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When I Wear Something I Shouldn’t

I’ve asked my friends to help me. When I wear something I shouldn’t, now or in the future, I want them to take charge. Take me home and leave me there or find something that’s appropriate in my closet. Or take me shopping and buy new clothes using my charge card and keep whatever I shouldn’t have worn.

I explained that I really don’t want to wear clothes with stains or rips. Things I couldn’t or didn’t see. And I may reach a point that my clothing choices aren’t good so please don’t let me wear a flowery blue and yellow blouse with a red and green plaid skirt or dresses that are too big or small. Or shoes of different colors and styles. (Wearing similar styles and the same color is an honest mistake.) Or pants that are entirely too short or have holes in the knees.

Holes in the knees. That made us laugh. Some of us remember when a pair of jeans with holes in the knees was not worn in public. We wore them playing outside at home or our pants were mended. Mom kept a supply of iron-on patches in her sewing kit, but she never thought the sticky backing kept the patches on well so she stitched them too. It wasn’t unusual to wear blue jeans with patched knees, but if there were holes anywhere else those pants were officially worn out.

With my old-fashion attitude, I wonder why anyone would pay good money for ripped pants. Online, one previously trusted retailer offers jeans with slits and holes, described as shredded & destroyed down the front & back of the legs, for $69.99. The seller states, “The beauty is in the breakdown.” This pair of jeans shows more leg than they cover. Others are available with busted knees for $78 and are exactly like the ones that Mom ironed patches on. I haven’t brought myself to wear jeans with busted knees or that have been shredded and destroyed.

And I’m still holding out on wearing leggings and jeggings. Leggings look like those heavy dark tights, but without feet, that we wore for warmth under skirts forty years ago. On young women and girls, I love the look of leggings with long loose mid-thigh tops so I tried on a pair. But I’d only feel good wearing such pants on my six-foot tall, past-retirement-age body if I wore a top than came to my knees.

Next I tried jeggings, tight-fitting stretch pants, styled to resemble a pair of denim jeans and pulled on like panty hose. A pair was advertised as comfortable as panty hose, which seems like one reason not to wear them. Another reason is on my body they looked exactly like leggings.

So I’m adding to my clothing list that friends shouldn’t let me wear: leggings and jeggings. And if I show up somewhere wearing ripped warrior leggings, take me home and leave me there, but please come visit.



Tie On an Apron

imgresJust the word apron makes me smile. Granny’s aprons were part of her day’s attire and used for many tasks, including carrying eggs from the henhouse. Grandma Gladys’ aprons were stained with bacon grease. And I can see Mother wearing her green and red striped apron and standing at her white Westinghouse stove as she stirred milk and sugar and Cocoa for a chocolate cream pie. All their aprons tied around the waist, officially called waist aprons.

Granny tied a clean apron over her dress every morning. Her daily attire was a cotton, button-up-the-front dress, long sleeves in the winter and short sleeves in the summer, and an apron that somewhat matched her dress. Granny made aprons from flour sacks that held twenty-five pounds of flour. The sack, ripped open at the seam and laid flat, just needed three sides hemmed and one side gathered. Stitch the gathers to a front waistband, in a complementary fabric, and attach long strings to the waistband. The fabric strings were one or two inches wide and long enough to tie in a bow in the back or wrapped around the waist and tied in the front. Granny wore her apron all day, except when she went to town or church or visited a friend.

When she chopped weeds or hoed her garden, Granny used her apron to wipe sweat from her face. And she held the bottom of her apron up to form a pouch with one hand and picked black-eyed peas with her other. Then she sat on the white church bench on her front porch and shelled the peas right into her apron. No need for a bucket or a pan. And although Granny always had chickens and gathered eggs, she never owned an egg basket.   Her apron held eggs quite well.

Grandma Gladys’ aprons were gifts from her three daughters and she tied hers high above her waist to catch bacon grease splatters. She was the master at frying meats and vegetables. Seems she wore the same apron for a week, until washday on Monday. Because Grandma liked pretty things, some of her aprons were decorated with ruffles along the bottom hem.

Mother tied an apron around her waist only when she worked in the kitchen – cooking or canning or freezing. She wore the same one until it wasn’t clean – sometimes once, sometimes several days. And if it could be worn again, she tied her apron to a kitchen drawer handle when she took it off.   Some of hers were originally flour sacks – striped or solid fabric, no tiny floral prints for Mother – but she made some Sunday aprons from store-bought fabric. Fabric she’d bought on sale or fabric left over from a dress she made.

When I cook, I pull a bib style apron over my head. I need a whole body apron – not a waist one. I wouldn’t dare slice tomatoes or brown beef roast without a covering. I’m so messy that if I didn’t wear an apron, I’d have to change clothes to be presentable at the dinner table. Before I get the cornmeal and buttermilk out to make cornbread, I slip an apron over my head, wrap the ties around my waist and tie it in the front – all in one motion.

And I keep an apron handy – hanging on a kitchen cabinet doorknob. That’s just the way I was raised.

