Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Halloween

All Hallows Eve is fast approaching and with it many memories of Halloween's past. I wish I had a picture of myself dressed in my Halloween garb as a child but, alas, none exist. I can tell you this, it was always a momentous night filled with C-A-N-D-Y. Yes, in bold and all caps!

Two things always come to mind when Halloween rolls around, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Let’s start with….

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door
-Only this, and nothing more.'

As you know, this is just the first stanza or verse of The Raven, it is actually quite lengthy, haunting and gothic. But I love to read it every year. Though not related to Halloween but just as romantic and gothic is Poe’s…

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;--
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my Annabel Lee--
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

I can remember reading and reciting this poem in the fourth or fifth grade. Annabel Lee is another favorite Poe poem of my mine. Is it no wonder that I was attracted to gothic novels like Jane Eyre at an early age? I sometimes felt I was born out of sync with time.

But in stark contrast to these heavy hearted poems is Charlie Brown, that round headed kid. Here’s a closely held family secret… long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, long before I even knew Charlie Brown existed, I had a cousin whose nickname was not just Charlie but Charlie Brown. Yes, the whole enchilada! Let me tell you it was quite startling to realize one day that his name was really Stephen!

Charlie Brown, not again!

I can’t wait to watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown one more time. You know Charlie Brown should know better when it comes to Lucy and that football, Snoopy will be flying on his Sopwith Camel, Linus will be writing a letter to the Great Pumpkin telling him it's not his fault Santa Claus gets more publicity, Sally’s going to go on her rant at being cheated out of tricks and treats, and the gang all end up at Violet’s house for a Halloween party.

Great Pumpkin: 0 Beagle: 1

This third Charlie Brown special first aired October 27, 1966 on CBS and pre-empted My Three Sons! ABC picked up the rights to the special beginning in 2001.

Whoo-Hoo - party at Violet's!

Eeeeewwww, dog germs!

A little rememberence of Halloween past

Something for the girls!

I wish you Happy Hauntings!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Leaving so soon?

IT’S been a long time coming. IT’S been lying folded in a see-through plastic storage box in the closet for at least one year where I would catch an occasional glimpse of IT. IT was previously relegated to the back of the closet and not worn for at least one year. IT was enjoyed immensely and frequently worn for at least two years during the winter months. IT has now moved to the donation box and will soon find IT'S way to Goodwill. Here IT is:

It’s my black wool check skirt with a little fringe hem. How I loved wearing it. It was usually paired with black tights and a black turtle neck sweater, my favorite way to wear it. I’d pair it with a shawl or a scarf; it was like a winter uniform for me. After years of Catholic school I felt right at home in it. Our school uniform was a woolen pleated skirt worn in the tropical, humid weather of Hawaii. Whose brilliant idea was that? But back to my skirt, it represented cold, mainland winter weather to me. I was living some sort of winter wonderland fantasy whenever I wore it. Imagine if I lived in someplace like Michigan or Chicago!

Well, lately I had begun to think perhaps the length was a little short for me, and to be completely honest, it didn’t fit like it used to if you get my drift. Also the phrase “age appropriate” began to raise its ugly head which I imagine to look like a three-headed hydra. I am sure this has happened to you…you’re walking in back of someone, she looks great from behind, long hair swinging, nice figure, dressed in a short denim skirt and body skimming tank top, shapely legs and all of a sudden she turns around and…OMG! Well, I didn’t want that to happen to me so my favorite skirt is headed for someone else to make good use of.

Goodbye, old friend, breaking up is hard to do.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gilda Radner

My first review at was Gilda Radner's book, It's Always Something.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the fabulous Gilda, I'd like to share the review with you.

Gilda Radner, an original member of Saturday Night Live, died of ovarian cancer at the age of 42 in 1989. Radner was best known for a number of zany characters she created on that ground breaking show including the obnoxious Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella the substitute teacher, and the nerdy Lisa Loopner to Bill Murray’s equally nerdy Todd.

Back in May of this year, Simon & Schuster released a 20th anniversary edition of Radner’s memoir, It’s Always Something, in which she reflects on her life, illness and her determination to continue living life on the sunny side. Alan Zweibel, who writes the new forward, says “Gilda told me, ‘My comedy is my only weapon against this thing.’”

