Finding the happy medium between Matron and Floozy

IMG_2272I live in a little big town and don’t have occasions for cocktail dresses but this summer I found myself in need of a cocktail dress. Now before you feel sorry for me, thinking I don’t possess a single cocktail dress let me assure you have a several. I just didn’t like the way I looked in them

Who the Hell knew shopping for a cocktail dress would be so painful? I had a very strict budget of less than $150 and it had to work with shoes I already have. But that wasn’t the cluster fuck:  Finding dresses that didn’t make me look like a Mother of the Bride or worse a pathetic old thing trying to recapture her lost youth were the bigger hurdles.

I’m not one to shop with a posse of women nor would I ever in a MILLION years subject a male partner to shopping for something so specific. Nope, I go out on my own and just get it done. But isn’t technology grand? My best friend was away and so I sent her pictures of the dresses that didn’t make me want to cry for my lost youth or puke. After dress number five she let me know she was sitting in a hotel bar with a couple of men and they were also offering opinions. Fantastic, dressing room selfies shared with strangers. Good thing I didn’t get ridiculous and naughty, huh?  I was horrified at first but these guys proved to be very helpful. It was good to have a man’s opinion. Especially a man’s opinion that wasn’t something in the range of: “Oh honey you always look good so just find something you like. . .” Because that’s what my loyal and very astute boyfriend would tell me.

My selections in the dressing room that night ranged from sequins which wore me and screamed “Here’s the Mother of the Groom and she is pissed at her new daughter-in-law” Scuba knit dresses which cling to me in all the right places and show off my work at the gym but I was worried the air of desperation these dresses take on would clash with my lipstick. I found some nice lace dresses but they were more for the polite cocktail party at the country club rather than a debauched evening in New Orleans. The dresses I selected that were vaguely age appropriate–if you squinted real hard–from the junior’s department made me look trashy and pathetic. Most “fit and flair” dresses make me look like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Not a good look on anyone. I was about to give up when I tried on a lovely empire lace bodice and black a-line dress. Very simple, no flashy bling or daring decollete. I loved it and had a little happy dance in the dressing room before I sent it to my friend and our new best friends at the bar in Memphis. They loved it, too! Woohoo! Mission accomplished.  I could send back the other FOUR dresses I had purchased online and go home with this one.

When did buying cocktail dresses or any dress for that matter become so hard. I hate the loud prints in cheesy polyester. Whatever happened to a simple silk sheath in a subtle print that doesn’t look like the inside of an acid fueled Hunter S. Thompson dream?

And I’m not necessarily super preppy and Lands End wear makes me look like an aging gym teacher. Nor do the flowing Eileen Fisher type things suit me. Plus I don’t spend 195 bucks on blouses. And big nope to the hippy gauze skirts with earrings touch my shoulders. Not a baby boomer and not a hippy.

Good thing I work from home because I can wear my usual skinny jeans and tee shirts or my shorts and tee shirts. Or nothing. (I’m gonna let y’all guess if I really work naked…) Good thing my life is casual and jeans with a nice tee shirt or cotton blouse works just about everywhere I go…except events in New Orleans.

I think I better start the process all over again for the cruise next spring. I have seven months to start buying and exchanging dresses. That should be enough time and I’ll be whipped in a frenzy of indecision well before I have to pack a bag and just take everything like I did this summer.

Any ideas for making this process of dressing to bridge the gap between matronly and trashy would be appreciated.

 

Posted in Just me | 12 Comments

Popping the cherry

IMG_2510I took my boyfriend to IKEA.  It’s not like he has always lived in the middle of the middle of nowhere so I was a little surprised he had never basked in the wonders and glories of the big yellow store. I’m a relatively seasoned IKEA shopper:  Two bathrooms, a large closet, and a kid’s room qualify me for some sort of design merit badge. (I had people put all that stuff together for me)  I warned him it is a maze and a gauntlet. The first Ikea trip is like losing your virginity. It’s either great or terrible.

