trying to find some particular new item for your fall wardrobe on a weekend trip to the stores, shops or Mall? It does from my perspective, but I'm up for it anyway.

Real life Quest Elements include;
  • Parking, or lack of it
  • Other people's screaming children (bless their dear little hearts...)
  • Fellow shoppers unconscious of others while in mobile phone conversations (especially those that I don't want to hear) 
  • Nonexistent or difficult sales staff 
  • Lack of selection and/or sizes
  • Finances are always a force to be reckoned with
  • Travel: everything I want is at least 40 miles away
  • Distracting or seductive elements: it's the magpie in me that causes me to gravitate to "that shiny object over there" instead of the task at hand. (The good thing about it is that I've obtained some of my most beloved clothes and accessories that way.)
  • Certainly, my wardrobe has meaning for me, if not exactly spiritual fulfillment. And I know for a fact that some clothes are simply magical.


I'm not a window shopper. I don't usually browse unless I'm looking for a particular item, and since I only have three or four total hours available per week for this sometimes problematic activity, I tend to get organized in planning the process and can exhibit a serious "singleness of purpose" when I'm about it.

Like all heroes, I'm armed with my special weapons or virtues. In this case, that's my seasonal Wish List. I began work on it a month or so ago, when I began reviewing last winter's wardrobe. Happily, after they've been a few months in storage, I can look at each item and make a quick decision whether to rejoice and welcome it back into rotation, cull it completely or put it on hold. It's the keeper items that send me On Quest. This year, I'm extra pleased to report that I'm good on a lot of basics due to paying closer attention to what I was doing last fall!

After review, I begin adding items to the list. Some of the items I'm looking for this fall are;
  • Chain necklaces in various metals 
  • A bright handbag or two to pair with neutrals ... and I'm looking for a lot of neutrals
  • Replacement Breton tees and crew neck pullovers and tights, perhaps textured stockings
  • Looser silhouette pants ( It's past time to figure out what Boyfriend Jeans actually are and how I might try to wear them ... sigh....)
  • Mid-heel pumps (yummmm ... )
  • Select colors in above the ankle booties (already have plenty of black, need cordovan or oxblood!)
  • That elusive Navy blazer I've wanted for two seasons now
  • An additional interesting A-Line or fuller skirt or two


Within the list are some general conceptual maxims and caveats;
  • Don't panic or get too caught up and buy a bunch of stuff ... do what you can and really shop your closet for silhouettes.
  • Simple outfits will take great accessories ... not many, but good ones.
  • Minimal thinking ... you haz it! All will be silhouette and textures.


But the really big caveat that I've repeated like a mantra is this:
Hold out for True Love. Don't buy it if it just appeals. All purchases must be True Love or nothing.


We'll see how I do with all that. Stay tuned.




At last we had a cool day where a jacket was needed! This is a recent bargain from DKNY. The top part is knit, with a wide, peplum-esque finish on the bottom. Dan loves this outfit ... he's a fan of Breton Stripes, deep wine colors and the fact that I was wearing ChloƩ.

These Bandolino pumps are a recent Wish List acquistion: oxblood or burgundy pumps.   (Check-mark!)


(Much closer than the color shown in my photo, and you can see a little of the tiny, reptile print of the shoe fabric. )


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It's  Visible Monday at  Bird of Paradise Patti's Not Dead Yet Style party!  Great women doing great things.  Check it out for lots of inspiration!