Radner chronicles the health problems that began to plague her while filming Haunted Honeymoon in 1986 with her husband, the comedic actor Gene Wilder. After months of misdiagnoses, she learned she had ovarian cancer. Radner goes through a sundry list of why’s and maybes and what if’s but sometimes cancer doesn’t need any good reason why.

Upon successful chemo and radiation treatment, Radner began work on her memoir, It’s Always Something, a tip to her character Roseanne Rosannadanna. Through her book, Radner hoped to imbue other cancer patients with a sense of humor, courage and hope. Sadly in 1988 she learned her cancer had returned. On May 17, 1989 Radner was admitted to the hospital for a CAT Scan and died three days later on May 20, 1989 just two months before the release of her book.

Zweibel says that toward the end of her life, Radner was on a crusade to show people that cancer patients could live quality lives if they have the right attitude, and “I think she would have been incredibly pleased that this was part of her legacy and that her campaign and her memory still lives on.”

Gilda as Emily Litella on Weekend Update with Chevy Chase

Gilda embodies the 70's for me. One of my favorite quotes from Gilda is this gem for the fashionista in all of us: I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch. Great advice!

October is
Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so please consider this a shout out, in case you forgot or have been avoiding, to give your doctor a call and make an appointment for a mamogram.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

She's All That - Debbie Peavy

Name: Debbie Peavy

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Debbie in Dinan, France in front of the old city walls

A brief history of your fabulous self: I grew up with dreams of becoming a veterinarian, but when my own vet let me observe a few times, I decided I would just have lots of pets! I became a teacher instead and taught high school French for 34 years. I tried living in France for a year in the Lorraine region, but discovered that I can’t be that far away from my family. I am now retired and live with my four cats who act as my staff on my blog. I am a divorced mother of one daughter, 29 years old, who is married to a wonderful man. I have a 9-year-old grandson and another little grandson on the way! I love gardening, reading, blogging and “Goodwill hunting” for thrifting finds.

What’s on your To Do List: My grandson and I have a trip to France planned for his 11th birthday. The highlight will be a visit to Monet’s garden in Giverny. He has been a big fan of Monet’s work since kindergarten thanks to a wonderful art teacher! I can’t wait to show him Monet’s water lilies in person!

We never would have guessed: My home is decorated in French country style…probably not a surprise…but you might be surprised to know that much of it came from bargain shopping and thrift store finds. I have found beautiful chairs, hand painted pottery, old ironstone pieces, wonderful table linens and antique flatware. It is unbelievable what people give away!!

What would you tell your 20 year old self: I would tell myself to relax and stop being such a little people pleaser. Turning 50 gave me permission at last to stop worrying so much about what other people think of me and to enjoy my life!

Favorite childhood memory: My mother took my sister and me on a wonderful picnic…in our backyard! I still remember the apple print on what would now be considered a vintage tablecloth with grass peeking up through a little hole. My mother taught us how to identify the birds nearby from their songs. It felt like we were worlds away!

Last book read or movie seen: I recently saw the movie Julie & Julia! Of course, the scenes in France were wonderful, but I loved seeing Julia Child reinvent herself later in life! I think that is something that we women have the ability to do…turn our lives in a new direction and continue to live life to its fullest!

Debbie & pal Ozzie

What’s your favorite time of day: My favorite time of day is dusk. I love to walk around in my garden, enjoying the fragrance of my favorite flowers. I especially enjoy the heirloom flowers that I saved from my mother and grandmother’s gardens. I feel connected to them through these special plants. I have shared them with my sister and daughter and I hope that the tradition will continue.

Debbie doesn't call her blog Confessions of a Plate Addict for nothing! Here's a playful excerpt from her very first post...

Hi all! My name is Debbie and I am a plate addict. I used to be a relatively normal person...I used my plates for eating just like everyone else. It never occurred to me to hang them on the wall. I had no particular fascination for faience or transferware or Quimperware...I don't know if I knew what they were. Then I made a life-changing decision...I moved to France. It seemed the natural thing to do for an aging French teacher...LOL! That is where I discovered PLATES!