I also thought he would half enjoy it because he isn’t completely anti-shopping. He likes thrift stores, big piles of crap at auctions, and doesn’t balk over antique stores. But by the time we were halfway through the textile department and just getting ready to go into the marketplace, I noticed his eyes were glazing over with that sad “I am so done” look people who aren’t hardcore shoppers are prone. Poor man I knew I had to get us out of there but what I really and truly wanted to look at  were the dishes and pots and pans and the kitchen gadgets in the marketplace. I had to act fast. I had to bargain. I had to promise:

“Give me 10 minutes that’s all I need, I know exactly what I’m looking for.”

He agreed with a hard look telegraphing it better not be 10:30 or he was going to claw his way to the parking lot.

Because I’m that girlfriend, I was finished in less than ten minutes. But I couldn’t find him. I expected to see him standing in the middle of the aisle, a little tappy-footed but instead I found him tucked away and carefully considering kitchen gadgets. Not looking at them with in a “what the fuck” way but wondering if he had such a use for this thing or that thing.   I think he was a little mesmerized by all that stuff in that gigantic blue and gold building.

I rushed to his side like he was a lost toddler: “I’m ready to go. Thanks for being such a good sport and when I come back this fall, I’ll come on my own. Promise.”

“Yeah that’s probably a good idea. Probably not a good idea for us to build furniture together either. But hang on, I want to look at the stuff.”

Ha! Whatever.

“Of course! take  your time…”

He’s gonna regret ever saying that because resistance is now futile and before you know it he will be holding my purse outside a dressing room while I try on fifteen dresses.

Well maybe not…I love him too much to put him through that.

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Much needed Siri Upgrade

IMG_2803This past week I killed my iPhone with a faulty car charger. Or my elderly electronic systems killed the charger which killed the phone. Whatever. The phone died and I had to spend a couple of hours at the Handheld Device store because even if you know what you want it’s a saga to get it.

I was hoping to cobble along with my old iPhone until the 7 came out. But there were other plans for me. I was also hoping for some upgrades besides stupidly long and delicately thin. One of the upgrades I was hoping for:

“Siri please [I say please to my phone, mock me go ahead everyone else does] give me directions to 125532 Weld County Rd 98.”

I want Siri to give me directions like some old guy you run into at an old store in the middle of nowhere:

“So little lady, lemme tell you the best way to get there. Go down fourteen til you see the crossroads. Not the first crossroad but the second where the big clump of sunflowers sits in the ditch. You turn down that road and go a mile or so. Maybe more. You might see some cows in the road but pay them no nevermind just go slow. An’ if they don’t get outa th’ way roll yer winda down and bang onna side your car. Them’s the Taggett’s and those cows are always bustin through the fence. Course that’s cuz them Taggett’s lazy cusses an’ don’t build proper fences…where was I? oh yeah then you wanna turn right at the cattle guard and the tree. Go down this road til you see an old woman sitting on her porch. Now this old gal, will try to wave you over but for criminy sake, don’t do it. No no no little lady, she will try to sell you on Jesus and the aliens coming to get you…Once upon a time she weren’t so crazy but after her gandson gave her that meth accidently she done gone off…So after you pass her you’re gonna see a stop sign. Now why the hell the county put a stop sign at these roads is beyond me ‘cept maybe it’s the damned oil field traffic them kids racin’ around here like NASCAR kings or somethin’…so pay no never mind to the stop sign you can see for miles all direction and then turn left and go another seven miles until you see the tree. . .”

Much more interesting than: “in 2.5 miles turn right. . .”

Just a thought. Maybe Siri’s voice could change to fit the dialect and speech patterns of the region she is navigating? Think about it. You know you want this on  your next smart phone.

Posted in Just me | 6 Comments

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” AA Milne

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“It’s Bea, she’s real sick”

I heard a shake in his voice, an air of concern I had never heard before as I was driving north on I-25 about ten miles from my exit. I was stunned and as I asked for details I felt myself stepping harder on the gas as I wove in and out of the traffic.

“I went out to feed Bea and I found her under the load out chute. She didn’t look good. She managed to come to me when I called her so I gave her some water and coaxed her to the truck. I’m on the way to the vet now. It doesn’t look good. You might be saying good-bye to her tonight.”

