Posted tagged ‘Clothing’

“Her hat is a creation that will never go out of style; it will just look ridiculous year after year.”

November 13, 2012

The sky got black almost as quickly as in a science fiction movie just before the aliens arrive, but the rain came instead; it fell in torrents. Gracie stayed in the car while I was at my library board meeting, and I had left a window open for her. I don’t think she was thankful. The inside door and the seat were soaked, but Gracie, being both smart and practical, had moved over to the dry side. On the drive home, I splashed through flooded streets and had to be careful about hydroplaning. Right now the day has an eerie light, but it has stopped raining for the meantime. Gracie is resting from her ordeal.

Today is my errand day and I have only finished two of five, but the rain just started again, not so perfect for grocery shopping. How sad that makes me.

I have never been a hat person. My mother sometimes forced one on me at Easter, a hat in a pastel, usually pink or blue, with small flowers. I always felt a bit self-conscious. I’d put up my hood on the coldest days when I walked to school, but I seldom wore a real hat. On rainy days my hair got wet. I remember my mother trying to make me wear one of those silly transparent hats which tie under the chin and fold up to fit into a small pouch. I always thought of them as old lady hats kept by them in oversize purses in case of rain emergencies. I have earmuffs, and I don’t mind wearing them. I have a couple of baseball hats which I actually wear at baseball games to keep the sun at bay. When I lived in Ghana, I had a straw hat I wore for a bit, but I felt like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm so I stopped wearing it. My neighbor across the street always wears a similar hat when she works in the garden. She looks a bit like Ma Kettle working the farm.

I have a hat collection. That always makes me chuckle a bit at the irony.

“After enlightenment, the laundry.”

July 10, 2012

It’s another beautiful day. The sun is bright, and it’s not yet too warm. The weatherman says low 80’s for today.  I have a bunch of errands to do later including sending for my Ghanaian visa. I’ve already bought a few things to take with me: wipe on insect repellant as last year my feet got eaten, wash cloths which start out in a small pill shape and a personal fan, hand size which runs on batteries. I don’t think I need anything else as I still have a few things I bought and never used for last summer’s trip, a first aid kit being among them.

When I was in Peace Corps training, we had two choices for washing clothes: a bucket for hand-washing or finding someone to wash them. I, of course, chose the latter as did most of the other trainees. I remember Winneba, our first training site, and following a dirt path among trees to the house of the woman who washed our clothes in buckets for a small amount of money. I have no idea how she was found, but I was thrilled not to have to bucket wash my clothes. I don’t remember the rest of training or my laundry, but I also don’t remember washing my own clothes. I’m thinking we found someone everywhere we went.

When I got to Bolga to live, I didn’t wash clothes there either, except for what one might call my personals. Thomas, who worked for me, washed the rest of my laundry in metal buckets then he’d iron my dresses using a charcoal iron. I noticed the seamstress who made my dress last summer uses that the same type charcoal iron.

At the hotel where I stayed last summer, I asked about someone doing my laundry. They recommended a woman who washed my clothes for not much money. She barely spoke English, but she filled in the gaps by smiling a lot. Always on her back was her small daughter. My clothes came back in one day. When I left Ghana to come home, my clothes, except for the personals, were all clean. That has never happened on any trip before, but I expect it to happen again this summer.

“She wore far too much rouge last night and not quite enough clothes. That is always a sign of despair in a woman.”

May 22, 2012

I heard the rain through the open window when I woke up this morning. The rain is steady but it’s a light rain, the sort where the drops from the roof make more noise than the rain. I love days like today when the room is dark and all is quiet except for the raindrops.

A lot of the pine pollen has been washed from my deck, but under the deck chairs the yellow-green spots are protected and only pitted by the rain. They look like paintings, like Pollacks dripped from brushes. The umbrellas are back to being red. The deck will soon be in its summer finery.

When I was a little kid, I didn’t need or want much. I had my sled for the winter and my bike for the rest of the year. I wore sneakers all summer, the same pair until I either out-grew them or they finally wore out. I wore shorts and blouses, the summer uniform for girls. Fashionable hadn’t yet become part of my vocabulary. Whatever I found in my bureau drawer was what I wore for the day. I don’t even think I worried about matching colors.