Bibs – Not Just for Babies

searchThe first time I hear about adult bibs – ones for healthy adults – I laughed. It was during a gathering of my college girlfriends and late one night we were sharing things that annoyed us. Small things. Like a caller hanging up after we’d stopped what we were doing, gotten up from our Lazy Boys, walked across the room, picked up the phone, and said, “Hello.” Like pulling apart the sealed opening on a plastic bag of cake mix and losing our grip and the cake mix coated our feet. Like dropping food on the front of our white blouses while eating lunch at a restaurant and we had other places to go and no amount of water or fabric stain release would get the stain out. Or the stain release left a worse blotch than the ketchup we’d splattered across our fronts.

“I have a solution for that!” Friend said. “I made bibs for Harry and me. We wear them all the time when we get food at a drive through and eat in our car, but not in restaurants.” The room was silent. I envisioned my friend and her distinguished professional husband wearing giant sized yellow bibs trimmed with white eyelet lace and decorated with ducks. “And Harry wears it?” someone asked. “Yes, over his suit and tie,” Friend said. I burst out laughing and so did everyone, including Friend.

It seemed we each imagined Friend’s distinguished professional husband wearing different bibs. One with “I love Mommy” embroidered. One with Mickey Mouse. Another with a tiger cub and long orange strings to tie around the neck. Of course, that’s not what Friend made. She used plain blue fabric and her bibs fastened behind the neck with Velcro. She offered to make bibs for each of our husbands and us. That was ten years ago and I declined. But now I might wear a bib in my parked car beside McDonald’s. And maybe at home as my friend Elaine recently told me that she does.

Elaine says any food she attempts to put into her mouth somehow ends up on her blouse. So she wears a two-foot long bib made of terry cloth. Why so long? To cover the pillow that is on her lap and is a table for her plate. She needs a pillow table because she watches Jeopardy on TV while eating dinner. Even if she drops her plate onto the floor, her blouse and her pillow remain clean. Elaine offered to get me a long bib just like hers.

So now I have two sources for custom bibs. And I like the looks of the ones that are online and advertised as Dignified Bibs from Professional Fit Clothing. Adult bibs made from button-up-the-front madras plaid shirts or the front of a vest. They can be worn under a sweater or jacket and no one will ever know you are wearing a bib.

Who am I kidding? I don’t want a bib because of a vivid memory. I tied a towel-like bib around Grannie’s neck before I spooned soup into her mouth when she could no longer feed herself. I’m not there. But if I ever am, I want a happy bib. A yellow one trimmed with white eyelet lace and decorated with a duck.

One Load at a Time

Laundry_Basket_Clean_Clothes_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100403-040279-741042“I’ve got to get home.  I’m doing laundry today,” I said to Daughter as I left her house.

“Oh, you’re doing both loads for the week on the same day?”  Daughter replied with her head tilted and a teasing smirk.  She’s the mother of four children, ages 8 and under.  Children who play on dirt piles, climb trees, ride bikes, and create pictures with markers.  Her laundry is never finished.  I remember those days, with two young children.  Now, my laundry basket holds dirty clothes for just Husband and me.

Yes, we have automatic washers and dryers.  Doing laundry is easy compared to washdays of olden times.  But think how many times we handle shirts and pants.  We carry, sort, treat stains, load the washer, unload the washer, load the dryer, unload the dryer, fold, hang, put away.  And yet we roll all that into simply “doing laundry.”  Ironing is a whole separate chore.

As I’ve mindlessly sorted and loaded and folded, I’ve pondered.

About socks.  There was a time that I kept a basket, right beside the dryer, for unmatched socks.  I didn’t waste time searching for one short white athletic sock or one black dress sock.  When the basket overflowed, I emptied all the socks onto the floor and challenged my family to find matching pairs.  I’ve never understood what happens to missing socks.  Does the washing machine really eat them?  Two black socks in.  One out.  The other, never seen again.

About folding.  Don’t washcloths that have been tossed in a basket wash just as well as ones that are folded in half and then thirds?  Folded underwear looks orderly in a drawer, but I promise it wears just the same when it’s thrown into that drawer.  When I was teacher and our children were middle school age, any time that I was home, the washer and dryer were going.  But the folding and putting away… there were times that it never happened.  Some clothes went from the clean clothes laundry basket (unloaded from the dryer) to the body.

About stains.  I admit I’m not good at removing stains.  I can get rid of grass stains, but any stain that no one knows how it got there; I’m not good with those.  If a prewash spray doesn’t do the trick, I hope no one notices or I pretend surprise when a friend points out a dirty spot on the front of my blouse.  I’m beginning to think that my friend Carol has the right idea.  She says that she chooses multi-colored blouses with designs so when she drops food, it blends in, and if it leaves a stain, that’s okay.

My friend Beth has two young children and a full time job.  I like her philosophy that she shared on Facebook:  “Had to fold laundry before work since there doesn’t seem to be any other time to do it.  Just sorting thru life, one load at a time.”

Doing laundry for a family of two or four or six.  Doing two loads a week or two loads a day.  All we can do is one load at a time.


