Friday, October 25, 2013

Coats and Nostalgia

Coat shopping isn't what it use to be.  Coats were once so plentiful, affordable, and beautifully made.  Even the most expensive coats today are only blends.  Where is the soft melton wool with the velvet hand?  Or the cat's tongue-scratchy tweed with just enough flecks of color to know what hue your hat will be?  Don't even get me started on linings.  Where are the satins that make getting into your coat as smooth as skating?  Didn't we actually buy some coats just because of their linings?  The chocolate brown balmacaan with the coral satin lining I bought with my first real paycheck use to look so pretty draped on the hall bench, coral showing and waiting to be put into service for me. I wore it over my chiffon blouses with bows and tailored wool skirts to my working girl job in the city.  At night, I tossed it over my soft Qiana disco dresses.  A glimpse of that lining and I could tell the coatcheck girl which of the 150 coats she was in charge of was mine, all mine.  And what about warmth?  For some reason the wool coats of yore seemed cozier.

Coat shopping was an event at our house.  Mom took us to Jordan Marsh or Filenes on fall Saturdays that always seemed to have newly crisp and clean air, a hint of what was to come.  We tried on eons of coats;  some plain, some fancy, some with large leather buttons or brass military ones.  If Mom got confused, there always seemed to be a nice attractive mature saleslady with glasses on a chain around her neck, pencil in her chignon and thick charge book nearby.  She helped our arms get in and out of all kinds of sleeves, buttoned us, and led us to the illuminated three way mirror.  We could get just one coat each so it had to have room to grow and be sturdy enough to last into the next year.  Salesladies understood that coat shopping was serious business too.

In first grade, Mom found our winter coats at a boutique in a quaint nearby village.  Fortunately, there were two as my sister and I always had to match. They were green tweed coats with plain rounded crew necks.  But that was ok because each had an attached scarf with fringe.  How much fun we had tossing those scarves over our shoulders.  The saleslady really enjoyed seeing how delighted Mom was to have found TWO identical coats in the same size with charming attached scarves.  They both cocked their heads, arms casually akimbo, and smiled as they watched my sister and I in the three-way posing and twirling, scarves flying. To extend Mom's pride (she still talks about those coats), my sister and I did them justice:  we wore the hats that my grandmother knit to go with them.

I've concluded that unless I want to spend over $1,000 or possible up to $2,000, I may not find my high quality, warm, detailed, lined 100% wool coat.  But ...there just has to be something, somewhere. Perhaps I WILL keep searching and peeking under hems for that great silky lining.  I'm not sure I'll find one with a whimsical attached scarf to toss though.  I would however, settle for a  helpful sales clerk.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Come October

October tugs at my heart more than any other month.  It calls to mind school days, plaid skirts, football games, sunshine and comfort foods.  Its atmospheric ways stir the soul and put extra meaning into everything.  Who can forget a cobalt blue sky, biting air, a cozy sweater...a first love that was, as October - fleeting and never meant to last?  Whispers of the past waft through every October like an oft-remembered childhood poem of hushed stanzas filled with dreams and memories.  Life is just more lived in October.

Now is the time make jams, savor the last of the garden blooms, or just read a book in the sweet sunshine.  Here is my October mood board to, well...get you in the mood.

October is made for honey (can't you hear the bees buzzing around that distant hive?).  Try a sweet honey soap or bath product.  Or pour a dollop of honey in a cup of decaffeinated tea after a long day at work.

Choose an amber scent that reminds you of the passing summer.  A warm fragrance with a woodsy base.  Email me for my personal recommendations.

Put away your cool silvers and choose a golden locket or cuff bracelet.  Capture summer sun on your wrist.

Retro Silhouette
Look for school girl tartans in mustards and lodens.  Match luggage toned shoes with handbags.

Sweater Days
Don that fisherman sweater or cashmere turtleneck.  Revel in the warmth on chilly nights.

Come October, create something lovely - a wreath or even a delicious meal.  Make amends, kiss someone, keep faith...recall a childhood poem from so long ago. 
(Fav fall films:  You've Got Mail, Practical Magic, Desk Set, Mona Lisa Smile, Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House, and oh so many more!) 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Birthdays, Slippers, and Serendipity

Yesterday was my birthday and although I cannot say why here, I cried all day.  The reason for the tears doesn't exist any longer but 24 hours ago, I didn't think that would be possible.  Today was a far better day.

I never work on my birthday so, like every year, my expectations for the day are always high.  I did see my family and a friend but my sorrow over an event that never ended up occurring, crowded out the joys of the day.  I did, however, cheerlessly open my gifts, one of which was a new pair of plush and pretty bedroom slippers. At the end of the day, I cleared away the tangle of ribbons and wraps and thoughtlessly put my new slippers on the closet floor, shut the door on them, and went to bed.

Today had a dreary start but I collected my mother and we went to a small favorite restaurant for lunch.  First we had to stop at a beauty apothecary to pick up an item I am to review for an upcoming writing gig.  When I arrived at the shop, there was a beautiful and generously put together gift bag for me with my name on it.  Colored tissue paper peeked out and it was tied with streamers in frosty pastels.  Somehow, it cheered me.  My mother and I had chicken salad sandwiches at the lunch place and imagined or not, our lovely young Russian waitress seemed to be particularly attentive to us, making eye contact with me, fetching extra lemon slices for my iced tea, and hovering close by.  Mom and I enjoyed our simple repast very much.

We made a stop at the stationers for greeting cards and it was there that I was complimented unexpectedly about, of all things, my skin.  Explaining that I had just had a birthday and an extended crying jag to go with it, the proprietress gifted me a pink etching pen "as a belated birthday present".  She presented it with a kiss on my cheek.

Our last stop was the craft store.  The young woman that rang up the sale of my forest green ink pad asked me what it was to be used for.  I told her I collect books and stamp them with a heart shaped trellis with my name in the center.  She told me her mother collects books by a female author she could not recall the name of.  Uncharacteristically, I heard myself advising her to find out the author's name and learn those special things about her mother now.  The young woman's eyes misted over as she told me that her mother is very ill.  We chatted quietly for a few more moments.  Then, when I was backing the car out of our parking space, I heard a tap at my window.  It was the young woman, "My mother collects Gladys Tabor.  I just remembered!", she said brightly.  I told her that if her mother read and collected Gladys Tabor, then she must be a very gentle person.  I told her about a Gladys Tabor fan club online site I once happened upon and she hurriedly wrote her email address on a scrap of paper so that I could send her the link. My mother and I smiled at her happy face and the sweet brief connection.

I'm home now and I have since written to the young lady.  I have also peered a few times into the mirror and although I see a face that turned a year older yesterday and had been wet with a plethora of tears, I liked what I saw.  It was during one of these self examinations that I remembered the slippers and rushed to rifle through the closet floor until I found the slim cardboard box.  I sat on the edge of my bed, tired but at last becalmed, and slid my feet into the soft slippers.  I heard myself sigh about birthdays and expectations, lovely inconsequences  and serendipitous everyday gifts that don't necessarily come in cardboard boxes.