Category Archives: Fashion
When I’m not puzzling about our political climate, pondering which mosquito-borne illness is most likely at a particular time of day (West Nile by night; Zika and dengue by day) or fretting about The Really Big One, I’m contemplating the flip side of everything for dear Reader. And as I peripatetically examine Vermont’s many splendours, I collect observations and nuggets of solid gold for your reading pleasure in our dark modern tymes.
Such as this gem during a holiday weekend, from a doctor I met lakeside: “My research is online. Google me.” I’ve never heard the verb Google with me as the object of the verb – brilliant! Let’s say it a lot. The world is a mess. We could use the laffs.
The Olympics upon us, I am unable to wax desperate about world affairs. The sweat of many nations* diverts us, joyfully. From the opening ceremony to the first “On your mark!” to the extinguishing of the torch, we are riveted by the athletes’ discipline, costumes, and youth.
Observation: when I started watching the Olympics (first televised in the US in 1960) in 1968, the athletes were all older then I. Now they’re all younger. Much. And very different from me. As the official slogan for the first Olympic and Paralympic Games in South America says: A New World. A new world I can no more fathom than I can navigate. The technology alone…there are many, many things now beyond our control. With everything from the car to the toaster computerized, we can’t fix anything that’s busted. Our children and grandchildren know more than we do, for the first time in the history of the world. We’re in a weird place because of it. I’m pretty sure that when we were kids, everything was our fault. We were in the way, we were noisy, we broke things, we cost a lot. Now, as adults, everything is our fault. We destroyed the planet etc. etc.
A term we non-Olympians hear only every 2 years is Degree of Difficulty. As my father would agree, the Degree of Difficulty in just plain living has greatly increased in our part of the world in recent years. We are assaulted by information and images of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, and exposed to waves and rays of all kinds. There is too much bad news televised, too many climatic disasters, too much violence and economic upheaval boggling our beans — and that’s not counting the disappearance of products we loved, the prevalence of fakely famous “celebrities,” and horrible fashion trends. No wonder we can’t sleep.
Can’t sleep? Hell, stay up till midnight every single night watching the O’s. It’s where the degree of difficulty is measurable and finite, unlike in the rest of life. It’s the only place you’ll hear caldron in a non-pagan setting, the term aquatic stadium, and podium as a verb, e.g., ”I plan to podium.”
When life’s degree of difficulty proves too much and you hit the wall, achieving the unfortunate state that psychologists call learned helplessness, just pack it in. Leave the dishes in the sink, the bills unpaid, kick up your feet, and turn on the tube. Gaze at the beautiful youth of earth’s many Lands with their crazy-good feats and grace and energy, with compelling close-ups of their unashamed thrills of victory and agonies of defeat.
And the sounds! The parallel bars. The diving board. The thwaks and panting. The excited sportscasting and cheering of the fans will rouse you. You’ll see people going absolutely nuts because they won the bronze. And with today’s high def TVs, you’ll feel like you’re cycling right along with them, swimming underneath them, vaulting through the air alongside them, or falling off the balance beam despite your finest efforts. It’s like when Bugs Bunny was chasing the mechanical rabbit lure at the dog track. You are right there with them. It’s virtual reality and it sure feels good. We have to take advantage of what slim benefits Modern Tymes offer, indeed.
Not into sport? Volunteer or hang out with the YP’s.** Despite the hideosity of the man bun, with its possibly samurai provenance, and their disinterest in anything awkward or random***, the YPs are lovely beings of light, so polite and “Howzitgoing?” and “Tell me what’s good!” and “You’re fine.” With them, bigotry and bias and dependence upon fossil fuels will vanish. Miraculous inventions and ways of thinking will solve climate change, restore the polar ice cap, correct water problems, feed the world, and repopulate vanishing species.
But for now, dear Reader, give up. Recline on the couch and win the bronze. Leave the future to the YPs. Google yourself silly. Everything will be okay. Good vaulting and good day.
DON’T TRY TO GET PEOPLE TO DO STUFF THEY DON’T WANT TO
It’s like throwing water on a grease fire.
SOMEONE YOU KNOW LOVES CHEESE
Show up with a wheel of cheddar.
CAKE BY THE OCEAN
Pretty baby, if they play that song one…more…time….
*Nod to Jon Hayman
***Nod to Adam Gopnik on “The Moth”
A cherished friend left our plane recently, taking his himness with him. His passing leaves a vast hole we look into and ponder. Am I living life as richly as he? Do I spread joy like that? With whom will I now discuss the peculiar appeal of sherry? Prince was not the friend, but he’s also left a giant void.