You can also follow Debbie on Twitter!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fab Girls of the 60s: Brit Singers

The British Invasion of the 60s introduced millions of young Americans to mega hit Brit wonders like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many others. I remember landing at JFK, an impressionable 13 year old, thinking the Beatles were here! But there were also a number of successful female vocalists we were introduced to as well. And here are a few that are unforgettable…

Marianne Faithfull

Just out of convent school Marianne Faithfull performed folk music in nearby coffeehouses. She soon found herself with a number one hit record As Tears Go By written by
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Unfortunately her life did not follow a rose strewn path. Faithfull’s success as a singer and actress were overshadowed by her personal history littered with drug addiction, a hard partying lifestyle and illness. In the 60s her voice, soft and feathery, became over time more like hard whiskey. But in this clip you can see her as I saw her then, sweet and fresh faced, a little awkward in front of the camera, vulnerable and I'm sure, full of dreams.

Sandie Shaw

Sandie Shaw’s first single did not do well on the charts but her second Always Something There to Remind Me, a
Burt Bacharach tune, spent three weeks in the number one spot of the British Charts. Sandie’s other chart breaking song was Puppet on a String. She was noted for performing in her bare feet and her 1991 autobiography was titled The World at My Feet. Sandie left performing and went on to become a psychotherapist. In 2007 on her 60th birthday she released a new version of Puppet on a String for her fans.

Cilla Black was discovered by Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager and her success as an artist lasted longer than any other Epstein client other than the Beatles! She became a formidable ballad singer but before that Cilla worked part-time as a cloackroom attendant at Liverpool’s infamous Cavern Club. She was introduced to Epstein by John Lennon who persuaded him to audition her. Her first single peaked at #35 not a very auspicious beginning but her second single Anyone who Had a Heart reached #1 in Britain. She followed up with a second #1 You’re My World. During the 70s Cilla began acting in British sitcom and eventually worked as a TV presenter on many popular British TV shows.

Dusty Springfield

I was a big fan of Dusty Springfield’s look, especially her eyes. In 1963 Dusty started racking up number 1 hits with I Only Want to Be With You, I just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, Wishin’ and Hopin’ and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. Dusty toured South Africa in 1964 and was deported due to the fact she was performing in front of mixed audiences. In 1967 her rendition of The Look of Love, a Bacharach and David tune, was featured in the film Casino Royale and was nominated for an Academy Award. The sublime LP, Dusty in Memphis was released in 1969 and included the hit Son of a Preacher Man. In the 80s Dusty was persuaded to record a duet with the Pet Shop Boys, What Have I Done to Deserve This, which became a huge hit. In 1994 Dusty was diagnosed with breast cancer and although she went into remission she succumbed to the disease in 1999 on the day she was to receive an OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.


Who didn’t fall in love with Lulu in
To Sir With Love? I was a huge fan of the movie (I have the VHS tape) and Lulu herself. She was just so energetic and full of life and a singer-songwriter, actress, model and TV personality. She is most well known for the songs To Sir With Love in the US and Shout in the UK. Lulu was only 15 when she recorded Shout. Lulu married singer Maurice Gibb but the couple divorced on amicable terms in 1973. In 1974 she recorded the title song for the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. In 1977 she married her hairdresser John Frieda and had a son Jordan. The couple divorced in 1995. Lulu has appeared as herself in two episodes of Absolutely Fabulous and has teamed with French and Saunders many times. She appeared on American Idol Season 6 in March 2007 as a mentor for the female contestants, and the following night performed To Sir With Love.

I can remember driving my mother crazy playing my 45 rpm single of My Boy Lollipop over and over and over again. It was such a happy, upbeat song and Millie Small had the most unusual voice! Millie Small was originally from Jamaica where she had a minor hit record. She moved to London in 1964 and released My Boy Lollipop which initially sold over 600,000 copies and reached number two in the UK and US charts. The song has since sold more than seven million copies. She had a brief relationship with Peter Asher, one-half of the successful duo Peter and Gordon, and the brother of actress Jane Asher (Paul McCartney’s girlfriend in the 60s).

Stay tuned for Fab Girls of the 60s: Fashion Models.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Space, the Final Frontier

I was thumbing through the August issue of Vanity Fair when I came across an ad for Louis Vuitton that intrigued me. So much so that I had to visit their website. First of all, here's the picture that fascinated me so...

The photographer is Annie Leibovitz for Louis Vuitton's Journeys campaign.

You have to view this picture on line or in the magazine to fully appreciate it. When I was a child my favorite color crayon was Periwinkle Blue. Blue is still my favorite color and the different variations you see in the sky are magnificent from deep indigo to a powder blue with twinkling stars in the background and a moon so full and luscious, like a fruit ripe for picking.

