Deep-seeded

20160328_221901-1_resizedMany of my accessories share a common “theme,” repeats of an overly loved image, symbol or pattern that speaks to me. Some, I can’t explain why I favor (I just do) and for others, the meaning is deep-seated.

By far, the most prolific imagery in my life is of the leafy variety. Leaves of all shapes and sizes are commonplace in my wardrobe. I am enchanted by them – both real and decorative. I love the elements they comprise: the mosaics and coursing lines of their veins, the flowing or rippled edges of their bodies. The variety is deliciously endless.

As a Colorado native, I think there is almost nothing more beautiful than the changing colors of the trees in Autumn as we make way toward the quiet blanket of winter snow. The vibrant greens of spring and summer turn to the bold yellows, fiery oranges and burnt reds of Fall. Eventually the leaves curl up, turn brown and finish their existence as sweet-smelling mulch underfoot.

But those details are just a bonus. Really, I love leaves because of Freddie.

51EKy2gE2iLIn second grade, Mrs. Clogg read The Fall of Freddie the Leaf to my class. I remember sitting on the floor with the other students, silently startling when I learned I wasn’t the only one. Freddie was afraid of dying, too.

Little Freddie clings to his branch, awash in his mortality even as his wise friend Daniel offers words of comfort, urging him to accept the facts of nature.

“Everything dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die.”

“I won’t die!” said Freddie with determination.

Freddie was like me. He didn’t share his friend’s ability to calmly agree to the inevitable.  My mind raced back to a night when, at 4 years old, it first occurred to me that my life would not last forever.

That night, I ripped into the quiet, screaming, railing against the realization that I would someday end.2016-03-30 11.01.45_resized

Freddie understood how every fiber of my being fought the concept of cessation, how my heart pounded, my skin prickled and my stomach clenched. He said “no,” too.

Today, those screams still catch in my throat in the pressing silence of nighttime. I am frequently paralyzed by the same panic that my mother soothed by painting my fingernails that first night when I was 4.

In the story, Freddie eventually lets go with the help of a gust of wind. As he floats toward his fatality, he revels in the beauty of the part he’s played in the larger life of the tree.

I’ve still got a very firm grip on my branch. But the lovely leaves I often wear serve as a gentle reminder that I’ll get there.

 

 

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Reverent recreations

“Ah, she cried. You look so cool…you always look so cool.”
– Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby

20160327_161152-1-1-1_resized.jpgLooking through a scrapbook of old family photos this weekend, I was reminded once again of why the 1920s and 1930s will always be the epitome of cool.

My favorite photograph in the book is this one (right).

My late grandmother, Catherine, poses with my grandfather’s car, parked somewhere in Denver’s City Park (we surmise) circa 1928 or 1929. Her size 4 heeled shoe rests on the running board and her hair is tucked under an utterly fashionable hat. I love everything about that shot, particularly how effortlessly and coolly beautiful my grandma looks.

(I find it puzzling that, according to semantics scholars, the word “cool” didn’t achieve its place in the vernacular until the 1940s, nearly two decades after F. Scott Fitzgerald penned his Jazz-age masterpiece in 1925.)

Gma dunnWith my own style, I’ve dabbled in this era, its drop-waist dresses, buckled shoes and, most importantly, its gorgeous Art Deco and Art Nouveau jewelry. But try as I might, I will never accomplish the level of cool my grandmother marked with that moment. Or this one (left).

I’ve only been able to successfully incorporate the jewelry of this time period into my wardrobe. (Hats do not become me, and I eschew heeled shoes more often than not.)

I’m aware of only a few companies that manufacture this type of reproduction jewelry, the two premier being Silver Crane Sterling and La Vie Parisienne.

Both lines are lovely, but I have personally favored Silver Crane, as it is all sterling silver (albeit more expensive) versus Parisienne’s use of plating. No matter which you choose, you’ll acquire a piece that is exquisitely and simultaneously timeless and dated.

I happened upon the Silver Crane Sterling line in 1997, in what was to become (and will forever remain) my favorite store of all time, Curiosities. (Go there and give Howard your money. You’ll thank me for it.)

The Holland-based line is expansive, ranging from the flowing lines of the aforementioned Art Nouveau style, popularized in the earlier part of the 20th century, to the bold shapes of classic Art Deco and even into styles of today. Whether intricately detailed or focused on clean lines, these pieces and the time-honored styles they help to preserve are something to be prized.

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Copyrighted photo by Chip Litherland, Eleven Weddings

For my wedding in 2012, I accessorized with two of my favorite Silver Crane pieces and presented a third to my sister to wear as my matron of honor. The only other piece of jewelry I wore that day was the ring my paternal grandmother Virginia received on her nuptials in October 1936.

Our event paid quiet and subtle tribute to that golden age of fashion. (No headbands or spats to be found.) I’m so glad it did. Though I lost both of my grandmothers before that special day, I did my best to channel them.

