It’s Questionable

Margaret Thatcher was a British stateswoman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. The Falklands War highlighted her most significant international relationship, which was with Ronald Reagan. Thatcher and Reagan, who together made the 1980s the decade of conservatism, shared a vision that the Soviet Union was an evil enemy who deserved no compromise. Their partnership ensured that the Cold War continued until the rise to power of the reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. 

In 1976, Margaret Thatcher, in keeping with her strong anticommunism stance, gave a speech which earned her the nickname “Iron Lady” in the soviet press.

She was quite an impressive woman.

One of Thatcher’s famous quotes is this “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” I love that so much.

Today when I was shopping for mousetraps and toothpaste and vitamins, I walked through the clothing section and ran smack dab into this T-shirt. It brought to mind Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote.

Though I appreciate the ideology of the message and that “woman power”, “don’t think you can push me around” mentality, I’m still not a fan. 

If you have to wear a T-shirt that announces the message to not underestimate you, your value and admiration may already be in question. 


About a year ago I began a process of helping Mama with her hundreds of photos. We created a system of using photo boxes and with a Sharpie, writing on the box the name of each one of the children; my three siblings and myself. When we saw a photo that was strictly that person’s family, it went into their box. For random photos or Christmas photos and group photos, we put them into chronological order by year. There were also several generations of black and white photos; my grandparents era and then my parents dating/wedding/young family era. What a job! We worked on them for weeks but then life happened. I got busier with my job and family and we put the photo sorting on hold.

Today I was back in the basement at the ping-pong table, where the photos job began. What an emotional roller coaster it was. I smiled at fun pictures and had tears with sweet/sad ones. I saw photos of my two brothers, who died far too young. It is crushing to look at their grade school pictures and realize the outcome of those tender years. 

I ran across the above photo in a box that contained similarly staged photos of my siblings from their school picture day. It was sixth grade. 

I am on the front row, second from the left. I remember the outfit well; a cherry-red jumper with a starched white blouse, and knee socks. I also remember being a bit jealous of the two girls on either side of me with their white “leotards”. Always on the fashion awareness edge. 

Except for seven or eight, I was able to recall the name of every kid in that photo. Amazing. This is, of course, the way our minds work, which reveals itself continually in people with dementia. Those memories that are so pressed down and layered into our brains, are retained, whereas the newer memories have not quite taken root.

I do wonder what all of these classmates of mine are up to these days. It would be fun to have a crystal ball and be able to peer into their lives. There is one thing I know for sure, which is that they are all my age.

Being an August birthday, many or most are probably already 61 years old. When I was young, it was always a point of contention to be the youngest in the class–everyone else getting to 12 years old before me, then 16, then 18. I was always lagging behind in the age race. 

But now, well, I don’t mind one bit dragging up the rear in catching up with my classmates. For 19 more days, I can state that I am only 60. So there, Vickie and Becky, sitting on either side of me with your fancy white pantyhose. 

Sumatra Kerinci

Today I felt old. I met a client at a hip little coffee shop to do an interview for a story. I walked in and everyone was totally cool and aloof in running shorts and Nike’s or skinny jeans with a clever tee and Tom’s. I was, without a doubt, the oldest there. 

So I tried to do what my oldest son, Andrew, says “Own it.” No, I am not 30 or 40. No, I am not wearing running shorts and Nike’s. But I am wearing a cute little trendy dress with ruffles on the sleeves. My shoes are black, wedgy sandals. My toenails are freshly painted magenta. I have a bracelet that is multiple bracelets of silver and pearls. And I am using a Mac laptop. Whew! At least my computer helps me fit in.

And while it is true that I am wearing bifocals in order to type the interview, my glasses are black plastic frame with pink and green flowers on the arms. My hair is pulled into a side pony. It is not a 1982 high side pony, however. I do not want look totally Debbie Gibson. It is low and pulled together with a black claw, complete with intentional messy Meghan Markle wisps. 

My client was a 39 year-old football coach. The story is about his dedicated community work. It was impressive to hear. He also gushed about his 18 month-old son, who has obviously won his heart. 

I told the client that I have a son his age (actually just a tad older). He was kind and asked if I got married when I was 10. “Yes”, I smiled. 