When I became a teenager, clothes were paramount. I had to have what everyone else was wearing. Individuality was a concept none of us espoused. I remember one Christmas getting black stretch stirrup pants and a fluffy, almost Angora like pink sweater. That outfit was so much the rage you’d think it was a uniform for a strange band. I loved that sweater and wore it until it was unwearable, worn and no longer fluffed. We wore our cardigans backwards, the buttons down our backs. They were best worn with tightish skirts which zippered in the back. I never had enough clothes back then-at least I thought so.

In college, for my first two years, we were required to wear dresses or skirts. None of us liked it but we didn’t have a choice. The coldest winter in years occurred during my junior year and the clothing rule changed. We could now wear slacks to help keep us warm. The horse had been let out of the barn, and from then on we could always wear what we wanted though shorts were not part of the deal.

In Ghana, in those days, women had to wear dresses, never pants. I wore a dress every day to teach. I travelled for hours on busses in a dress which actually made pit stops easier as most places were holes in the ground in sheds. Pants would have been complicated. I had a pair of jeans I wore for long rides on my motorcycle, and I had a couple of pairs of shorts I wore around the house, never outside. The good part of all of that was my dresses were made in Ghana of Ghanaian cloth and were bright, colorful and beautiful.

Teaching here started in dresses and went to pants at some point in the late 70’s or early 80’s. My casual clothes were jeans and flannel shirts in winter and shorts and polo shirts in summer.

Now, for the most part, I wear pants and all sorts of shirts. When it’s cold, I wear a hoodie. I have two summer dresses and a spring-fall dress. Seldom do I go places where dressing up is demanded, maybe a wedding or two. My life has slid back into the comfortable. Fashionable is no longer part of my vocabulary.

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”

April 7, 2012

Not a single errand is left. I don’t think I’ve missed a store. All I seem to do is haul bags into the house. Yesterday one errand was grocery shopping, but I timed it so the store was fairly empty. I even had a list, but it still wasn’t fun. The candy store was the best stop.

Today’s weather is almost the same as yesterday’s but without the clear blue sky. Partially cloudy is the forecast. I don’t know why it is never partially sunny.

The Easter bunny comes tonight. We were excited, but it was never close to the excitement of waiting for Santa Claus, and there was no countdown to the big night. In the morning, our baskets would be on the kitchen table or on the table in the living room or sometimes even in our bedrooms. Grass was always at the bottom of the baskets, but I don’t know why. I still don’t. We never questioned a rabbit bringing eggs and candy especially one wearing clothes and standing on his hind legs. That proved to us he wasn’t your average rabbit. The baskets were straw and multi-colored. I think everyone I knew got the same sort of basket. Even now I see the similar ones for sale in all the stores.

New Easter clothes were part of the spring renewal. That they were pastels was a goodbye to winter’s drab colors. We were like spring flowers bursting out in yellow, blue or lilac. When I was little, my mother chose my clothes. No outfit was complete without a hat and white gloves. Shoes were usually patent leather with a small square purse to match. The shoes had one strap across the top that buckled on the side. White ankle socks, sometimes with lace tops, completed the outfit. We used to stand in front of the steps for pictures. All the pictures were in black and white.

“Clothes are inevitable. They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.”

April 3, 2012

Today is a perfect spring day on Cape Cod: a bright sun, a deep blue sky and a bit of a chill in the air. My grass is turning green. The forsythia has yellow flowers as bright as the sun. The springs bulbs have all bloomed, and the green tips of flowers are appearing in the front garden. The male goldfinches are almost brilliant yellow. All of the signs say spring.

Even when I was a kid, I didn’t love pouffy dresses for Easter. I remember one year I had my mother buy me a Lois Lane sort of suit. At my grandmother’s I overheard my mother tell my aunt that’s what I wanted when my aunt questioned my choice of an Easter outfit. My sisters and my cousins were bright in pastels with pouff, and I guess I seemed out-of-place.

When I worked, I wore dresses and skirts every day. One time at lunch in the cafeteria, a student came up to me and said she wanted to wear clothes like mine when she grew up. I was thrilled by her compliment. Most of my clothes back then came from small shops which sold dresses from Mexico and India and countries with similar styles. Afer I retired, I seldom visited those shops as I didn’t often have an occasion to wear a dress, but I did buy a new one for a wedding last October. The dress had the same look as back when especially when I added Ghanaian beads and matching earrings.

