Tag Archives: clothes

About my winter (and 2020 resolutions)

I’ve had a good winter. It was productive and the little “kick” in my step I felt in the fall hasn’t gone away. There’s been a bit of reprieve from an on-going problem in my life (not because anybody did the right thing but just out of a change in circumstances) and it’s allowed me to breathe a little easier. So that was certainly part of it. Creating more focus and direction for myself in the last three years with the annual resolutions has helped me considerably. I’ve already made a good start.

In a post a few years ago I remember saying that I felt like my life was a big ship in need of minor course adjustments. But big ships don’t change direction easily. They groan and strain and balk when required to turn; momentum has got them chugging along straight and that’s the easiest path. My ship has groaned and strained and balked but BY GUM it has turned. I don’t feel as wasteful. Wasteful of time, energy, talents, potential.

I stayed in shape and ate well. That’s one of the most important things I do every winter. It’s important always but tougher in winter. I pushed myself to not get lazy or eat more calories than I burned. In years past I’d be very active in good weather and was burning off the calories I consumed but come winter, when I slowed down physically, my calorie intake didn’t. I have finally realized I need to start dialing back the portions, even in a fairly healthy diet, in the fall not later in winter. I ate fruit like it was my job. A good, juicy mandarin orange, for one, is an amazement each time.

Somewhat of an aside but I feel like mentioning this: Last summer and again this winter, I bought a lot of food from Amazon. I’m in an area where Amazon offers home grocery delivery for Prime members. I only get Prime, which I split with someone, occasionally and when I do, I go to town. See, a year of Prime is $119. However, if you pay by the month and get it, say six months a year, it costs, at $12.99 a month, $78 a year. I don’t need Prime every month and I don’t even need it six months a year (last year I believe I got it for two months and two separate weeks when they had a special). Point being, when I do get it, I make sure to get my money’s worth and part of that has become groceries, both shelf-stable and perishable. Having food delivered to me has been wonderful. It’s not perfect but it’s made my life better. My life really does revolve around meals.

I was doing yoga but injured myself (not doing that) and had to cut back in the last month but have kept up my other exercising (push-ups, hand-weights, walking, and so on).

One of my goals was 8 attempts at a pull-up (or chin-up). Not 8 consecutive attempts but 8 visits to a local playground to have a go at it. The bar is just out of reach, so that when I’m standing on the ground below it, just the tips of my fingers touch it. I have to jump up to catch hold of the bar and decided that if I could touch my chin to the bar that’d count as a success. On my third visit I was able to do that and did it once more to make sure I could. I wouldn’t call this a pull-up exactly. I think a real pull-up requires you to pull yourself from a dead weight (no jumping involved) and to get your chin over the bar. Still, I was pleased to accomplish what I did!

I’ve read 15 books (out of a goal of thirty). I recently discovered Playaway books at the public library. They are cute little recorded books that you plug ear buds or headphones into. I am really enjoying being “read to”. I’ve listened to two books I read in years past, Animal Farm and The Handmaid’s Tale as well as two other novels. It’s fun to have these for variety (in addition to actual books) and I can go outside or do routine chores while listening. Some readers are fantastic at the narration and their talents really add to my enjoyment. (I was half-expecting that Margaret Atwood would read her own book but it’s Claire Danes; the story’s narrator is a young woman so of course it makes sense to have a younger person narrate.) While I’ve listened to books on CD in the past, I’ve yet to listen to any podcasts and resist reading books on any kind on an electronic device (like Kindle) so the Playaway books are a big deal for me!

I am on a mission to get rid of stuff. I’ve already put 72 items on my list this year. I’m not living in an empty house by any means but it is streamlined and orderly and visually attractive. Getting rid of a lot of stuff in the last several years is a big reason for that. I can find things, I know where stuff is. There is something very freeing in getting rid of things. I haven’t stopped buying NEW things but right now the things are going out in larger quantities than they are coming in; I’m trying to be very particular about what comes into my home (and my life for that matter; it’s all connected).

In December I fixed up my kitchen with a a “poor woman’s” semi-Italian update. No major appliances left or came in; it was largely a cosmetic project but I’ve been very happy with it.

I went through ALL of my clothes, looking at everything with fresh eyes. I got rid of (charity, etc) anything that wasn’t working for me or made fixes that could turn clothes into better versions of themselves. Whether I get them new or second-hand, I routinely have to take “tucks” in most of my jeans, pants, and shorts at the waist in order for them to fit right. (If I buy a smaller size, then the rest of the garment is too tight.) Taking in “tucks” at the waist makes pants or shorts sit where they should so the rest fits better.

If I got a piece of clothing free or cheap, I feel freer to “operate” on it. I bought these cute Forever 21 shorts for a dollar at a rummage sale last year but realized they were just too big. I remedied that by hand-sewing new seams down both sides and cutting off the excess. Now the shorts fit and flatter me.

