Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bucket List? Wish List? To Do List? Doesn't Matter What You Call It, Just Do It...

     Back in August, I decided it was high time I slipped some thrills back into my life. Things were feeling dull and repetitive. I just couldn't get excited about each new day. Without hesitation, I started a list of things I've always wanted to do, but have kept pushing to the back burner. It's amazing what power the simple act of writing something down for all to see can have.

     Within weeks, I found myself behind a tow plane being lifted into the sky near Winston Salem, about to be released to experience my first glider ride. If you have never been soaring, you cannot imagine the heart pounding exhilaration. What a sensation!

     September has been a quiet month spent pressing my nose to the grindstone, doing my best to make a few bucks, a percentage of which I now stash into my wish jar. There were a couple possibilities on my list bubbling for October. I wanted to be ready just in case. You never know what will fall into your lap once you've set the wheels into motion.  
     Sure enough, I have somehow convinced my brother to go on an excursion with me. We haven't done anything together since the sixties besides meet at family gatherings, weddings, birthdays and funerals. It is high time we got reacquainted with each other. What better way to connect the old bonds than to spend four days and nights together, sharing a tiny cabin and first winds of autumn on the deck of a sail boat. That's right! My brother and I are going to be guest crew aboard the Liberty Clipper, as she begins her trip south for the winter with a schooner race in the Chesapeake Bay. I've always wanted to sail aboard one of the tall ship, and we'll be among fifty or so ships making their way from Baltimore, Maryland to Portsmouth, Virginia. I feel sure there will be stories to tell. And from what they tell me, a wonderful blue crab dinner the first night, served up with many new friendships. 

     As if that weren't enough for one month, a dear friend of mine notice zip-lining on my Bucket List. One thing has lead to another, and come the end of October, we three old amigos will be zipping through the fall canopy near Hanging Rock, North Carolina. You can just imagine the whoooo hooooos, laughs and giggles echoing through the forest as we take our first plunge. What a hoot it will be. I expect the picnic lunch we share afterwards, and many lunches in the future, will be just as much fun for the memories. 

     At a certain point in your life, you finally appreciate that you have worked hard and have paid your dues. There is no point in waiting any longer to do the things there was no time or money for in your younger years. Realizing there are fewer days ahead than there are behind, is to understand the value of each. You have earned your rewards, and now it is time to indulge yourself. Make that list, set aside your fun money, and get on with your dreams. Do it while there's still time to tell the tale! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shock Me. Are Women Today Bored With Sweet Romance?

Volume I of the Fifty Shades Trilogy
     In a recent email chat with my niece, she boasted she is reading during every spare moment, day and night. She proclaimed that she is absolutely enthralled with a trilogy of books she simply can not put down. I must admit to being a bit surprised, and delighted. After all, this is the niece who could barely sit still long enough to flip through a magazine in her teens, much less as a young wife and mother, free moments being few and far between. What could possibly have her reading with such gusto? I immediately thought of vampires, but she said no.

     Like thousands of other young women across the country, my niece is reading the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James. Admittedly, I've heard the buzz and the off color jokes on late night TV about these books, but really haven't given them much thought. In fact, until my niece's rave review I haven't had the slightest bit of interest. She peaked my curiosity. On her recommendation, I immediately went to and ordered not just the first book, but the three-volume set. 

1956 Shocker Peyton Place
by Grace Metalious
     I've always thought of myself as open minded and savvy to the ways of the world, but I have to tell you that for the first time in years, and barely a third of the way into Fifty Shades of Grey, I am stunned. This is not the juicy romance I was expecting. It is a frighteningly dark and dangerous tale of intimidation, the seduction of wealth and power, sadistic manipulation and domination. I'm shocked to think that this is what my sweet niece, and other young women like her find sexy and exciting. As I read on my instincts cried out to the innocent Anastasia Steele, "Run, Baby run!" I closed the book and tossed the entire collection aside as a pathetic waste of my time and money.

1963 book The Group  by Mary McCarthy was
considered so scandalous
it was banned in Australia
     What distresses me more than the content of these disturbing books is my concern for the emotional well-being of the young women who find something so dark, so enticing. Granted, when I was young the hot novels of time were certainly tame by comparison, but considered quite scandalous just the same. I do realize that the shock factor is relative to ever evolving social trends and morality of the moment. However, my alarm here is in regard to the dangerous allure and power of money, pain and humiliation these books romanticize. I don't find this sexy at all. I find it justifiable reason for worry. 

1966 book and movie 
Valley of the Dolls
by Jacqueline Susann
     Over lunch recently I asked a group of thirty-something career women what they thought about the Fifty Shades Trilogy. After a few giggles and blushing cheeks, one woman admitted that she didn't finish reading the first book because it made her uncomfortable. This is encouraging to me. The other two ladies confessed they read all three, but not so much because they found them stimulating. They were reading them because it is so much fun tweeting and chatting with their friends about the forbidden content. This too gives me hope. Discussion is a good thing. I remember girl talks with my friends when we read the eyebrow-raising books of our generation. All considered just as scandalous by our elders (It is truly unnerving to realize I am in the "elders" category now).