We All Need Help Sometimes

??????????????????????????????????????If I have lipstick on my teeth, please tell me.  If my sweater isn’t buttoned correctly or my tee shirt is wrong side out, I want to know.  One day last week while shopping and running errands around town, I greeted and talked with more than a dozen people, and then a friend pointed her finger toward her own teeth and simply said, “Lipstick.”  And often, I’ve quickly fastened just a couple of buttons on a cardigan sweater and walked out the door.  Never realizing that I look lopsided.

On my daughter’s wedding day, the florist called early that morning, before I was fully awake, and said that he couldn’t get in the church to decorate.  So I quickly jerked on the shorts and tee shirt I’d worn the day before.  A quick trip to church, unlock the door and come home, I thought.  But then, my cell phone rang as I turned the key in the church door, and the caterer asked that I come by her kitchen to discuss a last minute menu change.  And on the way home, I remembered that we needed a bag of ice so I stopped at the grocery.  When I arrived home, my son said, “Hey, Mom, do you know that your shirt is on backwards and wrong side out?”  There, right below my chin, a white tag hung on my dark green tee shirt.  Hopefully, that was my only fashion faux pas as mother of the bride.

I take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who pulls such stunts.  A teacher friend once wore one black shoe and one brown shoe to school.  No one in her family noticed before she left home, but the keen eye of a seven-year-old immediately spotted his teacher’s unusual attire.  The shoes were similar style, but different heel heights, which annoyed my friend all day and explained why she’d stumbled as she walked down the hallway.

A minister preached his first sermon, a trial sermon, wearing a brand new suit.  His delivery was perfect.  He raised his arms in praise, and he talked with his hands.  After shaking hands with every church member in attendance that Sunday morning, he took off his coat and saw the white manufacturer’s tag attached to his coat sleeve.  He was hired, anyway.

Today’s more casual fashions have wiped out some possible clothing mishaps.  Because we women often wear pants, we seldom hear the words, “You’re slipping,” code words for ‘Your slip is showing.’  But then ‘slipping’ probably doesn’t matter, because the undergarments my mother taught me shouldn’t show are now part of an outfit.  But I do have to remember to zip up my pants.

Lipstick on teeth.  Tee shirts backwards and wrong side out.  Unmatched shoes.  Tags dangling from clothes.  All mishaps.  I like the advice that I first heard from Mother.  If someone can fix something, tell her.  I truly don’t intend to have red polka-dotted teeth.  Just tell me, please.



From Sweatshirts to Tee Shirts


Good-bye, fleece pants and sweatshirts.  Hello, shorts and tee shirts.  It’s that time.  Time to fill dresser drawers with summer clothes.  So I asked Daughter in a text, “Can I help with changing out clothes?”  She immediately replied, “Sure!”

Stacks of pass-‘em-down summer clothes, sorted by sizes, were piled on the girls’ bedroom floor.  My three granddaughters, ages 6, 4, and almost 2, jumped over the stacks.  “Let me have Elaine,” I said.  I claimed a corner and sat on a bed where I hoped to keep my constant-moving young Grand corralled.

“These are the size 2’s, but some are big and some are little.  Just slip them on her and you can tell,” Daughter told me.  Elaine held her arms high over her head and lifted her chin as I took off her long sleeve shirt.  She willingly pushed her hand through a white, short-sleeve tee shirt with a pink flower on the front.  “Perfect!”  I said and stripped it off, over her head.

While I put that shirt in the ‘keep pile’ and reached for another, my Grand toddled away and grabbed a pencil in one hand and a Lego piece in the other.  She’s always liked to hold things, and I knew she’d be happier clutching something, but there was no way that I was willing to navigate a pencil through shirt sleeves.  Using my greatest negotiating ability, I convinced Elaine to swap her long pencil for a pencil eraser.  I maneuvered her closed fists through the next shirt and the next and the next.  One was too short.  One too tight.   One was just right.  It was time for me to eyeball ‘just right.’  I stood Elaine on the floor between my knees and laid shirts across her shoulders and guessed ‘just right.’  “Try some of these size 3’s and here’s some shorts,” Daughter said.

“Okay, Elaine, let’s try on shorts,” I said.  I put my hands under her arms to lift her onto my lap.  She slithered to the floor.  How does a kid know how to do that?  She stretched her arms, flat against her ears, straight above her head and slid.  She lay limp.  In a ball.

I sang a silly made-up song, “Let’s try on some shorts.  Let’s try on some shorts.  Elaine, Elaine.  Try on shorts.”  My Grand responded with a smile.  She only had to try on two pairs for me to determine which of the others would stay up and were the right length.  I continued to sing silly songs, and I bounced her on my knees.

“Here’s a couple of dresses to try,” Daughter said.  By now, Elaine wanted to escape.  She ran from our try-on corner to a baby doll bed.  I coaxed her back and quickly pulled a dress down over her head as she squirmed and wiggled.  It fit.  I lifted the dress off and Elaine again slithered to the floor.  Dressed only in her diaper, my Grand lay on her tummy.  Thumb in mouth.

I knew just how she felt.