The clothes I wore in Ghana, always dresses, were mostly made in Ghana. The cloth was beautiful and the colors amazing. I’d sometimes have a dress made with elaborate stitching around the neck called jeremy in those days. Tie-dye was another one of my favorite cloths for a dress. The patterns were intricate with stripes or squares or dots and back then the die was natural. I also had dresses made from batik., and I still have batik I brought back forty years ago.

For Easter this year, I’m wearing the dress I bought for the wedding. It’s a green color which reminds me of spring. I’ll wear the necklace and earrings. I think together, the dress and jewelry, are  smashing!

“I’d rather be a little weird than all boring.”

March 4, 2012

Weather: ditto!

Nothing on my mind today. No memories pop up and I have no new revelations about the world at large. Today will be the shortest musings in Coffee history.

Last night it rained as the sides of the street were still damp when I woke up. I’ve lost count of the string of rainy days. Noah probably had the same issue. He must have stood at the front of the ark after having fed the animals and mucked the stalls yet again and wondered when it would all end. At least I don’t muck.

That it is March already is amazing. The year is whizzing by me. I’m still waiting for winter and here it is almost spring. The garden catalogs are coming in, and, with Christer’s help, I’m going to order some different flowers for my side garden. I love flower shopping.

The other night was rainy and in the mid-30’s, and we all moaned and groaned about the cold. We have been spoiled.

My animals are all asleep. They sleep all night, get up with me, do a bit of business, snack a bit then sleep again. They have great lives.

I bought a new pair of wool clogs last week. That is quite unusual for me. I seldom buy clothes or shoes being quite content with what I have. This time, though, I had no choice. When I was walking out of a restaurant, the sole of my shoe stayed behind on the rug. I picked it up and brought it with me, hoping it would mend, but I decided that the hole in the toe of the shoe combined with a missing sole was cause enough for a new pair. Last summer I bought some new sandals, light-weight pants and shirts for my trip. For this summer’s trip, I’ll buy new underwear which would have pleased my mother immensely.

Well, I’m done!

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

February 3, 2012

It is so cold (how cold is it?) that my computer has been freezing on me, and the air turns blue when it does.

It has been a struggle this morning to get up and running. Gracie is so used to me and my computer tirades that she slept through it all. Now the computer wants to turn itself off to update. I won’t let it. I am in charge. So there, HAL.

Winter has returned, and it really is cold. The temperature says 30°, but the weatherman said it feels more like 20°. It is, of course, my dump day. Because the dump is the coldest place in the state on a day like today, I fear I have annoyed Mother Nature in some way. Solzhenitsyn would have been able to stay right by the newspaper recycle bin to write his novel. I wish I didn’t have to go out, but I need some groceries and some cat food. I’ll put Miss Gracie’s lovely Pendleton coat on her so she won’t get too cold in the car. The dog dresses better than I do.

I really don’t get dressed up very often. I have few reasons. The last time was a wedding in October. Before that I wore a dress in August in Ghana for the swearing-in ceremony. Both dresses were new. One is my summer dress and the other is my fall dress. I only hope there are no events in winter requiring a dress.

The dress requirements for women have changed dramatically since I was a kid. Back then I had to wear a dress to church, and we always wore uniforms, skirts and blouses, to school. Even in college, skirts or dresses were required until my sophomore year. When I was in Ghana, I also had to wear a dress. We were told only women who worked street corners wore pants, yamayama girls.

Pants suits came next, and they were acceptable dress substitutes at weddings and other once formal gatherings. Everything went downhill after that. My grandmothers never gave in and always wore dresses, but my mother easily accepted the fashion of wearing pants. I think that was an indicator of the anything goes fashion trend.

Now, women wear shorts to church, and I wore pants in Ghana. Many women there, including a couple of my former students, wore pants. I hate getting dressed up for anything. Panty hose is a remnant of the torture devices used during the inquisition. Heels are potential ankle breakers. The only ones I have are short and chunky like the nuns used to wear only mine have colors and no ties.

I am happiest wearing cozy clothes which keep me warm in winter. I wear slippers in the house all the time. Sometimes I even wear them outside: they look a bit like clogs. When I’ll get dressed to go to the dump, I’ll wear corduroy pants, a long sleeve shirt and a sweatshirt with a hood. That’s about as dressed up as I ever get.