This Merona sweater (a former Target brand) that I think I got from a thrift store is very sweet but just a bit big and additionally, it “gapped” in between buttons (you women readers know what I’m talking about; people can look right in at your bra! I hate that.). I fixed the button-gapping by sewing buttons (I keep a small stash of extras) permanently on between the gapping buttons at the top. Now the sweater is a pullover – since the newly added buttons sewn right through the front – but that’s okay because at least it looks good and I’ll be more likely to wear it.

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The second & fourth buttons are sewn right through the sweater

I also went through all jewelry. I think there’s a point, although I haven’t decided exactly where it is, where you can have too much of something to truly enjoy it. I think this is true of clothes and jewelry too. When I clear things out I can see what I have and I appreciate them more. This doesn’t mean I have hundreds of things because I don’t. Just that I want to manage anything I have where there’s reason (or desire) to have more than a few of it (clothes, jewelry, music, dishes, etc) so that I have a number that works for me. What is the point in merely collecting things in quantities you don’t actually use? Or really love? That’s where my head is at.

I’ve done 10 “good deeds” of the twenty on my resolutions list. The good deeds have to be something more than I might normally do; they can’t be everyday stuff I do all the time; I have to go a bit out of my way. And I have to do them with no idea of being rewarded. I hesitated to even mention this resolution when I wrote about my 2020 plans because I didn’t want it to sound self-congratulatory. I still don’t. But if I was reading this, I might want to know what kinds of things I’m talking about when I say “good deeds” so I will tell you one.

The small grocery store near me is having financial issues and going through changes. I have mixed feelings about the store but I don’t want it to fail and while I won’t give them extra cash (they’ve been doing quite a bit of fund raising) I will help in other ways if I can. On a recent Sunday many grocery carts were outside the store, where they’d been abandoned, rather than stored inside for new customers. Usually an employee is in charge of bringing the carts back inside but I could see nobody was around (maybe nobody ever does this task on Sundays or maybe it was just this particular Sunday). I took it upon myself to round up all the carts and bring them inside. It took a few trips. It is harder to push a line of carts than it looks! I came back through the store a few hours later to see if the carts needed to be brought in again but an employee had apparently already done it.

Basically, I’m keeping my eyes open for things I can do to be helpful or decent or kind, where it requires more effort from me than what I might normally do. And — except for here in this blog – I am keeping them to myself. They are secret good deeds, at least part of the time.

I cut back on my DVD watching. Less internet and less DVDS mean more reading, etc. I’m still doing crosswords and other mind-challenging activities. As much as I want my body to stay strong, I really, REALLY want my mind to stay strong. That said, I’m no zealot and I believe in entertainment. I’m catching up now on movies that were nominated for or won Oscars this year so my DVD-number is on the increase. I figure I’ll just slow it down later this year. I was uncertain about setting a number, but I think a movie a week is good, plus a few series.

It is always about balance. Modern life is not about balance. It’s about excess and immoderation, about indulging one’s self, and never having enough. Does that sound preachy? I don’t mean it to be. But everywhere I turn, I’m encouraged to overdo it and not in good, healthy ways. It is a real struggle to stay in your own lane and not be caught in anyone else’s agenda, be it an individual’s or a corporation’s, or even a government’s. You have to decide what is important to you and keep to it. Beat those distractions back with a stick! That’s what I tell myself.

I enjoyed this winter more than any in years.

The clothes make the zombie

I watch The Walking Dead. I have pretty strong feelings about it. The characters are so well drawn and the concepts explored are riveting – all the central themes of human existence. Not to mention the show is visually stellar – I totally believe it. It is gory for me so I avert my eyes a lot. That said, after five seasons, I’m used to the zombies to the point where I get distracted by what they’re wearing. What can I say, I like clothes and I always look at what people are wearing, often with an eye for how I’d style them. I’ve started zeroing in on what the dead people have got on and trying to decide if it makes sense.

To my eye, the zombie ladies wear an awful lot of long, shapeless skirts. This confuses me. For one, most of the action has been based in and around Atlanta. It’s not the tropics but it’s a moderate region weather-wise. It’s not like there’s been any snow storms in any of the shows. I question whether women in Atlanta would really be wearing so many long skirts. Or whether women in and around a major U.S. city would be so lacking in style. Where are the short skirts? Denim shorts? Zombie club outfits? Even if you allow the zombies seen aren’t necessarily from Atlanta or even Georgia, they’d almost certainly be from nearby, i.e., warm weather, states. Do women in the South wear so many dowdy long skirts? I’m offended on their behalf!

There isn’t a lot of variety in zombie attire in general, even allowing that their clothes are invariably dirty and mangy looking, and therefore more uniform in appearance. Unless I’m mistaken (and I admit I wasn’t always watching carefully) I don’t think I’ve seen one male zombie with low-hanging pants and boxers hanging out. Or a zombie lady in a bikini. Or one in a tiara. Or some loser in a “I hate fat chicks” t-shirt. Well, why not?

