Sunday, January 28, 2018

Postcard from a Phoenix Motel

A real ceramic coffee cup brought from home makes motels feel more like home and the generic coffee taste better, and on this five-day trip I brought The Cup That Never Healed, a green Syracuse China coffee cup stamped 19-D, signifying manufacture in the fourth quarter of 1990, one of a six-cup motley crew hand-harvested from the factory-store seconds bin. These six were the originals in my restaurant-china-coffee-cup array, a secret source of comfort and pleasure (I have a cup for every mood) to me and nobody else.

This had been "the playful cup." (The others were "the intellectual cup," an unusual one broken when the kitchen table collapsed from metal fatigue, and I never cease looking for a replica; the "cup d'honneur" used for guests because it was the only one with a matching saucer; the pink-striped "feminine cup," and so on, insanely, or poetically.) After an accident cracked this cup from its foot all the way up alongside the handle, filling it with hot liquids put the drinker at risk so I shelved it up high, hoping it would use its vacation time to heal. Because travel puts any ceramic cup at risk, I packed this one for what has to be its last hurrah, conceding that if it hasn't healed itself by now it isn't going to. I planned to list here reasons why I kept this cup and kept my hope, but a sentimental attachment is made up of reasons that sound goofy to anyone else.

We have lived together long, this cup and I, and I can let it go only because I found on eBay one quite similar, although not a replica. Greetings from Phoenix. Get me outta here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Bling is Life, and Life is Bling

When you're alone a lot you get fixated, but it's very interesting, the folds of a fixation. These are my favorite earrings, natural brown pearls that blush red (rare), and their color and proportions go well with any type of clothing, and I like the white-gold bead caps and white-gold shepherd's hooks. The rich difference between white gold (gold plus palladium) and sterling silver became obvious after I traveled with a woman whose peacock pearls on white-gold hooks had a distinctive glint of quality that said so much about her classiness, her priorities, her affection for and care of herself. It's in the details. So when I could, I got my own pair and was delighted -- one of those purchases you later realize was a grant from the shopping gods (like the black silk skirt I wore for seven years and no matter what size I was it fit me) and gives terrific joy.

Then I lost them. At the mammogram center we women must cozy up, shoulder, neck and ear, to the squash machine and even my dangling pearls got in the way so I took care to remove them and put them in a small ziploc bag and stowed them deep inside my summer purse, or thought I did. Days later at home I looked in vain for my pearl earrings. I phoned the mammogram center which called back in the middle of an important meeting but for the first time in life I took the cellphone call (because a return call from a medical center is rare) and asked if they'd found a pair of brown pearl earrings with white-gold shepherd hooks, and they had not. And I thought, of course. Finders keepers with anything that classic and wearable.

The purse's patent-leather trim was cracking and shabby so after the last of many obsessive searches through the purse I tossed it and had since wondered if the pearl earrings were somehow in it and I just hadn't smoked them out. In that case they were gone forever.

I ordered another pair from the same company in Thailand and received two black pearls without any gloss or glow, like old bowling balls or shoe soles -- but kept them for their white gold hooks, hoping someday I'd find pearls like the first ones to hang on them. Then I ordered coffee-brown Swarovski (glass) pearl earrings on silver hooks, and they are nice but without that caress of red that made all the difference to my coloring, as if the lord of chic had selected them for me. And slowly, with many pangs, I gave up my fixation. They were lost.

I use as my two "jewelry boxes" those plastic shells that salads come in; one is for gold-tone metals and the other silver-toned. (Every normal woman over 50 will have amassed a cool-earring collection.) The other day I dumped out the container of gold-tone metal earrings and saw the little bag with my prodigal pearl earrings in it. In haste I'd mis-filed the gold under silver, and it hadn't occurred to me to look there.

Very pleased to have them back. I deserve this fine good luck, especially in the dead of winter when it feels sometimes as if one's earrings are close and fond companions.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hit You Like a Deer

Januaries test our tolerance and endurance. Mine and others'. One day while driving on Doc Sargent Road I saw a woman taking a vigorous walk along the (shoulder-less) road as I have done for 16 years, and my first reaction on seeing her was not "go girl" but irritation at having to be careful driving past -- kind of like you feel when a bicyclist is pedaling uphill on a two-lane road and the cars that accumulate behind him must crawl after him. I wondered, is that what drivers feel when they see me out walking?

