Free clothes from the clothing swap

Last March I posted about free clothes I got at a women’s clothing swap. The local yoga studio hosted it and it was welcome to anyone (not just customers/practitioners) and I had an excellent, fruitful time. I really like the idea of women gathering for a swap; the comradery is fun and it’s more personal than simply dropping your unwanted clothes off somewhere (which I still do frequently). At the time the owner said she planned to do it again in September but when September came and went I thought maybe the idea had fallen by the wayside. I’d started putting (nicer) things for another swap aside immediately after the last one and had a full bag.  Happily, the owner advertised on a community Facebook group that another swap was scheduled for this past Friday evening. Since I had plenty of notice, I went through my clothes again and filled another bag to share. I have come to think of my wardrobe as something I both curate and cull.

This swap wasn’t as well-attended as the one in Spring and there weren’t quite so many clothes but I still did very nicely for myself. Here’s my group shot, including a pair of red gloves.



Here’s a pair of New York & Company low-rise, slim jeans (a brand I’d never buy at full-price), Athleta pants (I’d never heard of the brand but that’s the fun of second-hand clothes be it at a swap, a thrift store or a rummage sale; you see things you might never otherwise), and a pair of linen pants with interesting pocket details at the top and sides.



Here’s a trio of cover-ups. The gorgeous blue/green one is Hard Tail, yet another brand I have never heard (googling shows it to be a fairly expensive US company), the pink/salmon sweater is Banana Republic, and the I’m-not-really-sure-what-color-that-is (tan? charcoal? a shade of green?) sweater is Wind River, another unfamiliar brand.



This little dress is made by Om Zappy, which may have been a funky little store in Seattle – all I found online was Yelp reviews and a website that is no longer. I think I could wear it with tights or over leggings or jeans. I don’t typically wear collared blouses but this New York & Company 7th Avenue blouse looked good on me so I figured I’d try it – that’s the beauty of free.



Lastly, here’s athletic wear.  It’s easy to fall into a trap of wearing dark clothes in winter but I try to make sure I bring in bursts of color. The first is snug on me so I’ll wear it as a top. The middle one is thick and cozy. And I can always use black tank-tops.






Years ago I befriended a widowed man. A couple times in my life I have met someone and knew they were going to be my friend. This was one of those. There was an inevitability in play. I even held off on it – this relationship I sensed was inevitable – because I’d fairly recently had complicated emotional experiences going on in my own life that related to someone’s death – the predominant of which was sticking very close to someone else in the months after his (ex) girlfriend killed herself and devoting my energies to making sure he was okay. I was personally grieving other deaths as well and was feeling, for want of a better term, deathed out. I wasn’t ready for a widowed man and dragged my heels for awhile regaining my equilibrium. As I say, I intuited that we’d be friends. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be, I just wasn’t ready yet.

In time, with my propulsion, we did indeed become very good friends. I felt like, given my own experience with death/grief (and here I don’t mean the ones mentioned above but another far more significant to me), that I had something to offer, something perhaps that wasn’t really available elsewhere. This man, whose wife had died after a very long marriage, was blown open. He had that shell-shocked look many bereaved people take on in the months and sometimes years, after a death. He had family and friends but as the new friend, someone who hadn’t known the couple, I was in a unique role with a different vantage. Bereavement aside, he wasn’t an extroverted jocular fellow and I suspect that while the people already in his life definitely cared for him, they probably didn’t know quite what to do for him after the earliest activity and commotion following the death of his wife subsided.

This was not if you are thinking it, a romance. I didn’t see him that way and that wasn’t the point, and while one can’t always know the future, I didn’t believe it ever would be. We were quite different. He was a lot older and had been the proverbial long-time family man. He’d had a long profession. I, on the other hand, had been much more footloose and independent, having a number of shorter relationships over my life and jobs of many stripes. He later admitted he initially thought I was much younger even, than I actually was. It was, though, a meeting of intellects, a conversation-based relationship. He was introverted, reserved by nature, bookish and a talker in the one-on-one sense. His physical appearance and demeanor could be seen as stern and unemotional to those who didn’t know him; they didn’t invite familiarity. His humor, not abolished by his grief, was dry and under-stated. A person needed to be paying attention. I was paying attention and breathed life back into his world. I’m certain of it. For my part, I got an intellectual equal, someone who listened to me, a man of depth. At the time, I considered him and our friendship the most grown-up I’d known. That was a lot.

Over a period of years the friendship changed. From here, today, I’d say it ran its course and accomplished its purpose. At the time, while I’d felt he had deeply, genuinely appreciated me, I also felt that by having initiated, and driven the engine of the friendship, I’d established a pattern and made things easy for him (which wasn’t entirely wrong given the state he was in when I met him). However, as I saw him gaining energy and strength, I expected the relationship to become more balanced and well, it didn’t exactly.

