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UnknownThere I was, driving along the byway, “The Rosie Project” on audio, mentally clicking off the things I needed to do, didn’t get done, or would rather be doing, when I saw the pair of black slacks and equally monochromatic shell sitting primly on the passenger seat. I meant to take these items to the cleaners on Monday, and here it was, Wednesday. A quick right. A quick left and a parking space. I whipped out my wallet, grabbed my monochromatic clutch of garments, waddled across the parking lot – and right into Payless Shoes.

Huh? Shoes?

It was just one of those days when my mind stayed home while the rest of me was out to lunch.

Around I turned, to the quizzical stares of the shoe clerk restocking shoeboxes, and continued my Aunt Jemima Puddle Duck waddle into the cleaners, where there was, of course, a long line.

There is always a long line at high noon.

Taking my place in the queue, I tapped my toes to the bouncy, iron pressing music, counting it as my day’s exercise, and inhaled the cleaning fumes, which surely made my brain foggy for when my turn at the checker came up, and she sweetly asked for my phone number, I went blank. BLANK!  The fog of steam eroding my cranium.  I could not remember my phone number. The sweet but clueless girl looked slightly bemused. Honestly, who am I to call her clueless? We stared at each other. “Now, wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait;  I seem to be having one of THOSE days” as I gave her my name, which was surely in the computer. Aha. Just then a phone number popped into my newly fumed brain. “Er, try . . . ” which she did while I inwardly cringed, for I’ve been known to give out my sister’s phone number instead of my own, which my sister finally realized after several months of odd messages from hair stylists and the doctors’ offices looking for Penny or Penelope. That is a story for another day, friend, for this day has a page of its own.

My pants and shell were whisked off to be cleaned, my receipt was firmly in hand, I muttered an “Ach, Columbus” – and off I went to wherever was I going next, which was really not where I was supposed to be.

So it goes on these monochromatic days, here along the Cutoff.

 

 

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MagicofOrdinaryDaysth copyth-2th-3th

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Happy Valentine’s Day.

What are some of your favorite love stories?

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Checking out the “chipper chicken” in the middle refrigerated case of Marianno’s, I heard someone calling from across the case . ” .. .enny, I haven’t seen you in years, how are you?“.

She was looking at me, gesticulating gleefully, as one tends to do upon a chance encounter with someone from their past.  “Do you like your new house?”.  She was talking to me.

I had absolutely no idea who she was.

I’ve lived a life where more people seem to know me than I them. It is what it is. I’ve learned to roll with it. I can have a conversation with a hard boiled egg.

Yes. Love it, but, miss my friends and neighbors of so many years“.

We miss you too.”

Pause. Smiles. Chicken choices.

I don’t think I know you. I thought you were an old neighbor.”

“It happens” I said.  “I’ve done it myself.”

Someone chuckled behind me: a kindred spirit who had likely been on either side of such a conversation herself; or, was it the butcher? We laughed, the two of us, strangers in the supermarket  – and proceeded to chat for fifteen minutes. We set the world right, as women all over are wont to do whilst shopping for their evening’s supper.  Has this ever happened to you?

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DSCN7068“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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092114molesleyhairdye-1411337346“Can you please keep Molesley in the kitchens until his hair stops turning blue.”

Lord Grantham to Carson – regarding Mr. Molesley’s hair.

With all the societal changes, turmoil, aristocratic “airs”, a fire, and the juicy verbal jabs of Lady Violet, good old Joseph Molesley’s attempts to appeal to m’lady’s maid, Baxter, provides some comic relief at Downton.  For all his bumbling and missteps, Moselsey is a kind and good man who just wants to make a decent wage, be liked and appreciated, and, to have someone to love.

Of course, I may be partial to his strands of hair, for I have had my own horrors with hair treatments.

Who can forget Moseley’s wild highland dancing in Scotland – after he unknowingly downs a spiked drink meant for the sour O’Brien – or his awkward responses as Carson grudgingly offers him a much-needed job as a footman?  Then, there was his crummy cricket caper. Poor old Molesley; he fumbles and bumbles, upstairs and down, a footman after all, still trying to please his father and catch m’lady’s maid.

Of course, there was much, much more ado at Downtown. Moseley’s hairy problems are just a tinge of what went on for those of us here on the west coast of the Big Pond just catching the new season here.  Did any of you watch Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey?

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Vilhelm_Hammershoi_Danish_Artist_1864_1916_Rest_1905

There we were, just this New Year’s Eve morning, sitting upon the couch watching “Razzle to Dazzle: Hair”, a fashion segment on the Today Show.  One of those trendy hairstyles, adorned by some starlet or other, to top off one’s New Year’s Eve “do”, was being fashioned. This was a braided assembly that looked rather like the one pictured here in Vilhelm Hammershoi’s painting; a braided crown all squished and tousled and Pippi Longstocking-ish – until the icing on the hairball, er hairdo, which was a spritz (or two or three) of spray glitter.