I wanted to argue with him the impossibility of this situation: She had surgery a month before, the tumors were gone and he said she would probably live another two or three years. Sure she was getting on in years and moving slower just over the year I’ve known her. Bea needed a little guiding hand to jump onto the flatbed of the truck. She got distracted when Dr. Doctor called her in from the prairie a week or so before and a coyote raised up from the grass, tried to nip her as she became oblivious to her surroundings. That’s not dying, that’s just getting old. How could he think she was dying?

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I drove as fast as I dared on the two-lane highway to the little town closest to the ranch. Isn’t it fortunate Dr. Doctor has a friendly relationship with the small town vet who was more than willing to get up from his evening television at dusk and tend to the old guard dog.

When I arrived Bea was on the floor, her eyes didn’t looked scared or worried because she so trusted the big man in the cowboy hat. The man who took her in ten years ago after the Dairyman’s wife demanded he get rid of Beatrice because she didn’t like the dog. Dr. Doctor gave Bea her name and her gentle life. Of course she knew whatever happened next it would be the good and right thing. Her master had never failed her.

“You really think she’s dying? She looks sick but not that bad.”

He explained her blood counts were dangerously low and she was bleeding from somewhere internally. Another tumor perhaps? They would give her fluids and see if that helped or it could cause the bleeding to start again.   He didn’t want to put her down because he wasn’t sure if the cause could be found and fixed.

I lay down on the concrete floor with her. It was cool and quiet in the rustic vet clinic. Dr. Larry and Bea’s master talked in hushed tones nearby, I heard them say something about fluids and watching her overnight.

IMG_2427“So this might be good-bye Beatrice. Thank you for welcoming me to your home and heart. I’m going to miss your quiet enthusiasm when I get out of the Jeep. I’ll never forget how you just walked up to me that first day, you gave me a wag and showed me the way. This isn’t what I wanted for you. I wanted you to just not come home one evening and we would go out and look for you, finding you by the windmill like you had just decided it was time for a rest. I guess Harley’s gonna have to be the guard donkey…yeah I know…lotta good that will do…Who’s gonna be the warrior princess dog if you aren’t there? Who’s gonna keep me safe in the perimeter when I take walks?” I buried my head in her neck and she smelled like Beatrice: sunshine, wind, and grass. She smelled nothing of death. “The ranch just won’t be the same without you.”

And it’s not. I do love being there as much as ever but there is an absence and a stillness. If that’s even possible in the empty open-space of the grasslands. That night when we got home from the vet I stopped by the dog house, Juliet and Romeo the barn cats where lurking around her house. It almost dark and there weren’t bits of kibble left for them in the dog’s bowl. Romeo put one spat patterned paw up into the house to peer around the corner looking for his friend. Upset there weren’t left overs. I wonder if they still look for her or remember their big yellow friend?

It was always amusing to find Bea and the cats hanging about together. They always had this conspiratorial air about them when I would come up on them: like teenagers telling secrets and stopping all the sudden when Mom walks in the room.

Just a week before, I had gone out to woo and flirt with Harley where he was pastured. He was completely content to eat weeds, removed from cattle, horses, and people. Harley was in full-fledged Diva mode and ignoring my offers to give him peppermints and combing so I gave up and made my way out of the pens so I could jump over the fence and foreg messing up the chains. I didn’t want to be responsible for a donkey, three horses, and a pair making their way down highway 14 towards Sterling.

I was about to mount the fence when I looked down and there was Bea, sitting under the load out chute, huge grin on her face as she munched on something. Most likely a cow’s placenta she had buried a few months before. Delicious if you’re a dog. She stopped chewing and looked me in the eye, mouth pulled back a bit to let me know whatever she was eating was yummiest thing she had ever eaten. What a great dog’s life she had.

And that’s what Dr. Doctor said to me the next morning as we drove towards Denver while letting the news of her death over night sink in.

“She really knew how to be a dog.”

And she did. Her joy of eating a dried up cow placenta a few weeks before was evidence of that, her daily impatience to be let off her lead so she could get to the business of flushing out the coyotes and antelope further proof of her perfect life.

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“And she really only had one bad day. Maybe two if you count the day she had surgery.”