Fact is, in your 20s and 30s you’re pretty much the same. In your 40s you begin changing. In your 50s: boom. You’re different, inside and out. I told a friend, “Suddenly we’re older than the parents of school children.” His response: “Way older.”
Earth too is rapidly changing, her creatures with it. The YPs (young people) — my lord — they’re self-assured, clever, upbeat. And TALL. Especially the girls. Like herds of longhaired gazelles. Their male panther counterparts greet each other with, “Hey bro, what’s good?” or, “Tell me what’s good.” One parent says that because the world is so screwy, they specifically request good news. I like it. I like them.
As Kanye designs ugly velour tracksuits and Teletubby-like outfits and Taylor Swift’s haircut eclipses real news, I feel like an old dino. But as a Baby Boomer, I am not outnumbered. I enjoy baffling the YPs by singing, “I’m so glad we had this time together,” or the theme to Gigantor. The YPs are like, “Huh?” – a “word” my generation considers gauche, much as our parents did the word “like” as used here.
Try dropping pearls such as “the old switcheroo”; “Oh, Miss Crabtree”; “Your muffler: fix it!”; or “The agony of defeat.” These and the hook used in Vaudeville are lost on the YPs, akin to our parents’ referencing Your Show of Shows. We can’t memorize phone numbers and we know little about social media, gaming, graphics, or the actors with three names, but we remember like yesterday how every time Rob Petrie opened a closet, a snowshoe fell out.
It’s a lot of work to avoid becoming hopelessly out of touch. My chiro’s daughter said recently, “Mom, instead, could you wear, like, leggings and boots?” So twice a week she does. When did pants become foolish? Our mothers didn’t want us to wear pants in public; now our kids don’t. Hell, we fought to wear pants. I’m wearing them. Corduroys, painters pants, cigarette pants … bring it awn. Let’s bring back knickers. Bloomers.
Alas, we’ll have to keep up or give up – in planned communities, retirement villages, or facilities designed for people who can’t climb stairs. Considering this is depressing. But mostly we don’t think about it. Like old jalopies, my People have seen a lot of road and have hit some motherless potholes. So we’re kind to each other. We still see each other as we were: vibrant, sexy, hilarious, relevant. Who cares how the rest of America sees us? Our People’s opinions are what matters, right?
And we’re losing our People. With them goes our inside jokes, our shared memories, who we are. So with the (still many) friends yet here, we toddle off into the future. We’ll floss our receding gums to Physical Graffiti and snort about wattles, jowls, Portosan® waiting line etiquette, air raid drills, Mystery Date, fake ID’s, and Match Game ’76 as we MacGyver our walkers. We’ll know we’ve become pathetic, but we’ll have the sun and the moon and each other. We won’t have to be 5’11”, we’ll be the right height to see each other without hurting our necks. We won’t need mirrors, we’ll have our People’s chortling visages to reflect our own. We won’t even need our minds any more; we have what a friend calls his “external brain”: the smart phone. Or whatever that device evolves into by then. Some sort of implant.
The world seems worsening with miseries, often monetary. Following, dear Reader, are causes for hope: 1. As financial experts report, the market is turbulent during presidential races; after the election, regardless of who wins, the market soars. 2. My hunch is that once the economic inequity that has plagued Earth for so long balances out some, ISIS et alia will wither from lack of interest. 3. As the races and creeds intermingle throughout the Lands, there is ever less fear of Other. The earth becomes more diverse locally, breeding a new level of understanding (the Age of Aquarius, YPs!). When we work or play with someone unlike us, we see them as a person, not a type. This, of course, if there’s any land left after the glaciers melt.
And so, in what time you have left, what do you most want to do? Of your many possible contributions, what is your best choice? What gets your groove on? What will matter in the end? Do that. If you’d like to discuss it over a glass of sherry, ring me up. I’d like that. Good day.
Departed friend, we’ll miss so your wit and empathy, wisdom and cheer. Safe travels.
firstname.lastname@example.org ann.aikens.7 on Facebook. Twitter handle: at @uvgvt.
My sister-in-law, a former costume designer for film and TV, is the craziest mad genius, what with the portraits she does of people’s homes using their own memorabilia, and how her talents are put to use at the Russian school and dance recitals. All the children of the Lands should be so lucky as to have a Natalya in the wings.
See more Russian kids’ costumes here, including those made by other parents, most if not all designed by my beloved золовка. Love the Sun and Moon executed by Marina Bagrova! Don’t miss Natalya’s stunning sketches of the costumes as they appeared in her noggin, before their worldly realization, at the end of this version. Quick, before that page changes!