In the famous words of my dear husband, who borrowed the line from a mentor of his in medical school, “It is what it is.” And it sure is. It cannot be denied that I could have been the mother of everyone in that coffee shop. It is a bit humbling to face that reality. 

When I paid for my coffee and his, I slid my card through the (also hip) little white Square and used my finger to sign the screen. I asked for a receipt to expense report it and the barista told me sweetly that they do not print paper receipts. “We can text it or email it to you”, he said politely.  Well, okay then.

It’s a new world and I’m an old girl. But I know that the moment I step away from new things and new ways and new knowledge, the train will pass me by. 

So I will stay ’in it’ and continue learning. And perhaps along the way I can also do a little teaching, at least a little modeling of grace and patience. Those things are always in vogue. 

Not Flawless

I was out with my mama running a few errands. We got into our car after a stop at the post office. A young woman crossed the parking lot, coming from the quick market on the corner. She was wearing a tank top with sparkling Times New Roman font stating “Flawless”. 

I mentioned in an earlier blog that it takes a lot of chutzpah to wear certain graphic tees. Well, this one ranks right up there.

For staters, she wasn’t flawless. Who is? She was ordinary-looking; a little pudge in the tummy, marshmallowy-soft arms, hair that needed a bit of attention, and that was just her exterior. In other words, she was like 90% of us. 

But flawless? No.

However, those are things that 25 year-olds can get away with. And of course, that is the target marketing audience. A 60 year-old knows better than to wear something like that, even if there happens to truly be a flawless-seeming one out there, you know, a Christie Brinkley type.

I wish there were T-shirts made that stated something like: Flawless In Progress or Flawless Pursuit of Kindness or Flawless Hunger for a Pure Heart or…you get the idea.

But flawless? No, not even for one day. 

Real Shopping

Apparently some people still enjoy driving to a mall, finding a parking place and shopping in a real store. 

Macy’s department store experienced a sales surge at the start of the year as customers poured in to buy products from clothing to hand bags to perfume. 

Sales were up 4.2% in the first three months of 2018, reversing a downward trend the retailer has experienced over the last four years. Macy’s net income was $139 million in the first quarter, up from $78 million in the same quarter last year. I know Macy’s is a huge company, but an increase of $61million is a lot of money to anyone. 

For decades, Macy’s was the king of department stores, but it has been struggling to reinvent itself in a time when people would rather sit on their sofa in their jammies with their laptops in their well, laps, and await the front door delivery of their shoes and clothes and Keurigs. 

Macy’s is hoping to better compete with Amazon by bringing technology to its aisles. By the end of this year, shoppers at all Macy’s stores will be able to use their smartphones to scan and pay for most products with the store’s app. 

The company also recently bought Story, a Manhattan shop that regularly rotates its look and merchandise, similar to the changing exhibitions at an art gallery or features in a magazine. Macy’s has also brought Story’s founder and CEO onto its leadership team to help improve the in-store experience for shoppers. 

I have never kept one pair of shoes or a clothing item that I purchased online. For that reason, I do not shop that way. Even QVC shopping (which I have rarely done), has been bagged back up and schlepped to the post office for return. 

I am definitely more of an in-person shopper. I want to look at the real color and see if it is a true royal blue, not periwinkle, a true lemon yellow, not golden yellow, or a true pink, not peach. 

True confession here. I carry 3×5 laminated cards of my color swatches in my purse. I am a ‘winter’. FYI.

I also want to touch the fabric. I want to know how it feels against my skin.

And perhaps most importantly, I want to try the darn things on. I am a between-sizes person. I may wear one size in a brand and another size in a different brand. I also need to see if it covers what I want it to cover and accentuates what I want it to accentuate, which isn’t a lot, but I work with what I’ve got.

So, I say “Go Macy’s!” I am glad that department stores realize they still have value. And besides, I figure I am burning a few calories and toning my calves as I walk through the stores. I also get quite the cardio workout when I jump up and down in a claustrophobic fit as I attempt to pull the size two, that won’t fit,  back over my head. 

New clothes AND a workout. Now that is multi-tasking. 

Fashion Don’ts

There is so much wrong here that I hardly know where to begin.