Further, as he began to emerge from the worst throes of grief, my friend became less recognizable to me, less empathy-warranting. I believed that I’d known a version of him after his traumatic loss and now the fuller picture was emerging. He had more energy, yes, and was putting it toward causes unrelated to grief. Whether it was good or bad is a loaded question and not essential to answer so much as to say that what was emerging wasn’t resonating with me. I chafed at what I was seeing. I told him, even during our friendship, that given how different we were, we’d done awfully well to have had as close and meaningful a friendship as we did. I still think that. Perhaps you could say the ending of the friendship was as inevitable as its occurrence. I know I left him better than I found him. I also knew I’d turned a corner in relationships and going forward would only have grown-up ones. 



“Guest post”

As a rule I don’t print anyone else’s writing on my blog; no quotes, no guest posts, but today I’m going to break from that tradition with an anonymous piece of writing. Quite a few years ago I had a work-from-home part-time job grading “practice” SAT essays for a test prep company. (Side note: I didn’t get this job because my own SAT scores had been so fabulous – they weren’t – but because I did very well in college and had a number of writing credits, primarily in local newspapers, to demonstrate my writing skill.) Most of the student writing I saw was unremarkable. I saved this short piece, part of a response to a question I no longer recall exactly (something about various individuals’ worth to society), not for its writing per se but because I thought it was a stitch, too good not to now share. I give you “Ben’s” words:

Secondly, a toy factory assembly man could be considered invaluable because he puts together a lot of toys every day, but the man could be a sleazy bachelor who goes home every night and drinks. There’s a good chance he doesn’t have kids, because he wouldn’t be able to afford them. So, in fact, the man could do nothing for nobody and still be considered full of worth because he produces a lot of toys.


So there’s this tree right outside my window. I like it fine. Over the years, though, it has grown closer and closer to my window and when it’s leafed out, it makes me feel a little claustrophobic. Also, and more significantly, due to the decreased distance, squirrels – at least one if not more – began to jump from the tree to the roof. When they first started doing this, I didn’t know what it was and found the “thump” sound alarming: What was that? I didn’t much enjoy the squirrel-jumping and was concerned that one day one might get the idea to jump to my window ledge and chew its way through the screen instead (this is not wildly far-fetched; not once but twice in my life, in two other places I lived, a squirrel chewed its way in through a window screen and came on in).

Last year I got the idea to stick a weed-whacker out the window and trim the tree myself (that’s how close it was). This actually worked fairly well so far as opening up a little space but it made no impression on the squirrels who continued jumping to the roof without concern.  This week I was able to borrow a “pole trimmer” to stick out the window and trim the tree which I did yesterday.  The trimmer allowed me to do a much better job eliminating limbs too close to the house. I was very pleased with the results. I figured that when a squirrel came along he’d think twice about attempting the jump now and likely turn back around and go another way.

That’s not what happened. Here’s my shabby & quick artist’s rendering of how it was before I used the pole trimmer to trim the tree.


Here’s what happened after I trimmed the tree. The squirrel is NOT turning tail but as of last evening, still jumping, only now it is flying further through the air as it jumps, therefore increasing the sound when it lands on the roof. I created the setting for a squirrel projectile.


Morning awards event (Bargain Style)

This past Friday I went to an awards ceremony/breakfast meeting. I was there as a supportive attendee not an award recipient but it still warranted a decent outfit. The morning was cool but temps were going to heat up later and no doubt there’d be (too much) air conditioning inside the venue (I was right on that score). i wanted to dress appropriately for the conservative-leaning environment – no short, tight dresses 😉 – but still look like me.

I have a beautiful red, long-sleeve Asian style top (not sure what the style is called) that I found many years ago at a church rummage sale but have had few occasions to wear. I’m sure I paid only $1 or $2 for it, a great find. When I found the top it had “matching” black pants but they were short & oddly baggy, not matching me at all so I left them behind. I was amazed that the top, labeled R & M Richards by Karen Kwong, fit as well as it did, with long enough sleeves and fabric that didn’t pull too tightly across my back or shoulders; i.e. I could move freely. To add extra warmth I wore a skinny strapped, fitted black tank top underneath (which I took off after the event so I wouldn’t be too hot outside).

The pull-on style pants I matched the top with are Joe Benbasset in medium, which I found at Ross about two years ago for under $10. Made of Rayon, Nylon & Spandex, they are very comfortable and jet black which is perfect. I’ve slightly altered the pants just a bit by hand-sewing at the hips seams because, as medium-rise pull-on pants, they tended to slide down (irritating holy hell out of me). The slight change made them just right  (a size small in these would probably have been too small/short) and now they stay up without tugging.

I initially wanted to wear black sandals to complete the theme – they looked good! – but it was just too cold in the morning so I went with Easy Spirit flat black ankle boots (a thrift find). Black dress shoes would have worked but currently I have none (black Keds i tried didn’t look right – not that I thought they would). September is a tad early for boots but with long pants the “boot” part wouldn’t show anyway.

I didn’t have time to snap morning pictures and later in the day my hair had been subjected to the 70mph highway winds on the ride home with the honoree (we had the windows down). You’ll see I went with the only earrings I own that have a vaguely Eastern style and added two gold butterfly clips above my ear and on the middle of the braid. I promise my hair was more kempt when the day started – I think when you wear a hair style like this it needs to be sharp and crisp, very polished.