When parents get involved in their children’s projects, a great inequity is born. I remember my friends’ middle school-aged kids’ projects for Science Fairs. They looked, by God, these trifold standup posters explaining the experiment, as if they’d been published by Random House. The other kids’ looked like, well, coloring books. Except for the ones made by their parents.
Girl Scouting was no different. In the 70s you had the laissez-faire parents like mine, God love ‘em, then you had the competitive superparents. They were troop leaders, usually, and their daughters had 200 merit badges on their sashes. My mom was a troop leader, but not the superparenting kind; more the “Look it up” kind. We had to earn our own merit badges, meaning do the work ourselves. Imagine that! We had to actually read the instructions and carry them out. If you didn’t understand something, in your Girl Scout Handbook or math book, a parent would bark, “Look it up!” without glancing up from the stovetop, martini, or newspaper. None of this coddly, “Let’s get going on it, honey … together!” None of this everything-at-your-fingertips Internet business, no sir, not for us.
What if we had to walk around today with sashes pictographically representing our accomplishments? Rich concept, that. Some people would have lots and lots of badges, some would have a few, and some would turn their nose at the “charade” even if they’d accomplished much. The highly competitive would have extra-long sashes trailing behind them like a royal brides’s train, or folded over repeatedly back and forth like ribbon candy, loaded down with those little embroidered circles of merit (crafted by … the children of the fine sweat shops of Indonesia?) The rest of us could fit our sash under a slender coat.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved earning those badges and sewing them by hand (myself! With the skills acquired in Brownies!) to my sash. I feel for the poor troop leader who ordered them, probably with 27-character alphanumeric codes they had to enter on a form and mail in (CANOE999 … FIRSTAID2704 … ETIQUETTE5328 — wait, did the Boys Scouts have Etiquette??? Certainly not HOUSEKEEPING like the early Girl Scout badge).
I could see this being of societal benefit in modern tymes. Like last spring when the months-old layer of snow melted and there was dog do all over town. It was a minefield out there. Maybe if there had been merit badges involved, people would have been more diligent about poopingscooping (gotta be a great German word for that). This got me — and the crazed nutters I call friends — thinking of incentive-based or generally perverse applications of such badges.
Proposed Merit Badges for Adults in Modern Tymes:
Recycling. Putting The Seat Down. Turning In Lost Objects. Moderation in Facebook Posting. Echolocation. Hoarding. Closet Organizing. Image Consulting. Photo Bombing. Comparative Shopping. Lawn Care. Adult Hygiene. Cell Phone Videography. Social Climbing. Commuting. Unfriending. Rabble Rousing. Lamprophony (look it up). Little Sister of the Moon (Stevie Nicks-esque Wicca skills). Little Brother Annoying. Patent Leather Appreciation. Cyber Stalking. Fast Texting. 50 Shading. Hermitude. Internet Bullying. Cellphone Minute Conservation. Hair Extension Weaving. Sleepover Safety. Bad Boy Dating. Texting Shorthand (u 2 want 1). Throning.
A friend asks, “What about a merit badge called Olive Loaf for those of us in the “sandwich” stage, caring for both children and aging parents?” Another writes: “OMG. I’m going to get a good picture of my sash. I GLUED the SEWING badge on the sash. I think I fibbed to ACHIEVE this number of badges … all glued on for speedy sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT and ACHIEVEMENT.
Others suggested: “How about the Aria Stark badge for when you kill an adversary?” Or “The Donald Trump badge for the girl who sells the most cookies? The theme would be twisted of course to emphasize greed rather than ‘do-gooding’ for a cause. The recipient would be all about the prize she wins.”
Feel free to create your own. Achieve! Good day.
Google Autofill of the Month:
When WHY DOES YOUR BLADDER is entered, Google autofills with:
have to be full for a sonogram
ann.aikens.7 on Facebook. Twitter handle: @uvgvt.
My contemporaries and I found Mr. Rogers hokey. Whether it was the sweater or our age or a distaste for puppetry, we didn’t watch. In college, we bandied about the word “special” with great sarcasm, the invoking of “specialness” ensuring snickers. Yet when the anniversary of Mr. Rogers’ testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications
occurred on May 1 and its video made the rounds, his words regarding just that – specialness – had a profound effect upon me that has lasted all month.