Do I start with the T-shirt shape or the holes or the statement itself? 

Sometimes all you can say is “Oh honey.”

Oh honey, do not buy this shirt. Do not wear this shirt. Do not advertise your weaknesses.

We are all, occasionally, really good at making bad decisions. Sometimes those decisions are as benign as wearing the wrong shoes for a day of walking. Sometimes those decisions affect our health. For example, I should have chosen an apple for dessert last night instead of mocha chip ice-cream. 

And yes, some decisions are life-changing. Some decisions hurt others and ourselves. Some decisions boomerang for generations. 

We do not need to announce or wear our bad decisions. Most are obvious anyway. 

I had a strong urge to take the purple Sharpie out of my purse and cross out the words “really” and “bad”. What this shirt, and most of us, need is a little bit of confidence. We must be the strong women (and men) that we are and begin to trust our decisions. 

I know I am old, and sometimes wise, so listen up. Young women, even and especially high school girls, please never wear this kind of garbage. It is not cute. It is not clever. It is not funny. It is pitiful, actually.

The really bad decision here would be to purchase this shirt. 

Ask Mom

Today I took my middle son, Christopher, to the airport to catch a flight back to New York, where he is staying for about four weeks. He had been home for a weekend visit to attend his Grandma’s 90th birthday party.

I had a meeting at work at 2:30 so had about an hour to fill between. I decided to shop for one hour, and only one hour. I set the timer on my phone so I would not get carried away and lose track of time, which has indeed occurred. 

I stopped at a big outlet store, known for nice clothing that may have been an overstock item or last season’s style or have a small tear in a seam that can be easily repaired. The prices can be quite amazing.

Today, all black, white and navy pants were $1.99. Yep, it’s true. I bought two pair of white Gap jeans and two pair of black, skinny ankle length Banana Republic pants. All four pair for $8.00. Great for summer. 

While I was in the dressing room, making sure the pants fit (there are no returns), I overhead two sisters trying on clothes. They were asking each other’s opinions on different pieces. And they were very honest with each other. I heard one say “No, don’t get that dress. It makes you look fat.” The other called her a name then they continued chatting back and forth. 

I head one of them say “I really like this blouse, but look at this.” The other one replied “Oh, yep, I see that.” The first one then said “Take a picture of it and text it to Mom. Ask her if she can get that stain out.”

That made me smile. I do not have daughters, I have three sons. But I can imagine this scenario happening if I had daughters. 

Moms know things. When my mama was younger, I remember calling her to ask a question about cooking or how to hem a skirt or if I had measles as a child. 

Moms also know how to find things that no one else can find. I will empty every drawer and every closet and every box to find something for one of my children. 

Moms know how to gently rub a child’s back as he vomits. We give sympathetic “Oh honeys” and mean it every single time. I remember my mama doing this for me. 

Moms know how to help with science projects at 11:00 p.m. Moms know how to soothe a hurting child, whether that child is five or 25. 

Moms are not super stars. Moms do not have super powers. Moms simply have an innate sense of helping their kids find answers to their questions, come hell or high water. And we will search the ends of the earth to find that answer. 

We will go through the fire. We will stay up all night. We will fight the fiercest opponents. 

We can even tell how to get a stain out of an item of clothing when we are not present to actually look at it. 

Come to think of it, maybe we do have super powers. 


Our First Lady certainly has style, that cannot be denied. All first ladies have style. If it is not inherit in them, they are taught. Being a first lady must be tough. She is constantly scrutinized for her appearance. Seems a bit harsh and unfair, but it goes with the position.

Of course, I love Melania’s Christian Louboutin heels. I love her belted suits and matching hats. Wait…why does everyone call her Melania? Yes, it is her name, but are we intimate friends with her? Of course not. She will, for the remainder of this post, be called Mrs. Trump. She deserves the respect.

But I have to say that the above photo is one of my favorite looks. She is casual, but far from sloppy. Fun and chic but not cheesy. Obviously, her outfit is not from TJ Maxx or Marshalls but that is exactly where the rest of us common folk could go to mimic the look. 

The keen eye is going to know whether or not your spiked pumps are Christian Louboutin, but a look like this one is absolutely copyable. 

