Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Crazypants! Clothes for $1.00 per Piece

Had a dizzy afternoon at the Ark on the 1200 block of N. Milwaukee Ave (in Chicago).
Partly dizzy owing to low blood sugar and the very tight aisles, partly to the happiness of being distracted from real life worries, mostly to the "blowout" prices.
Blowout is a most unfortunate word, I will forever associate with diaper accidents.
Crazy or sensible pants and tops if marked $1.00 were $1.00.
Clothes marked  $15.00 or less were $1.00.
Clothes marked $16.00 or more were 1/2 price.
Seems that "clothes" does not mean shoes, scarves, coats and jackets, but still thousands of choices in cashmere, wool, linen, denims galore!
This applies to today and tomorrow, not sure for how much longer.
If any local readers please go forth and enjoy.
For some reason, my choices were pants-heavy, probably because I could not carry any more after a while. Olive green jeans for husband & son, silk pajama pants, gray career (Talbot) slacks for me, linen pants for son, a couple of silk tops for self and daughter, french blue shirt for son, and, and, what?, I don't even know.  15 things for about $16.50.

Also, happy Packi Day , yum yum.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Serendipity: Found, Then Lost

So I was walking home from the bus stop today, when a thought came to me, something along the lines of, "Gee, I would like to find some art today. It's been a while." Not one minute later, Bingo! I spied with my little eye a large colorful painting of a lone tree against a blue sky.  It was leaning face out next to a recycling can. Reader, I picked it up and continued on my way. Perhaps it looked a bit like this:

I stopped at a corner store, leaned the painting facing inward against the store's placard in the entry way. I hesitated feeling that it might vanish.   I did not want to bring in the light, yet awkwardly sized, canvas. In the time it took me to to pick up and pay for 2 packages of pork chops and a bags of dried split peas, the painting disappeared from its safe spot. 

Unbelievable, yet predictable.  I cast my eye, east, west, north and south and saw no sign of it.  I felt the sharp pang of loss that followed my minutes of wonder and delight. I wondered if the thief was feeling any smidge of guilt or regret as his feet were scampering away or pressing on the gas pedal. Would the new owner be able to enjoy it? I wondered at my rapid attachment and my inability to reconcile myself to its sudden absence.  Always hard to let go. I estimate x100 compared to getting used to its presence, wooden frame light on my fingertips. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Good Things Come in Small(?) Packages: Woolgathering

What the heck?  Evidently you can not be too skinny, too, rich, or too wasteful?   Are ladies petite of size more supersized in trendy/spendy/wasteful habits than the medium-and-up general population of clothes-wearing ladies?  Many times while dumpster diving, I have found what seem like entire wardrobes of XS, S, P and 0- to 2-sized clothing relinquished to garbage cans. In one go, I find a volume equal to 2 big, black garbage bags or 5 or 6 brown paper grocery bags.  Sometimes just a few thing left on top of a garbage can.

Oddly, there have been very few M, L, or XL finds on my excursions in spite of the US having a typical size of 14.  Are these ladies more frugal or or those sizes more difficult to replace? Thrift stores have a more even distribution. A friend tried to donate her size 0 to 2 clothes and was gently rebuffed by a women's shelter as their need was for larger sizes. Clearance sale items in first-hand store tend to have lots of smaller sizes on clearance, not so much in the middle, and perhaps never had large sizes to start with. Few brick and mortar stores offer plus sized clothing--Lane Bryant and Torrid are two destinations I can think of, perhaps more choice of larger sizes online?

Before I had a teen daughter, I washed and dried (on a hot setting) these finds and offered them to my nieces and petite sisters-in-law. I donated to a food pantry that had a clothing distribution. Now my daughter has dresses, velvet gowns, coats and jackets for all seasons and occasions, cashmere sweaters (1 new with a tag that read $120), dresses and cardigans in all colors of the rainbow by
J Crew. A friend said that we must had rich neighbors and that she could never find things like that in her neighborhood.  We bask in the reflected affluence of our neighbors.  High rents and high prices to buy homes nearby.  But! I have also found things near her house too!  I just looked. She was right and she was wrong.

I'm reading/have read/about to read several books on related topics: Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash by Susan Strauser, very interesting and excellent, delicious writing about quilting, reusing, mending, brings to mind boro cloths; others: Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes; Where Did My Clothes Come From?; Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Secondhand Clothes.


If It's Not One Thing It's Another

Small transformations, not in the thing, but in a small shift of thinking about the thing.

A small wrap around skirt becomes an apron.
Once when I found a beautiful linen floral one at a thrift store the idea popped into my head as a justification to buy it, not leave it behind as unusable.
Second time, sorting through dear aunt's wardrobe for donation.  Tenderly folding petite garments, many handsewn, many triggering memories of summer days, her wardrobe of hats, while searching for one 40-year-old dress she chose for burial, finding one wrap denim wrap skirt with patchwork pockets, now an apron in my kitchen keeping her memory close.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Grasshopper watched and learned

My dear daughter,Wisteria, came back from a summer camp field trip to an arcade--something along the lines of Enchanted Haunted Castle and Trails.  She came back with a bulging sack of candy and trinkets, reporting a great time with her buddy Lexi.  She said they after they spent up their designated tokens, they went a-scavenging in the dark corners and under machines for fallen tokens. She used her phone as a flashlight and he scooped up $20-30 dollars worth of tickets that they spent up on the objects of their desire.

link to Kung Fu quotes:


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Removed by Distance, Time, and Distraction

Has this every happened to you?  