Here was a guy who was just, essentially, good. Not only inherently good, he did good. You can be good without doing any particular good, but he was and did — without flash or cloying sentimentality or maudlin pity for those less fortunate. He really felt, I think, that all men are created equal. He talked and walked it without raising his voice.
He recounted, in the 1969 hearing, how when the money ran out, viewers of (then young) PBS from all over said, “We’ve got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care.” He addressed the no-nonsense Senator John Pastore from Rhode Island (formerly the Governor of Rhode Island and the first Italian American elected governor or Senator), urging that non-violent children’s programming was critically important. That “it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger … much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire.”
Fred Rogers humbly explained to the gruff toughie senator (whose mother had supported 5 children as a seamstress when his father died and who was unfamiliar with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood): “This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, ‘You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.’” As I watched this gentle man telling a senator over 40 years ago something so simple, arguing for funding to continue spreading his message, I realized what I’d been missing all along in my youthful superiority complex.
In a world consumed by the accumulation of wealth and fine objects, there is a lot to be said just for just being a decent guy. I don’t know if they still give it out, but years ago my friend’s young son in Randolph received an award at school for being a good person. I bawled at the news, overcome that this quality was considered worth honoring, and proud of the boy. I don’t think Mr. Rogers likely made a lot of money. If he did, he didn’t spend it on his clothes; he probably gave a lot of it away. He probably didn’t live in a fancy house or drive a fancy car; most Presbyterian ministers don’t.
Who is more influential, ultimately: a gorgeous actor or accomplished businessperson or a hot heiress or a leathers-rocking NASCAR stud…or an unassuming man who let millions of children know – back when people didn’t say such things to children very often – that it’s okay to feel lonely or angry or scared; it’s what you do with it that matters? And more importantly, that they mattered. Who’s contributing more to planet earth? I guess it depends on who’s judging. My money’s on Rogers.
For me, it’s become, increasingly, quite enough for people to be and do good. We don’t need a sports car or a big title or awards of any kind. I’m happy competing with my friend to see who can immerse self in the river the latest in October. I’m not disparaging those who achieve great things. I’ve known persons who’ve won an Oscar and the French Open and I’ve held Hannah Kearney’s gold medal in my hand; I’m awed by all three. But I’m equally in awe of helpers. Inner city teachers. Nurses. People with disabled children who fight for them and do their best to give them lives with meaning. And people who are good at anything at all. Making a grilled cheese sandwich. Cultivating a flower garden. Fishing. And nutters who amass Certificates … for, like, Evelyn Wood’s Speed Reading. Rock on.
Neighbor, please take today to think about your value. The way you make strangers snort at the grocery store. The trash you collected on Green Up Day. The pet you chose from a shelter. The estranged friend you wrote even when it was awkward because so much time had gone by, but you knew he was in a hard situation. I’m not sure what I’ve done with my life. I do endeavor, in general, to make people feel good. And to remind them, while their difficulty, or their friend’s, may have little or no upside, how Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
I think you’re special. There’s no person in the whole world like you and I like you, just the way you are. Good day.
What, pray tell, is flügen? Go here.
Learn it. Love it. Live it.
Crafting deep into the night, with needle nose and epoxy and colored threads…all so we can give someone a nice gift. I sleep easy at night picturing them at work, like the Brownies that helped the cobbler.
Cut Out Copy I happened upon at a festival. Along with magical collage art, she makes wicked cool jewelry like rings from antique typewriter keys. Dear to a writer’s heart! Also, pendants in bottle caps: sooper aws. Barbee’s got a great vibe and that’s where I want my $ going; it’s flügen.
Then you’ve got April’s Maple. April, in the Northeast Kingdom, is also the bomb. The Maple bomb. Look at these little crunchins you can put on your cereal or whatever. I spoon them directly into my mouth. Wash ’em down with maple cotton candy.
The 3 Sisters made my favorite necklace of all time forever. They don’t make these any more (Cut Out Copy makes similar) but they do retro license plate and hotel key art.
The last but not least, a beloved friend, stitches a portrait of your home out of materials you supply. Brilliant!
Keep awn craftin’, crafters. As the drummer mouths during the 60s flashback in This Is Spinal Tap, “We. Love. You.”
You can absolutely say, “I love you,” too much. You can also hear it too much. When you’re, like, standing on line with a super gooey couple. Or someone is talking to their dog or horse in what may or may not be a reciprocal relationship and for whatever reason you can’t get away.
These stackable rings, which are not inherently a terrible idea, “arrive” in a “custom presentation case” with a “Certificate of Authenticity.” From the Department of Goo!
Who writes this stuff? Oh: The “Bradford Exchange.”