Now, whenever a “herd” of zombies show up in a scene, I find myself scanning their outfits. Looking for something just a bit different. I’m not really sure what this says about me…

A story of a new (bargain) shirt

I like clothes. Always have. I’m not high-end, mostly favoring thrift stores. I want the savings, yes, but I also feel this country is obscenely awash in clothes. I don’t want to add to the problem.

It wasn’t like this when I was growing up. Now, I can’t believe how swamped we are in clothes. Not only is there an abundance of new things, thrift stores, church sales, and private yard sales almost always feature piles & piles of clothes.
The value of clothes, save designer and other “desirable” labels, has plummeted. I know a lot of these clothes – perfectly decent things – must end up in the dump. At a point, even charities are saturated. I try to be mindful of this when shopping.

I want to show you a recent store-bought find.

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Isn’t that beautiful? It’s just my type. Awesome colors, flattering, and the sleeves are long enough.

But look at this!
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49 cents?!? I almost wondered why they didn’t just give it to me! Clearly they wanted it gone! Usually if something in a store starts at $16.99, and ends up at 49 cents, there are several stops along the way, a series of increasingly lower stickers stacked on top of one another; $14.99, $11.99, $6.99, and so on. This had no stack. Just one swift price cut. (Sometimes, this means a close examination of the garment at hand will reveal a big tear in the seam or a mystery stain, for examples, but I saw nothing wrong with this shirt).

My time in retail was brief and did not extend beyond my teenage years; I’ve no idea how these things work. And I’d imagine things have changed anyway. It makes me wonder, though, if this shirt hadn’t sold at this price, where would it go next? (They don’t have a “free” pile in the store – nor have I ever seen such a thing.) Out of curiosity I just googled “where do clothes that don’t sell go“. Oh this is nice. Destroyed so they can’t be worn and tossed into the garbage, at least in some instances. Why am I not surprised. Some unwanted clothes get sold en masse, i.e., by the pound, to Africa, which is also where a lot of donated second-hand clothes go, apparently.

I also learned why labels are often cut out of clothing that turns up in marked-down or thrift stores. The fancy label people don’t want their good name tarnished by having it worn by the likes of poor people who couldn’t afford it new! Hahaha! That’s good [sarcasm]. It’s like saying, “I’ll help you out, but you can’t tell anyone you know me.” Oh, I like that [more sarcasm]. What if you were a homeless person and got some designer hand-out with the label cut out, so you made a big cardboard sign with the designer‘s name crudely written on it and wore it around your neck while walking about your city? Now that, that would be good!

I am starting to feel better about my 49 cent shirt, given all this. A little anyway. Buying new clothes may be perpetuating a problem, yet on the other hand, I possibly saved this shirt from the garbage.

I want to show you the label that came with it.

Huh? What's this now?

Huh? What’s this now?

I’ve kept this label and read it several times. This is just the sort of thing that bothers and preoccupies me. What on earth does it mean?? Clearly, the brand went to a bit of trouble, maybe even hired a writer, to come up with this. But it doesn’t make any sense. How do “unique artworks” and “fond memories” come together with my “personal style?” How, I ask you, how?! Whose fond memories?? Mine? Theirs? I don’t know the people at Vintage Suzie. This is the first I’ve ever heard of the name, so their fond memories really aren’t of much interest.

And what about this albeit pretty shirt reflects “beautiful eras” and “exotic places?” Lord, they aren’t talking about the 60’s and 70’s are they? And the admonition that I “be beautiful, live differently, and dress Vintage Suzie?” If I was going to “live differently,” I doubt buying and wearing clothes would have much to do with it. Don’t people who “live differently” tend to do things like set up homesteading in the woods? Or start themselves a scary cult? Or insist on being called Sir Lancelot the Eighteenth, or some such? Buying fashions, cute, “vintage,” or not, aren’t usually high on the priorities.

Lest you think, as I initially did, that the copy was written by someone not overly familiar with English – and I am being unfair in mocking it – let me end by showing you this.

Yep, USA.

Yep, USA.

Come out, come out, wherever you are $%&@#!

I rummaged through my closet this morning, from one end to the other and back again. Where was that charcoal gray long-sleeved sweater, the one that would work nicely with black leggings and boots on this extra cold day? It can’t be lost in the small closet, which is just 5.5 feet long by 2 feet deep. I wanted the sweater because it had ass coverage; I’m not walking around in snug leggings with a short top, no siree! It’s not that I have so many clothes (and definitely not winter clothes which are my least favored), that I typically can’t find things or don’t know what I own. Sometimes I might lose track only because I bought something off-season and it hadn’t yet entered the rotation and/or I might have stored it away.

As I dug around, a thought began to creep into my consciousness… had I dreamt up this sweater?? I mean literally dreaming as in zzz’s and honk-shoo? This, sadly, has happened to me before, where I dreamed about an article of clothing, naturally something fabulous that made me happy, but almost on waking, realized there was no such item. Now here I was in the closet trying to find my lovely sweater. I could see it in my mind’s eye!

I did not find it. And all day I could not shake off the idea of its existence. I’m simply not sure if it was in a dream or it really is here somewhere, snickering at me.