Actually, the glitter looked like a bit of fun, which I said aloud, and my dear husband countered, “Yeah, like Tan . . . “! and I took the rest of the words right out of his mouth.

Dear reader, by now you must know that there is always another story in my apron pocket. A story to amaze, astonish, astound. A Perils of Penelope sort of December tale.

So, it begins, as many fairy tales begin, with . . .

Once upon a time, a frazzled young mother of two was breathlessly primping. She had endured a full day of Saturday chores; Christmas preparations, ballet class for one,  a new pair of shoes for the other (or some such scenario), along with finding a present for a holiday Rotary gift exchange at the annual party that evening.

Those Rotary Christmas parties were fun, though we often huffed and puffed to get there. Tom’s Rotary Club was small, but, they did amazing things to provide scholarship and local community support, as well as contribute to the bigger Rotarian agenda across the globe. Their annual Christmas party was usually held at a member’s home and was filled with good cheer, good food, lively conversation, and fellowship.

After my hectic day, I took a shower and went through the rituals of getting all “dolled up” for the party. My holiday shoes, which are depicted here, were waiting for me to slip my tired toes into, as well as a glittery accoutrement of some sort to dazzle my ears or my neckline. Is this beginning to sound Cinderalla – ish?

All clean and scented, I dried and curled my hair in that ‘pouf of a do” that was popular in the Dallas decade of fashion. Our daughters, so young, marched in and out with questions and pleas and the sort of interruptions that youngsters are apt to bring when mothers are in their own frenzied moments. Finally, all gussied up, I sprayed my locks in place and went to our room to get dressed.

I did wonder an aside to myself about why the hair spray had a different fragrance – and why my hair was still a bit wet.

I wondered, but carried on, all dressed up with somewhere to go, when Tom came in, holding a spray can, wondering, innocently, aloud “Was someone using this?”.

He saw the look of panic on my face, the unnatural sheen on my crown of flagging curls, and smelled the encroaching scent of a stable.

With no time to lose, we needed to get out the door, for we were bringing appetizers. Near tears, I thought of employing the hair drier, but, really, would my hair dry or catch on fire? I determinedly combed down my mane, now sleek and shiny, and out the door we trotted.

My friends, I smelled like a manger. My hair shone like never before. I glowed.

While no one cared to sit next to me, they relished the tale as I told it. Tom kept his distance, knowing he would have to take his old mare home, hoping she wasn’t combustible. As we all ate and imbibed and participated in the gift grab bag game, a few women quietly queried where they could buy Tan Your Hide* – which was originally purchased to clean a leather purse, but, ended up not on some hide but in my hair. Really, friends, this is how fast celebrity status happens.

Antler Man and My Pretty Pony on a carpet of snow.

So, dear ones, as I turn my back on 2014, it is with the wishes of a happy and healthy New Year to you, and that may you always find a reason to laugh.

*(Tan Your Hide was an aerosol product used for cleaning leather products.)

Unknown

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Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!

Ah, but I did catch him. I spied him hiding in between vintage china and gently used baubles on a table in one of the booths of the La Grange Antique Mall, looking DSCN6955 - Version 2rather handsome with a plaid ascot around his chubby brown neck. Right then and there, before he could run away, I snatched him up, thinking he might feel right at home on a plaid tablecloth tucked in away in drawer.

As I roamed about the mall, I eyed a small plastic bag filled with tiny boxes wrapped in plaid paper and gold ribbon and an idea for a holiday tablescape was born.Santa holding gingerbread

Over the next few weeks, as I wrapped presents, baked goodies, adorned the trees and tabletops, little bits of plaid pleasure emerged, including a box that Dottie and Rick gave us last Christmas, with a Santa glittered and garbed in PLAID! It wasn’t until I placed the jolly old elf on the table that I realized he was carrying two gingerbread men.

How fortunate it was to then remember a simple candle idea I had actually bookmarked. I mentioned it to my Antler Man whose mind was in sync with mine. Lickety split, up he came from the root cellar, carrying a box of small canning jars.

Penelope's ProgressOn and on it went; Penelope’s progress in pursuit of plaid. The cloth was laid and a cookie tin appeared. Cranberries rolled out of the refrigerator. The little plaid napkins I purchased at T.J. Maxx for half off of half off of the price some long ago Christmas past found their way to the table as well.

The pièce de résistance was to be had among my collection of Penny Books. Rather vain, I know, but, really, with a name like Penelope, books with my name in the title are few and far between. There, sitting atop my dresser, was none other that “Penelope’s Progress” clothed in a tartan wrap. A bit of irony is that I discovered it many moons ago in very same antique mall where I captured the gingerbread man.

It is nice, is it not, when a little light shines into our lives, gifting us in the simple pleasures among the rescued treasures along this road we call life?

 I hope you all had a merry little Christmas and for those of you celebrating Boxing Day today, enjoyment. Wherever your heart and spirit is, I hope a little light shines – and you catch your own gingerbread man.

Candle Jar

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