“Somebody did complain to me and tell me that my clothes were so loud they couldn’t hear me sing.”

July 17, 2011

No doubt about it: it’s hot already at 80°, but, luckily, yesterday’s humidity has yet to reappear. When it does, on goes the AC. My breakfast spot had no empty booths this morning for more than a minute or two, but I happened in at the right time and immediately found an empty booth. Breakfast, though, was boring. I’m beginning to think it always was, but I just didn’t notice. Lately I’ve tried eggs in a variety of ways, but there is only so much you can do with eggs. I’ve also tried French toast and even breakfast sandwiches. I’m out of options for what I think is the most boring meal of the day.

I sat at a red light by the summer church as it was letting out from mass. People in shorts walked out, and that’s what I noticed first. I thought how comfortable they must have been all crowded together in a pew. We used to have to wear skirts to mass and hats on our heads or even Kleenex if we didn’t have a hat. Bobby pins held the ugly white Kleenex in place. That reminded me of flying not all that long ago. People dressed up to fly. It was an occasion. It’s the same at my Friday night plays. Men used to wear shirts and ties with sports coats and women wore skirts or summer dresses. Now the dress code is simply cover your body in some way.

I read in the paper that GQ named Boston as the worst dressed city. The magazine article blamed all those college kids, called them hoodie monsters. It referred to the city as, “America’s Bad-Taste Storm Sewer: all the worst fashion ideas from across the country flow there, stagnate, and putrefy.” I find that a perfectly accurate description of the Boston fashion scene. I think I probably add to it as I like hoodies, and I hate to get dressed up.

The cape has always been a haven for the under-dressed, for the bathing suit crowd, for Topsiders white with salt rime, flip flops and t-shirts. It’s one of the reasons I love living here. No matter what I wear, nobody notices.

“Just around the corner in every woman’s mind – is a lovely dress, a wonderful suit, or entire costume which will make an enchanting new creature of her.”

March 5, 2011

The sun is on hiatus, and the wind makes the day feel colder than it is. I was going to the St. Patrick’s Day parade but remembered I have a movie date with a friend for the 2:10 show so I decided to hang around until then. I was on the deck earlier surveying the yard and Gracie was with me. She got up on the lounge chair. I figured she’s practicing for her summer naps. Poor Gracie has a long wait.

A few of the daffodils have buds, and I wanted to do a happy dance when I saw them. The buds are on the side of the house which gets the most sun. I think they are a hopeful sign.

Last night we watched the Red Sox play the Yankees in a spring training game. The starting pitcher and catcher were the only stalwarts. Most of the other players will be in AAA Pawtucket this year, but I knew many of them as they had spent some time with the Sox last summer when injuries decimated the team. It was so good to watch baseball, to  see a green infield and to hear the cracks of the bats. Summer can’t be all that far away. In case you were wondering, the Sox won.

I used to wear girls’ blue jeans when I was little. The zipper was in the pocket. They were denim, but I always thought them a lesser breed than boys’ dungarees. We always wore canvas sneakers as our play shoes. My brother wore boys’ sneakers. They were always Converse black high tops, but nobody called them that back then. They were just sneakers. Girls’ sneakers came in all sorts of colors, had narrow toes and were only ankle high. I always wore socks with my sneakers. I don’t remember ever wearing a sweatshirt back then. My brother had some. None had hoods. I wore sweaters as did every other girl my age. We wore dresses to all the big events and to church on Sunday. Slacks were worn for informal events. They were never called pants, just slacks. I don’t ever remember wearing sandals, and I know my brother and his friends would never have worn them. They’d have thought them sissy. During the summer, I wore shorts. My brother never did. It was that sissy thing again. He always wore his dungarees with a short sleeve jersey, his only wardrobe concession to summer. Boys wore shirts. Girls wore blouses. They didn’t look the same. Boys’ shirts had buttons on the opposite side of where girls’ blouses had buttons. I don’t know why, but it seems silly to me even now.

I wear sandals all summer and hooded sweatshirts around the house all winter. My pants have zippered fronts and I seldom wear a dress. I don’t know if its sartorial progress or not. I just know it’s far more comfortable being a girl than it used to be.