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Friday, February 12, 2010


My Grammie's birthday was yesterday. I meant to post this yesterday, but I got busy and distracted - and well, to be honest, I really had to think about what I should write.  She has been an influence on my life like no other and there isn't a day that I don't think about her.  She passed away unexpectedly shortly before my first wedding anniversary.  It was probably the most painful experience of my life so far.   Grammie was a lovely and classy lady.  She was raised in a different time and was the quintessential homemaker.  Although I've never watched the show, the images of January Jones as the housewife in Mad Men make me think of her.  The black and white photos we have of Grammie from the 50's and 60's are her dressed impeccably, posing with her children or her friends.  She wore the beautiful housedresses, pedal pushers and keds, etc., just like all the images of the women of those days.  I think the only time she ever dressed down was pool side.  Typically, every Friday, she would wash her hair in the morning, then she would set her hair in pink foam rollers and sit in the sun and let her hair dry.  As long as I can remember, this was her summer ritual.  I can still see her sitting back in one of the white patio chairs, feet propped up on a second chair, wearing a coral or yellow, or royal blue simple spaghetti strap tank suit, her hair in pink rollers, reading glasses on and a Harlequin Romance in her hands.  When we would get to the pool, she would dip her chin down, her eyebrows would raise and her big blue eyes peek out over her glasses.
  "Well, hello, Angel!"  she would exclaim - as if she hadn't just seen us the day before and like we didn't live 300 yards from her.  She was always happy to see us and she never cared that we just popped into her house whenever we felt like it.  

Grammie and Papa were very much in love, but they also had their ups and downs.   But they always forgave each other and got back to life how they liked it.  My most vivid memories of being with my grandparents are summer time memories or our vacations to Florida.  No doubt because I had nothing else going on in my life at those times and it is when I was with them most.   My Papa has his own business, and I remember going into the house at 11 each morning to get Papa's lunch ready. Papa has always had a garden and at night, after supper (promptly on the table at 5:30) he would go out to the garden and tend to it.  He would bring in fresh lettuce and if in season, tomatoes and other vegetables for a salad.  Grammie would use those ingredients to make a BIG salad for him the next day.  Usually topped with some Bacos - do they still make those? and slices of hard boiled egg and tomato.  He always ate a sweet and sour dressing that my Grammie bought from a local restaurant - The Dutch Pantry - or he would just use oil and vinegar dictated by his Italian roots.   They were very happy together and had a complicated and easy relationship.  They were the perfect compliment to each other.  He always said something along the lines of "No one else on the earth could compare. . .  unless Sophia Loren showed up at my door - then I might have some choices to make."

This photo is of me with them at their 25th Wedding Anniversary Party.  I was pretty young here - maybe going on four, and I don't remember much about the party.  I just remember that anytime we went to the Country Club with them (or any restaurant for that matter) Shirley Temples were at our fingertips within seconds.  I'm pretty sure that Shirley Temples were on the menu for that special day as well.

I know that a lot of my memories are tainted by the rose colored glasses that grandchildren typically have in regards to their grandparents.  I know that she had flaws and made mistakes, but there is so much about my Grammie that I remember and hope to emulate.  Her husband and family always came first.  She loved us all fiercely and wanted only the best for all of us.  She may not have always gone about it in the best way, but her heart was in the right place.  

To me, Grammie was soft pink kisses that stained your cheeks, a whiff of Chantilly Lace perfume, Harlequin Romance novels and stacks of VHS recordings of soap operas.  She was a lover of everything shiney and sparkely, diamonds, real or fake, big clip on earrings, a collection purses and shoes that required their own zipcode, but most importantly, she was LOVE.  She was our protector and encourager, a lady that went after what she wanted and taught us to never settle.  

Most importantly, no matter who was around, how busy she was, or what the circumstance, she made me feel like I was the most important thing to her because I was her First Angel Baby.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Seriously, There's Something Wrong With Me!

I know that everyone has their individual fashion woes. I'm sure that each individual feels that their particular fashion problem is the worst problem in fashion.

I beg to disagree with you all for I truly have The worst fashion problem in the world!
ALAS is the not-so-medical term for my condition. What is ALAS? Abnormally Long Arms Syndrome. It is a devastating fashion disease. The only symptom, abnormally long arms, is unfortunately incurable. A few years ago, I thought the Fashion industry had become sympathetic to the condition because three quarter length sleeves became the rage.
However, I soon discovered that once again, the designers were just making fashion statements, just as they refuse to acknowledge that Plus Size women want to dress in fashionable, well made clothing instead of velour housecoats,
elastic waisted, tapered leg, polyester dress pants in putrid shades of pastels,and T-shirts with Looney Tunes, Winnie the Pooh, or other ridiculously juvenile characters screen printed on them.  They were ignoring the plights of the many (or one person) suffering from ALAS. How do I know they were ignoring my condition? Because the trend of three quarter length coats became popular in our fashion, but the elbow length glove did not enter the fashion scene until just this past year - from what I can tell in the fashion epicenter of Western PA.

For now I will focus on ALAS as it is in the winter that I suffer most from this syndrome. Here is what a normal winter coat should look like on a person. Most of you won't need the illustration as you probably already have normal length arms so you know what it looks like. The cuff of the coat sleeve reaches the wrist and possibly hangs slightly below.Here is what a smartly dressed, normal length armed woman would look like out and about in the winter. See how the cuff of her coat arm adequately covers the wrist and leaves no exposed skin?

This is a picture of my arm outside the other day as I scraped the snow off the roof of my mini van.

Is that not ridiculous? I have a good 5 inches of arm exposed to the elements!

You suggest I just buy longer gloves. Easier said than done, my friends. My fingers are also unusually long, so finding gloves to fit are also difficult. My only consolation is that my fingers are skinny, so at least mens gloves are somewhat too big for my hands. Still, mens gloves are made short as well and since I'm not wearing a man's parka, the 5 inches of forearm are still exposed to the elements.

I was so excited this fall - Old Navy was selling the most adorable 3/4 length sleeve coat - but I had to pass it over because I could not find gloves that would cover my abnormal wing-span to make the coat look fashionable and care for me in the elements.  I can't even rely on long sleeved shirts to span the difference because long sleeve shirts are still about 2 inches short on my abnormally long arms.  

I wish Opera gloves would come back into style, but I have a feeling that those gloves were made for someone with delicate and dainty hands. I do not have delicate and dainty hands.

There you have it folks - my horrible disfigurement of ALAS and how I struggle to keep the five inches of skin on my forearms from suffering hypothermia.  Short of learning to knit or crochet, I'm not sure how I will ever remedy my situation.  Ski gloves can be helpful, but they are bulky and not very attractive accessories for dress coats.  There is no Abnormally Long Arms section of the department store and custom made gloves are outrageously expensive.

Feel my pain, won't you?  And try not to laugh at my disfigurement the next time you see me or someone like me.  We know we look ridiculous, we did look in the mirror and we are aware that our gloves do not meet our sleeves.  It is not a deliberate fashion faux paux.  It is a cruel twist of genetic fate. I have a dream that one day my daughter will be able to wear long sleeves with pride and freedom.

Then I will buy her all the adorable coats I wish I could have had.