{ Ava Eleanor }

When most of my people have exited the house on a busy Saturday, then my brain has a chance to focus on the few who are still at home for the day.

Today’s “brain focus target” is my youngest daughter, Ava.

When Ava was born, she looked like a beautiful, brown-skinned Nunavut native. “Our Eskimo baby”, we called her.

Ava means “birdlike”, which suits her, because she likes to feed suet and seed to the many hungry birds who flit around our rural property. She also likes to paint with watercolors, but she doesn’t favor anyone hovering over her shoulder while she works.

She makes thick, fruity smoothies that overflow a pint-sized Mason jar, and she has a favorite book series about Peter Pan that she has read several times.

Today, I worked in my room while Ava sat at my desk and browsed over the latest library book Beautiful Boards, a photo cookbook of appealing snack boards you can create at home.

Then I rested on the sofa with a headache and when I woke up, Ava had made lunch.

“I saved something for you…” she said.

“ARE YOU THE BEST?!” I asked her. “…THE BEST?!”

Then I ran off after her, laughing and calling out: “ANSWER ME!” 

Ava Eleanor and her blessed Mama.

{ Covid-19 Clothing Style }

Part One: Style Problems?

Sheltering at home may be having an effect on me.

My oldest daughter and I were in the kitchen yesterday and she looked me up and down with concern.

“Umm..I was just wondering why you dress with such a mix of patterns lately?”

I looked down at my flowered skirt and buffalo checked shirt. “What’s wrong with this?” I asked. “They both have blue.”

This daughter has been professionally trained to assess cognitive loss in the elderly population.

So, I second-guessed myself.

  • Am I losing it? 
  • Is the fact that I seldom leave the house starting to affect me?
  • Am I just getting old?

But I’m of Scandinavian descent — I like bright colors. 

I’m an artistic type — I don’t mind a little mixing of patterns here and there. 

Perhaps this is how I see myself:

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But maybe this is how she sees me?

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Part 2: My Morning Trip to Walmart

One day later, I got to Walmart as the doors opened; as the masked shoppers rolled past the greeters who now double as patron counters.

I was wearing a flowered skirt (again), athletic shirt (matching color), baseball cap (hair needs coloring), barn jacket and black boots.

Halfway through the dairy section, I noticed an elderly, well-dressed woman. She was a petite, classy grandma type, with snowy white hair, wearing a flashy red dress, fitted black wool coat, nylons and dress shoes, gold earrings, and red lipstick.

Remember, this is Walmart. The sight of her really stood out.

We finally crossed paths near the empty toilet paper aisle, eye to eye and cart to cart, though still six feet apart.

“I like your skirt,” she said to me.

“Thanks. I was noticing you, too — all dressed up here at Walmart.”

She leaned in and quipped, “We need to class this place up a bit, don’t we?”

I laughed and rolled away, smiling. (Also rare at Walmart these days.)

 

{ Frumpy in France }

My son is traveling overseas for the first time, and I prayed that it would be a glorious, life-changing trip for him.

Surrounded by church friends and armed with a confident, likable personality, I doubt he will be homesick and I hope he will have a grand experience. 

This morning’s happy bon voyage caused me to remember my first overseas experience, only 36 years ago….

June 1983

When I left my Midwest suburb, I thought I looked totally acceptable — even cool — in my preppy boat shoes, wide-striped rainbow polo and Kelly green chinos. My hair was freshly home-permed into a bushy, easy-care halo around my pudgy face. 

topsidersOur French teacher, Madame Fansler-Wald, headed up the trip to France, starting in Paris with a one week family stay. A series of pre-trip planning sessions told us what to pack and what to leave home: “Don’t pack too much! Leave lots of room for souvenirs.”

At that season of my life, I thought so little of makeup that I decided I would lighten my luggage by leaving makeup at home — all 3 ounces of it. 

When it was time to leave, my whole family could stand at the gate and wave goodbye, because this was the innocent, trusting 1980’s.  

Au revoir! See you in 3 weeks!

My hollow carry-on and I landed in Paris and each student was shuffled off for one week with their Parisian host family. 

Pascale DuClosel was my teen counterpart in the host family — she was short, dark and aloof. She sported a fashionable, cropped hairdo and wore mini skirts and high-heeled pumps. She lived in a stylish flat with her mother and father, who were also aloof but pleasant, and spoke less English than Pascale. 

That first night — and every night —  I sat alone in the sparse European guest bedroom and drew out my Bible.  Trying to ward off homesickness, I read big chunks of the comforting Psalms; they have been my best friend ever since.

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For breakfast we bought fresh, long loaves of French bread and ate them slathered with real butter and exquisitely lumpy marmalade. 

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Pascale showed me her neighborhood and some days we sat at the sidewalk cafe with her friends. It didn’t take long to soak in the fashionable, French atmosphere, and I recall the moment I saw my frumpy reflection in a shop window and looked down at my sensible shoes. 

Suddenly, I felt like a farm hand that had parachuted into an elegant, sophisticated party.

And, I must have missed the unit where Madame talked about French greeting customs.  Pascale’s friend Stephen said goodbye to me one afternoon with a typical double side-cheek air kiss; I cringe when I remember how I innocently turned my face at the wrong time, getting an unintended smack on the lips from Stephen and a scornful look from Pascale.

I was relieved when the host week was over, and we gathered as a group again. The rest of the trip was like a magical dream, visiting giant castles along the Loire River, touring Monet’s charming pink cottage and day-tripping into Switzerland to eat ice cream at sunset.

Before leaving France, I bought those souvenirs that were supposed to fill up my empty luggage. They included:  makeup, a light blue denim mini skirt, and one pair of pink and white leather pumps.