1971 buzz book
The Happy Hooker
by Xaviera Hollander
     None the less, I have to believe that by bringing up taboo topics, these books might actually help the reader make moral judgements in their own lives. Having discussions with friends about prohibited issues allows the opportunity to test the waters, to weigh the opinions of others, without having to take the actual plunge. If reading one of these books does nothing more than make one consider what their own action might be in a similar situation, then these books could be an important tool for teaching moral character. I certainly hope so.
1996 outrage book
Sex And The City
by Candace Bushnell
became the popular TV series
     For me, I suppose I have lived long enough to have learned my lessons, and have long since formed my opinions about right and wrong, as well as the importance of sexual dignity. I no longer find reading about the journey to get there entertaining. Still, I am glad to know younger generations are being shocked enough to read more, and that they are talking to each other about it. No matter what is being read, it is promising to know there is discussion, that there is something scandalous enough to warrant conversation among peers in this anything-goes world of ours.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And The Winner Is... ME?

There is no greater thrill than hearing ones name called out at a raffle or an award dinner, a silent auction or these days, in print on a favorite blog site giveaway. I've never been one to buy a lottery ticket or throw a few dollars into a football pool. I think twice before putting my hard earned coins into a slot machine, despite vacationing near a casino, and I rarely enter contests or competitions.

      It's not so much the risk that makes me hesitate, as it is the grave disappointment of not winning. The possibility of being a winner sets my imagination into such a frenzy of dreams and visualizations I am hopelessly lost in fantasy. Before I even buy a ticket or send in my entry, I have already spent hours envisioning my delight when accepting the award, or the ways I'll be spending my winnings, or exactly where I'll be placing my trophy. Silly me. I project so far into the future that there is simply no need to go through the actual event. It's a lot like dating. While the possibilities seem hopeful, the reality in the end is inevitable heartache.

"You can't win if your don't play... "

     None the less, from time to time I throw my name into the hat, usually because the prize is some luxury I'd love to have but would never indulge in for myself. I remember years ago in the early 70's when my husband was stationed at Fort Rucker, Alabama for flight training, we were regulars at the weekly bingo games at the officer club. We didn't go because we loved bingo, but because the grand prizes were so fantastic. A Winnebago travel trailer, a Cessna airplane, a new car. Imagining what we would do with one of those incredible prizes was worth hours of entertainment, especially for a financially strapped young family anticipating deployment to Viet Nam. It was worth the investment just to get our minds focused on something so loaded with hope and possibility. Our lucky wasn't the best, but we did win an electric blanket on night. More recently, I put an extra high bid on a beautiful set of hand thrown pottery bowls at a silent charity auction, primarily because I believed in the cause, but also because I loved the bowls. Sadly for me but good for the charity, someone else loved them more.

     Recently, I entered a weekly giveaway on one of my favorite blogs, My French Country HomeThe site features enticing photos of the French country side, along with the author's finds at brocantes, markets and antique shops for her on-line store. It's one of my favorite daydreaming sites. This particular giveaway was for a pair of vintage linen pillow covers from Atelier Be , another favorite on-line shop and blog presenting a wonderful collection of vintage European textiles. Both sites are loaded with all the things I crave, but simply can't justify at the moment. When I read Sharon's post this weekend, I had to go back and read it a second time. There was my name, right there on the screen, announcing that I was the winner of the weekly giveaway! ME! I simply can't believe my good fortune.

     Now I must choose my favorite two pillow covers from the Atelier Be collection! Pictured here are some of my preferences. But, I remain undecided. With so many to choose from, I've opted to let owner and artist Jess Chauvot de Beauchene surprise me. Now I can spend a few more hours imagining my wonderful prize and where I will display my new pillows. Take a look at the styles shown below and the entire collection on her website, and tell me which designs you would chose.

     What fun it is to finally be a winner! I think I'm inspired now to try my luck with a lottery ticket...
French Country Vintage Linen Gain
 Sack Pillow Cover/Atelier Be
1877 German Grain Sack Pillow on
Vintage French Linen/Atelier Be
Le Mouton - European Grain Sack
Cushion Cover/Atelier Be

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Art Is Food For the Soul, and Like Fresh Produce From a Local Market, Fine Art is Well Within Reach.

Fashion Icon Iris Apfel

       "Life Is Gray. How You Live It, Is What Adds The Color."      

     Having recently celebrated her 91st birthday, the subject of a new documentary by Maysles Films, and completing a new collection of handbags and jewelry, Iris Apfel can hardly be accused of living a colorless life. Obvious throughout her decades of success as a leader in interior and textile design, fashion for Iris is food for the soul and fuel for a long active life. Recently featured on Advanced Style, I found Ms. Apfel's example to be an inspiration for colorful living.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum UNCG

     After years in the apparel and home furnishings industries, I often find myself feeling a style void these days. While I am still dabbling on the sidelines of home design, I miss the excitement of attending seasonal markets, spotting new directions in decor, watching budding young talent take center stage, keeping my finger on the pulse of lifestyle trends and changing styles. I do my best to stay current reading prominent periodicals, following industry blogs and trend leaders, but I still miss feeling the currents of change, following my instincts and making my own delicious discoveries. 

Painting by noted Greensboro Artist Denise Landi

     How do I tap into that river of creativity from my current, somewhat isolate, vantage point? Thanks to the recent invitation from a friend to attend a local art opening, my dilemma has been delightfully illuminated. There is a teaming world of art and design going on in nearly every community these days. I had forgotten the power of work produced right under my nose, and I'm adding participation in local arts to my Bucket List. I intend to take every advantage of area museums, exhibits, and galleries on a more regular basis. Whether it's a day trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Green Hill Gallery, or one of the charming small galleries on South Elm Street, I believe at the very least a monthly meal of fine art may be exactly the food my hungry soul longs for.
Artist Alice Bachman Exhibits her work in a downtown gallery