 

All the frills

In honor of this weekend’s upcoming festivities, I give you this clip from one of my favorite movies of all time.

As an aside: I love the irony that the song details a lovely Easter bonnet and Linda Mason’s dress is pattered with crowns.

Since the days of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, springtime celebrants have welcomed the season – and the Easter holiday – with new clothes.

But the emergence of the frilly and floral-festooned headgear for ladies – collectively referred to as Easter bonnets – didn’t occur until well after the post-war 1870s, when women and children replaced dark-colored mourning dresses with brighter hues. Those eventually became the pastels that are perennial this time of year. In the 20th century, women regularly began topping off their looks with the aforementioned accoutrements.

Rest assured, fair readers, my baby girl will be a bonnie lass in a pink bonnet (and matching purse) from her Grammie.

Sole sister

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My niece’s toes in my favorite kind of shoes. Photo by my sister.

Today we’re taking a stroll with my twin sister down her (fond) memory lane of footwear. The post below is hers.

I hold onto my shoes, far too long perhaps, because I am unable to separate with them.

Each of the 54 pairs I carefully covet has carried me somewhere; whether it be down the aisle at my own wedding, through the snow when sledding with my daughter, or painfully across the campus of the university where I earned my degree 16 years ago…yes, I still have those blister-causing beauties. “Vanity knows no pain” my grandmother would say.

Sometimes the look is more important than the logic.

As a child, I coveted a pink and white pair of saddle shoes, adorned with the Cabbage Patch Kids emblem…until a neighborhood friend brought a garden snake into our basement. Those shoes – and that snake who attempted to take up residence in them – lost their soles that day.

At 4, I wore a particular pair of high-heeled sandals until the buckle broke and when it did, I began to sob. My precious Grandpa – who was well-heeled for the task – drove me to the shoe repair shop at the speed of light in his two-door gold Cadillac to get them fixed that very day.

For my 8th birthday, that same Grandpa bought me a pair of white cowgirl boots from Montgomery Ward that I had admired for weeks. I wore those boots until they weren’t made for walking anymore, their underbellies filled with holes. I loved them so much that I wore them to bed more than once, and got in trouble for it.

I once selected some blue and white boy’s Reebok tennis shoes for school, because they were like my Dad’s. On warm days, we’d wear them with shorts and during school days, it was as though I was able to walk in his shoes.

My sister and my other bridesmaids were forced to suffer through my wedding; their feet festooned with a pair of painfully gorgeous raisin-colored sandals, bedazzled with copper beads. When the wedding was over… I stole my sister’s pair from her.

(In actuality, my sister made her own vow that day at my wedding: she kicked those shoes off of her feet the very minute she got back down the aisle and swore never to wear them again. Now they’re mine.)

The first time I met my stepdaughter, she sat down next to me, took off her tiny white tennis shoes and put them on my dinner plate.

At 27, when I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I bought for my baby was a pair of Patagonia booties. That baby, now 10, has developed a healthy shoe addiction of her own.

One could say, shoes give my life direction. I use them as metaphors. I use them for confidence. I use them to start off my day on the ‘right foot.’ Even when the world seems like a grim place, a fun or favorite pair of shoes can bring a little sunshine to my day .

When dealing with others, I do my best to apply the philosophy of walking a mile in another person’s shoes. When making decisions, I proverbially ‘put the shoe on the other foot’ to look at something from all angles.

But, I always seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I worry about EVERYTHING. I worry about getting sick. I worry about my husband’s insomnia. I worry about getting fired. I worry if my daughter eats healthily enough. I worry about my family. My friends. My coworkers. And my coworkers’ children. I worry that the other kids will figure out that my baby niece is smarter than they are. (Too bad, she is.)

I wish I could buy the fastest pair of running shoes to get me away from all of those worries. But I can’t. It’s who I am.

So, I’ll just sit back, take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time…wearing a great pair of shoes, of course.

Thank you, sweet sibling, for this turn (and these turns of phrase) in your shoes! 

The fabric of my fashion

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A rainbow of scarves waits to be purchased at my local mothership (aka TJ Maxx). Photo from my own gallery.

There is something so luxurious about a scarf. From the material of which it’s made to the effortless or thoughtfully constructed air it can lend to an ensemble, no other accessory can achieve so much by doing so little.

I. Love. Scarves. They’re versatile and the perfect marriage of form and function. They can dress up a simple T-shirt and jeans,  add a pop of color to a LBD or serve as outerwear for the coat-averse among us.

On nearly a daily basis, I’m thankful for their early 2000s resurgence.( I can barely get dressed without including one as a finishing piece.) They inched back onto the scene in overly long forms, worn wrapped just once around the neck, seemingly dangling for yards toward the wearer’s feet.

As years have passed scarves have grown shorter, thicker and most recently, the infinity scarf is enjoying its lengthy 15 minutes. And perennially popular is the posh Pashmina.

