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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Christmas and December Board: Mistletoe Hairpin

A hairpin, a few pearls, and a gathered knot of green felt – what can they tell us about Christmas? A woman gets dressed and in her hair she perches this tiny ornament, guaranteeing an evening of appreciative laughter and maybe kisses!

Christmas is a holiday in which we become absorbed. All through December it works magic in every corner of life. There develops a perfect need for greenery on fireplace mantels and at the base of candlesticks and the smell of pine trees indoors is what we want. Bells jingle on doorknobs; gleams of gold and silver brighten everything, everywhere. Santa’s jolly face adorns our clothing, our gift bags, our houses, and more.

We change how we say hello and good-bye, for “Merry Christmas” means, “I am thinking of your Christmas Day and hoping your home will be a bower of good feeling and warmth.” We change what we eat in honor of Christmas. Family receipts come out to lengthen tradition with one more celebration. Cookie sheets are slid from lower cupboards so that reindeer, gingerbread men, stars, wreaths, bells, and symbols of Christmas will be sprinkled with red and green sugar and eaten with more pleasure than mere “ordinary time” cookies.

And, of course, there appears — small or large, highly colored or marble white, outdoors on the lawn or inside in a place of honor — the reason for the season, a scene of a woman and man rejoicing over a modest event, the birth of yet another baby, but this child surrounded by signs of the miraculous.

Its encompassing, energetic joy may be why Christmas is so resented. We become immersed in Christmas. It is a large holiday and properly celebrated it is everywhere. From store windows and spreads in national magazines to lawn crèches, neighborly charity, and hometown parades, Christmas creates a kindness and joy, a sharing that opens hearts and binds close those who love it.

What a powerful holiday it must when even lowly hairpins take on Christmas garb.

http://pinterest.com/brendacious/christmas-and-december/

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Interesting Reflections Board: Billowing Lavender

This looks like Lavender itself billowing across water — sunset clouds spilled from the heavenly realm onto land and lake and leaving behind an icy sky bereft of color.

In Beverly Hills, near that winding way of tall palms whose image seems required in every L.A. movie, there is a set of parallel streets, each entirely planted with one species of trees. My first spring in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon the street of blooming Jacarandas. Standing edge to edge, they were as solidly lavender as this photo, ragged lavender spheres above a flawless lavender carpet of fallen petals. I got out of the car and stared, knowing that never again would I stand in such a landscape. The air was lavender, the reflections on my car, the glint on my glasses, even my thoughts shimmered with the vibrant presence of these Jacaranda blossoms.

It reminded me of that classic old cartoon where a tree stands in green and brown and suddenly the eraser end of an unseen artist’s pencil sweeps in and rubs away the green. A paintbrush applies – lavender – what more cartoon-like color is there? What color so seldom found in quantities in nature and certainly not on a tree?

Yet there I was in the midst of this natural miracle. And in this photograph I see that moment, something too beautiful to be examined.

http://pinterest.com/brendacious/interesting-reflections/

1870s Board: Those Cherry Stockings!

These stockings startled me.

With 1870s photos it is easy to emphasize “Victorian” decorum and forget color. All those ladies with heads held stiffly in vises to ensure a clear photograph were not wearing charcoal-grey gowns. And — apparently — they might not have been wearing modest black stockings on their “limbs.”

Imagine the flash of color when a woman lifted her heavy, restraining skirts to climb into a carriage. A pair of these flirty French stockings must have ruined – or confirmed – the reputation of many a “lady.”

My western novel is set in 1877 California, and when I revise it, I will give Faye Shelburne, my wealthy young widow, a pair of these wonderful stockings. She and her husband spent a few years in Europe. Of course she would have bought these in France. Fancying herself a rebel, Faye would risk them being seen.

This particular pair of “cherry-brights” is still tagged, which indicates to me that they were never sold, but put away as something too special to discard when their era of fashion was over. If they had been worn and still looked this good, I would guess a careful maid slipped a wooden “shaper” into them when they were wet so they would shrink to the right size.

The amount of work that clothes once required is unimaginable nowadays. I used to iron my blouses – no more! But if I had a chance to wear beautiful stockings such as these I might start hunting antique stores for some stocking shapers ….

http://pinterest.com/brendacious/1870s/