You are wholly, merrily engaged, reading, drawing, (cough), engaged with the internet, when surprise, surprise, surprise, your Spidey sense tingles, a vague forboding, a slight discomfort, your vision dims, you look up and lo, the apartment is full of smoke. It may be that in baking a potato, you forgot a dish of chopped coconut in the broiler--what was it doing there? Good question Chumly. Explain that to the truck load of handsome firemen coming to the door you opened to let the smoke billow out.  Thanks neighbors for watching out. Or maybe you thought you were turning on the fire under the hot water kettle looking forward to a nice cup of tea.  Except you absentmindedly turned on the empty, buttery griddle that you made grilled cheese in for your eldest, cheese-loving child until said pan blackens.  Will Bon Ami really help you out?

Oh, never, you say?  Well, (cough), good for you.  Don't let this happen to you in the future, yeah?

Several years ago in San Francisco, we missed seeing Robert Plant in a free concert in 
Golden Gate (?) Park because we had to spend hours returning a rental car to the airport. 
If we read the fine print we would have noticed the neighborhood drop off place was closed that day and would have arrange to drop it there the next day.  I pined away thinking the closest I would come to the presence of Mr. Plant was a secondhand encounter.  My coworker one day found herself walking behind a long-haired and very handsome man on a downtown street.  Sometimes you can tell someone is gorgeous without even seeing his/her face. She enjoyed the moment all the more when he turned around. Sometimes you can feel someone eyes drinking you in.

My only encounter of walking behind a famous person and the faded, worn seat of his cotton pants happened near the Steppenwolf Theater, the known clotheshorse? John Malkovich.

Imagine my happiness and delight when we had an opportunity to attend a Robert Plant concert in our own hometown. Those emotions were tempered with cigarette and other smokes of the fellow attendees, the whooping of a nearby gentleman who was attempting to has his voice carry to the far off stage, and the misery of my 10-year-old daughter who thankfully went the distance. We heard all my favorite songs with the exception of "Stairway to Heaven" which he declined to perform.

Wishing you sweetness,


song,  a whole lotta love,

and company of friends in 2015.

Rock on!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Oh! Christmas Tree! Whereforth Art Thou Christmas Tree?

This is not our tree. This is not our living room. This pretty tree appears momentarily in a free ad in our local Craigslist. Free listings like pine needles expire quickly. 

One of my favorite heirlooms is a silvery aluminum table top tree from a great aunt and great uncle. It was a treat to visit their bungalow, feeling enveloped in their pink and black tiled kitchen and coordinating bathroom, their sun porch housed a collection of pinned butterflies under glass.  Their home was a time capsule of the 1940 and 1950s in the 1960s when I was a little girl. I was fascinated, the only other kind of butterflies I had seen were the live ones that landed softly on me in the prairie grasses in countryside around St. Charles.  

Where is that countryside now?  Buried under concrete, asphalt, and malls.  One statistic states that only 1/100 of 1 percent of the original prairie and oak savanna exist, that's like one penny out of 100 dollars. Mostly around railroad tracks and desolate Illinois cemeteries. Where are the butterflies?  In my memory, and hopefully in the fringes.  My aunt and uncle also live on in my memories.  Also their nippy chihuahua, he does not rest so quietly.  An annoyed and vengeful neighbor of my uncle's poisoned his dog in retribution for dog droppings in the alley.

As for the tree is with us, quietly waiting in a large box, waiting for it's moment to shine. The silver branches push into a wooden pole with drilled angled holes. The stand is padded with paper to hold the thin stalk upright.  Shiny deep blue and green balls sparkle, a rotating color wheel, prone to overheating, a gift from a coworker, shines up glowingly, alternately blue, green red. 

My dear, unsentimental children sadly regard this little tree as second rate.  They request a live tree. Stubbornly, I am loathe to purchase one.  I silently begrudged the salesperson in the hardware store parking lot the $35 my husband paid one year.  Since then we freecycled one  away from a professor who was getting ready to travel home Christmas week, one Craigslist free section posting of freshly cut one in a nearby alley (it was inaccurately advertised as 10-feet tall, which probably discouraged others from investigating), one I dragged home a block or 2 a day or 2 before Christmas Eve sliding the bottom over a slippery layer of snow.  It still had a personalized ornament dangling from its branches, ie, Joseph and Mary 2014, a clay couple holding hands.  My husband recut the bottom, and it was fragrant and beautiful 'til I took it down after 3 Kings' Holiday.

Clement is "willing" to "compromise" with an artificial green tree, but I'll take a walk around again in our "urban forest" this weekend to see if any neighbors are divesting themselves of their trees early. I'll give a secondhand tree a second home and a place in our memories.

Addendum:  Success!  Midday walk to drop off coffee ground to community garden and finch food to their spot, found 3 bouquets worth of protea, hydrangea, palm fronds, purple liantris, and the highly sought after live Christmas tree, thank you neighbors ;-)