What I also find striking is that the three astronauts, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11, first steps on the moon; Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 commander, are posed on a beat up relic of a truck gazing at the moon lost in thought. Sally Ride looks like she's even in "lift off" mode. They look like everyday, ordinary folks dressed in an American uniform of denim, corduroy and boots. They are probably somewhere in Wyoming, Montana or maybe somewhere in the desert with a gentle desert wind blowing through their hair. Do you see Jim Lovell holding on to a cowboy hat? I love it, back in the 60s he was holding on to an astronaut's helmet.

There are so many things to discover in this photograph that it literally makes me want to cry. I can't remember Annie Liebovitz ever affecting me this way. In this photo are three people who share one thing in common that most of us will never experience. For me that's mind blowing.

I love science fiction and science fact and find the thought of space exploration exciting. I do remember President Kennedy's 1962 speech on the space challenge. Later, in 1969 I remember the moon landing and these words from Neil Armstrong: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed. and then astoundingly as his left foot touched the moon's surface, Armstrong declared: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Do you know that Armstrong did not have a speech prepared, it all came out spontaneously. His fellow astronauts questioned him repeatedly but he let the moment move him.

I'm not embarrassed to say that back in '69 my younger self wondered if the astronauts were going to come face-to-face with aliens! Well, I am a child of Star Trek after all. Come on, didn't you wonder yourself?

Buzz Aldrin's first steps on the moon

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Say it Isn't So!

Awhile ago, I was having a phone conversation with my friend Sandi who was bemoaning the fact that besides getting older, life has now dealt her saggy knees. She misses wearing shorts and we both said a silent prayer of thanks that the BoHo look is in these days. I continued listening and was doing my best at lending a sympathetic ear until I took a look south to my own knees and…HOLY CRAP…MARY, MOTHER OF GOD… my knees were sagging too! When in the world did that happen?

To quote Cher "I hate getting old. What can I tell you? I'm sorry." I agree. I wish I could be more gracious about it but I’m not digging it either! Oprah can own “it” all she wants but look, it’s not that I want to be 20 again but the saggy knee thing is not working for me. It’s all so... I Feel Bad About my Neck, Nora Ephron’s book on dealing with menopause, maintenance and other delightful female conditions. As a lot, we have been known to spare no expense when it comes to lotions, potions and hair dye. (I'm doing a silent prayer to L'Oreal as we speak!) But, and I kid you not, there is now a surgical procedure called a knee lift!

Lucky for those us not caught up in cosmetic surgery, I have discovered crop pants! Listen, they've been around for a long time BUT they're the perfect solution to the whole shorts dilemma. And you don’t have to break the bank to own a pair. You can dress them up with heels for work or you can get casual with them at a BBQ. Call them what you will, crop pants, capris, the old school clam diggers or pedal pushers, this item was the HOT trend for Spring 2009. I know the capri has gone in and out of fashion since the 50’s but since I am a casual dresser anyway, I love them and they suit my lifestyle and the SoCal weather perfectly. And, despite what I’ve read, I think crop pants work on a variety of shapes and sizes; it just depends on the silhouette.

Case in point, Laura Petrie's Capri Pants...

In the spring of 1965, Time magazine reported that "Mary Tyler Moore has helped make Capri pants the biggest trend in US casual attire." The Capri pants were inspired by the island of Capri off the coast of Italy.

Many Americans toured the area on vacations in the 1950s and the islanders traditional mid-calf pant style soon made its debut on the American fashion landscape. The longer, ankle-length version was dubbed the ‘cigarette pant.’

On the sitcom THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW/CBS/1961-66 Mary Tyler Moore played Laura Petrie, the young suburban housewife of comedy writer Robert Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) who wore Capri pants on a number of episodes.

Capris certainly worked for the lovely Audrey Hepburn!

And while you are searching out the best capri length for yourself, here is ode to a part of the anatomy we don't give much thought to until one day...well, you know the story!

Ode to Saggy Knees

I used to jump rope, climb trees and ice skate
Though I often fell down and got a good scrape
Things have slowed down now and knees are still useful
a great place for Sadie to rest her head, ah so peaceful

Ok, I never claimed to be a poet but perhaps you are. Send me your ode to saggy knees and maybe Sadie will share some tea and doggie biscuits with you.