In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would guess that Mrs. Trump copied ME on this look. Though, my sneakers are “Chucks”, my black skinny jeans and gingham shirt are from Gap, and my gray baseball cap is definitely labeled “Yale”. Plus, she is a statuesque, willow tree with endless  legs. I am 5’3″ (on tippy toes) and my black jeans were purchased in the petite section. The look is not quite the same. But still…

I did a little research about how Mrs. Trump goes about selecting her outfits. Apparently, this is done in conjunction with Hervé Pierre. He is a French designer who had previously worked at Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, two American labels run by Latin American immigrants with long histories of dressing Washington wives. 

Now a freelance designer and consultant, Pierre acts as the First Lady’s de facto stylist. 

As it turns out, Pierre shops for many of Mrs. Trump’s outfits anonymously in New York. “I go to Bergdorf, I to go to Saks, Michael Kors, Dior,” he told The Times. “What is challenging is when I cannot say what it is for.” What a great job this guy has. 

He also makes sure that Mrs. Trump doesn’t wear anything that other public figures have worn before. “I always ask: ‘Was it already on the red carpet? Did somebody already wear it?’ Because I don’t want her to be on the ‘Who Wore It Better’ list.”

The fact that the clothes are bought off the rack with neither the store nor the designer knowing who the purchaser is pretty much checks out with Mrs. Trump’s previous track record of buying and wearing designer clothes. 

Mrs. Trump is genetically gorgeous, she can’t help it. It was a DNA perfect storm. More importantly, she appears to have a kindness, a sweetness that is also traceable. 

That kind of beauty cannot be purchased in New York, no matter how rich and powerful you may be. 

Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week wrapped up a couple of days ago. I looked at a few pictures. I’m thinking that ‘fashion’ may be a stretch. It is more like ‘fishin’ week.

From what I saw, the clothing looked like someone had been fishing around in the basement of an old house and put on whatever could be found in a box of clothing, and on their heads, stuck dried out dollar store artificial flowers and dowel rods.

I have mentioned in a previous post that my mother was a clothes designer and seamstress and model when she was in high school. I’ve heard my mother talk about fashion all of my life. And fortunately or unfortunately, I inherited that love of fashion.

To add insult to injury, these poor models have been made to appear so pitiful. I realize it is part of the art. But many of them look as if they just stepped off of the set of The Walking Dead. Others look as if they may be in the final stages of ebola.

I am sure  that a 22 year-old in Paris would read this and blow me off as an unsophisticated old lady who lives in small town, midwest in the good ole’ U.S.A. That is okay. And to be fair, a few of the styles and models were truly lovely.

As the daughter of a woman ahead of her time, designing and creating fashion without enough money to buy paper patterns, and then modeling them at grand Shillito’s in downtown Cincinnati, I am not a total ingenue.

My mama was Grace Evelyn Hall of Hughes High School fame. I am proud of her passion and her drive. She was attaching fabric flowers to dress waistlines and wearing her hair twisted into cute little knots with leaves and twigs 75 years ago.

There is nothing new under the sun.


Faux Fur Friday

Yep, it’s a real national holiday. The first Friday in December. Faux Fur Friday. I assume it is the antithesis of Real Fur Friday. This is non-issue for me since I have never owned a real fur.

When I was a little girl I wanted to wear one. I thought it was completely luxurious to have a mink stole (though I never really knew what that was.)

My dad would occasionally hunt rabbits and squirrels. I remember desperately wanting him to use those skins to make me a little fur jacket. That didn’t happen. We just ate the varmints. I once considered finding the skins myself and tossing one around my neck like a sophisticated boa. I’m guessing a couple of days of that thing sitting in my dresser drawer would have become quite unpleasant.

I feel that I was more enamored with a fur coat when I was not 60 years old. Some of those things are cool when you are 40 or even 50 but something about being 60 years old wearing a fur coat just makes you look 60. I want no part of that.

Though, I have my eye on a full length gray chinchilla fur coat with a shawl collar. Apparently it is the creme de la creme. I found one on sale for $27,000.

I’ll probably just stick with my J. Crew factory outlet faux fur edged hooded coat I found last year at end of season for $39.00. Dang.