I recall some years ago seeing a lone woman taking an exercise walk along Highway O. (Athletic shoes gave away her purpose.) She was well bundled up, but I realized with horror that out in the open without any woods to back her she looked like a target. A target. Maybe it's not true, but some years ago a driver deliberately hit a female walker, then dragged her into the woods, raped her, and left her for dead. He returned some hours later and she's still alive so he kills her. Stephen King survived being hit by a drunk as he walked along a rural road in Maine.

Reasons I shouldn't walk on roadsides anymore: denser population and therefore more cars; I'm older and maybe a little slower and more of an annoyance and really really don't want to risk being hit; I don't want to look like a target; people text while driving even if they shouldn't; people take more medication legal and not; they're less patient; and there are alternatives.

So I became devious, and one day followed a new path on property that was none of my business but I figured no one would see me, to a section of LaBarque Creek new to me. The cliffs pictured are about 20 feet high. I'd have liked to get closer to dramatize their scale, but couldn't risk the icy rocks. Maybe I'll try again when the temperature's above the single digits and I have boots and poles. Meanwhile I walk in circles and back and forth on my own property, or get in the car and drive a mile down to public space.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Women's Wear Nightly

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. - The un-insulated bedroom, a 1969 addition to the Divine Cabin, presents a heating challenge typically addressed by a heated mattress pad, flannel sheets, a space heater and inch-thick insulation taped over the single-pane windows, but on harsher nights those are not enough, and one must, in addition, consider one's jammies.

Besides being sleepwear, jammies are often worn all morning, or down to the mailbox, topped with a parka. Stone-washed in well water at least weekly, by April the pair that was new in autumn is rags, or only one-half of the jammie set survives, as with the blue-striped Lanz pajama bottoms pictured here smartly teamed with a coral-colored long-sleeved Calida henley top for up-to-the-minute bedtime fashion flair, both in pure cotton.

Lanz of Salzburg and Calida of Switzerland sell quality Euro-jammies and undies able to survive this lifestyle for several winters. The Lanz jammie pants are four winters old, the coral Calida top, five. One multi-colored striped Calida nightie has shared the wearer's bed for three winters and she looks forward to more. After its annual laundering it smells divine! From the label Joe Boxer, sold at Sears and K-Mart and sewn in Bangladesh, this season's statement jammies feature stylized melon- and cherry-colored hearts, and the buttons on the top are hot pink glitter, and one can only imagine the thoughts of the workers in the sweatshop in Bangladesh.

Observers have responded to the heart-print jammies thus: 1) "That looks like a clown suit" and 2) "Hearts all over, soooo cute!" What people think and say about your leisurewear is so important! Never think it's beneath the fashion radar!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"There, There, Dearie"

It's 5 below 0 outside -- aggggh! Ireland left with me a fresh appreciation for hot drinks. Tea there, very necessary, arrived always at the table in an adorable personal-sized teapot (made of restaurant-type steel) and in the hotel room was a super-express electric hot-water pot. Unlike the rip-roaring rush of coffee, tea's caffeine boost is more like a pat on the hand: "There, there, dearie, don't carry on so."

I never had thoughts about tea or owned a teapot large or small, and back home explored again, with reason and delight, U.K. tea brands and the old-restaurant-ceramics frontier on eBay until I saw this personal teapot from Jackson China (Falls Creek, PA) stamped L7, July 1962, with a utilitarian shape and light cocoa-colored airbrush trim. Rinsing it and filling it (10-ounce capacity) with hot water and a teabag provides two cups, plus milk or cream, in my favorite 6-ounce restaurant-china cups, and the second hot cup is waiting right there and I don't have to get up for it. Most civilized.

Then I thought -- tea should be shared and I need another personal teapot for my company! It'll work for coffee too. From eBay I ordered another, same maker and shape, but with bright-green banding. It's on its way. The cup in this photo is from Shenango, date unknown. It's not a teacup but a coffee cup, but today I liked this shape's stability and thick heat-holding walls. Yesterday I took a walk. It was 9 degrees. I was back in 11 minutes.