For thousands of years, women like me have clothed themselves in these multipurpose and terrific textiles. They have served scads of purposes – cleanliness, denotation of military rank, religious observance and of course, warmth. Today, they are more of a costuming capstone than a weather-dictated necessity.

So layer up, ladies and gents. There’s a scarf for every outfit and every occasion. I’m off to pick out which of mine I’m going to don tomorrow. After all, it’s supposed to snow.

 

A fragment of friendship

20160321_125110-1_resizedI’m wearing a breathtakingly beautiful necklace one of my dearest friends (and most favorite people) gave me yesterday. When I opened the box, I gasped, not only because the jewel is so stunning, but because without knowing it, Jodi had selected a piece by one of my favorite designers: Angie Olami.

Angie Atkins is a Chicago-born Israeli designer who creates the Angie Olami jewelry line,  featuring ancient Roman Glass set in sterling silver, gemstones and pearls. The glass is sourced from shards of ancient perfume pots and other vessels, dating back from 100 BCE to 300 CE. No two pieces of glass are exactly alike due to natural variances. (Not to worry, fellow history enthusiasts; her suppliers are all licensed by the Israeli Government Antiquities Authority.)

Her jewelry is carried in stores across the globe, but sparsely so. I’m aware of just one boutique on the Front Range where her work is regularly stocked. Should you go out trekking, be advised: it’s pricey, but justifiably so. Each earring, necklace, ring, brooch or bracelet is delicately detailed and carries with it thousands of years of human history.

It’s amusing to imagine the former life of this pendant’s glass. Did it belong to a woman of wealth who could afford a luxury like perfume? Did it hold a family’s drinking water? Maybe it was part of a beautiful lamp that burned in a home waiting for a centurion to return from battle. It could have served as a vase in a temple where people offered prayer.

It makes you wonder what will remain for archaeologists of the future to uncover about us and of how we lived, what we treasured. I hope this necklace will be one of the finds.

Waxing Poetic about ‘WP’

Waxing Poetic about ‘WP’

Yes, I went there. Really, for me it’s impossible not to.

Since November of 2008, I’ve been in the throes of an intense and passionate love affair with Waxing Poetic jewelry. (I’ve never heard of a more aptly named company.) I feel further justified by the fact that I’m not alone in my sentiments. See: #iampoetic on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc..

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The seeds of my obsession.  (Photo from my personal gallery.)

I remember it well, the day I discovered this line. It was at one of my favorite shops in Boulder, Bliss. There, inside a glass case, sat four tiny silver squares that would change my life forever. That statement may seem unnecessarily dramatic, but when you consider how this brand has taken part in charting my course in the years since, it all adds up. (And add up, it has.)

Those four little charms were the entirety of the Latin Perpetuals series. Perfectly imperfect in their detail, each is crafted of solid sterling silver and bears a Latin word and ancient imagery on the front and the English translation on the reverse.  Pax/Pacis – peace. Exulto – joyful one. Carus – beloved one. Gratia – the grateful. SWOON.

My meager income at the time allowed me to purchase only one that day – $47 was a lot of money to pay for a small charm – so I took home Carus because the store had just one left. I returned to Bliss in the following months as I was able and eventually acquired them all, save one. Gratia.

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Tonic Tags. (Photo from my personal gallery.)

My love for this brand ballooned in the following years: Bobbinas. Spirit Stamps. Tonic Tags. Lucky Mojo charms. Storybook Pages. Each series by Waxing Poetic is thoughtfully named and poised to be collected. Something about this line evokes the special, the unique. Even as it has expanded into scarves, candles and most recently, a direct-sales venture, PoeticXchange akin to Silpada, each piece is designed and presented with care.

As subsequent WP lines co-mingled in my jewelry box, I never forgot about Gratia. It became an obsession. I scoured the Internet. One by one, I called individual retailers across the country and visited every WP-carrying store I could in my travels. I contacted Waxing Poetic directly. None of my efforts proved fruitful – until two weeks ago.

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Gratia and Lucky Mojo charms. (Photo from my personal gallery.)

One of my favorite sellers on eBay, to whom I’d reached out in hopes of tracking down my long sought-for treasure, wrote me back. Gratia had been located in some back-stock. After eight years, it’s mine.  I still can’t believe it. I keep reaching to my wrist and quietly smiling to myself that my long search is over. Finally.

It’s funny how a happenstance visit to a small store effortlessly launched such a nurtured infatuation.

As coincidence would have it, that’s similar to what launched WP itself. “It all really started with a visit to an antique store back in

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Status Stamps. (Photo from my personal gallery.)

2001, when she was searching for something (what? she doesn’t remember), and ended up inspired by old wax seals that lead to the creation of the first wax seal insignias,” Patti Pagliei-Simpson, the company’s bootstrapping founder, has recounted.

As I write this, I feel much like Inigo Montoya once he’s exacted revenge on his father’s killer. What will I obsess over, now that I’m not hunting/longing for that never-forgotten charm?

It’s shop o’clock somewhere.