What more could you give a creature or human you love?   She must have been a remarkable human in her past life to earn a bucolic and simple existence. Heaven for Bea must look much like her life on Earth did. Only she is a much better hunter and always catches the rabbits and no one admonishes her for chasing cows.

As summer moves to fall the grasslands are dune colored just like her coat was. I wouldn’t be surprised this autumn if I didn’t catch a glimpse of the sweet old girl who smelled like sunshine, grass, and wind.

“It was if they were suffering the sudden absence of something as elemental and essential as the air itself.” Kent Haruf

 

Posted in Dogs, summer, Wild things | 12 Comments

What I did on my summer vacation

I haven’t been writing for two months but it feels like a longer time than that. I think because life has been a blissful cacphony of happy,sad,hard,easy, delightful, and annoying.

I spent a lot of time taking pictures these last two months. Here’s a few of them:

We can't agree if these are sunflowers or black-eyed susans. I think they are the latter. He disagrees. But whatever their name they were abundant this summer. Looking at this picture I’m stunned how green the prairie was in mid July.

We can’t agree if these are sunflowers or black-eyed susans. I think they are the latter. He disagrees. But whatever their name they were abundant this summer. Looking at this picture I’m stunned how green the prairie was in mid July.

We took a couple of trips together and in quick succession. Our first trip was to Palm Springs. We spent a few days floating in a pool. Before I became a slug at our hotel we had lunch on Palm Canyon. Here I am with Marilyn. He has a special filter that makes me look thirty years younger. Gotta love that in a guy. I love Palm Springs and I can't wait to go back next year.

We took a couple of trips together and in quick succession. Our first trip was to Palm Springs. We spent a few days floating in a pool. Before I became a slug at our hotel we had lunch on Palm Canyon. Here I am with Marilyn. He has a special filter that makes me look thirty years younger. Gotta love that in a guy. I love Palm Springs and I can’t wait to go back next year.

 

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This Hipstagram snap pretties up Bourbon Street. To say I was underwhelmed by New Orleans is an understatement. Most of the French Quarter felt as tatty as Blanche Dubois. Bourbon Street smelled like the worst parts of New Delhi. I kept watching for cows wandering around. I was supposed to write articles about my few days in New Orleans but somehow I don’t think the publication would appreciate “Like Old Delhi but with more vomit and piss on the sidewalk”

We spent a few days with friends in New Orleans. Neither of us had ever been there. It was an exhausting four days. The heat, coupled with a sudden tragedy at home tampered with my sunny approach to travel even if the place is less than ideal. That new boyfriend of mine is so deeply patient. This picture reflects the depth of his patience with me. The sign on the building: "you are beautiful" His timing was intentional. He watched the shoreline of the Mississippi river for just the right moment. I was deeply moved by the gesture. (still am)

We spent time with friends in New Orleans and it was an exhausting four days. The heat, coupled with a sudden tragedy at home tampered with my sunny approach to travel even if the place is less than ideal. That new boyfriend of mine is so deeply patient. This picture reflects the depth of his patience with me. The sign on the building: “you are beautiful” His timing was intentional. He watched the shoreline of the Mississippi river for just the right moment. I was deeply moved by the gesture. (still am)

late summer’s golden light. It’s a bittersweet time of the year for me: I love summer and want to hold her to me twelve months of the year but the light on the plains in August as the grass goes tawny is magnificent.

late summer’s golden light. It’s a bittersweet time of the year for me: I love summer and want to hold her to me twelve months of the year but the light on the plains in August as the grass goes tawny is magnificent.

Posted in life away from the yellow house, summer | 15 Comments

#Throwbackthursday Oh the silly choices we make!

Now who wouldn't want to be this gal's bff! Such style and demure grace

Now who wouldn’t want to be this gal’s bff! Such style and demure grace

I’m taking a long weekend to write but here’s an example of how I’ve made many poor choices.

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#Throwbackthursday Prairie Dogs and Karma

IMG_9895I’m sure I’ll offend someone with this post. This is about that time I demanded the prairie dogs who have overtaken the property at the yellow house be removed one way or another.

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