Mailboxes still deliver — fall fashion, that is

My husband, John Pitts, and I (usually) have different leave-for-work schedules. I’m gone before the mail arrives, so one of his morning chores is to go out to the mailbox and bring the mail in, which also serves as a brief escape for Smart Cat to dart out the door and chew some grass BECAUSE SHE CAN. Yesterday, as he drove to work, he called me and in a perplexed and slightly apprehensive tone, said Fall fashion magazinesthe following: “You got one of those magazines again.” As I tried to figure out which of my preferred subscriptions (Mother Jones? Vanity Fair?) he was objecting to (in the political sense, of course, because that’s the only objection I will allow him) , he added, “You know, one of those huge fashion things. Vogue or something.” Yup, it’s that time of year again — that much-anticipated season when our old-fashioned mailboxes groan under the weight of our old-fashioned fall-fashion magazines, just like the good ol’ days. It is a true thing that no matter how much I love loading up an iPad with digital goodies, nothing beats settling in with a cup of coffee and that thick stack of glossy-paged cold-weather fantasy and thinking things like, “If only I were 30 pounds lighter and 30 years younger, I could wear that $5,000 pair of sequined pants. To the office.” Of course, if you dropped the 10-pound combined weight of the September issues of InStyle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar on your trendily stilettoed foot, you would not be able to wear said stiletto, but that’s a risk we’re willing to take. So what’s new for fall? Plaids. Solids. Big bags. Little bags. Wide legs. Skinny legs. Circle skirts. Pencil skirts. Luckily, my favorite designer — the T.J. Maxx clearance rack — has all of these choices. And more. 

Screw Tightly the Metal Cap

It’s a gift, really — when you unpack your purchase and reach for the “Instruction” sheet (because I am a girl and that’s what we DSCN3049do) and you suddenly stumble into a United Nations of mis-translations and awkward English and the resulting delightful cacophony of words. This came in the fillable lamp base I picked up at our local Tuesday Morning. I especially love the courtesy of the “please” in Instruction No. 1 and the slightly forceful directive to “enjoy your lamp” in No. 5 — as if maybe if I didn’t, somebody would come over and make sure that I did. Then there’s the “put stuff inside of glass” in No. 3 — I imagine here that the author had spent hours searching for the correct term for “stuff” and then simply gave up in exhaustion and thought “Well, it’s ‘stuff,’ so let’s just say ‘stuff’.” And I only recently learned that “sea star” is another name for starfish and I think it’s a much prettier and more accurate name since they are, in fact, not fish at all. (Also they are endangered — like so many other cool ocean things.) And, of course, there’s the most elegant phrase of all: “Screw tightly the metal cap,” in Instruction No. 4. I’m going to talk like this all day today — “Get quickly out of my way, you idiot driver, you.” — and see if it helps any. Naturally, however, this “instruction” didn’t do me any good because immediately after putting stuff inside the glass and screwing tightly the metal cap and before preparing to enjoy my lamp, I disregarded the vital Instruction No. 1 and proceeded to pick up the lamp by the metal cap. Luckily, I did avoid breakage and quickly regrouped as advised. This guy sure knew what he was talking about.

Off To A Good Start –

Coffee?Well, hello again, blogosphere! Have you missed me? I have missed you these past few days weeks months that I’ve been too lazy too undermotivated too incredibly busy doing really important stuff to sit down and write. Which is not a good thing for a (sometimes) writer. So today is the day I get back to it. Coincidentally, today also is the day I will a) start a healthy eating plan and lose 10 pounds, b) clean out and organize the attic AND garage and c) go visit in actual person the friends I’ve been meaning to catch up with for the past few days weeks months. Or I could stay home and watch the SEC Network and reruns of Castle. Hmm … so many choices. Truthfully, I should have just gone back to bed after my unfortunate attempt to make coffee this morning before I’d had, you know, some coffee. I understand now why the first step in “How to Grind Coffee Beans in Your New Bodum Bistro Electric Burr Coffee Grinder” is “Place ground-coffee glass container securely under coffee-bean release.” The learning already is starting today. Stay tuned!

That Just Happened, or Things I’ve Heard Lately That Made Me Laugh

I know, I know. An all-SEC men’s basketball final would not be good for the sport, but I still fantasize about the joys of a Florida v. Kentucky battle. Sadly, it’s not to be. This year, at least. So now the question is can Kentucky defend SEC’s honor? We’ll see …

In the meantime, here are some things people have said to me or I’ve (over)heard that made me laugh — sometimes embarrassingly loud and obnoxiously. What can I say? I like a good laugh.

  • Our newly 6- and 2 1/2-year-old grandsons came to stay with us for a few days last week. Older Daughter is expecting So-Far-Unidentified Grandbaby no. 3. At one point Younger Grandson and I were talking about family. “What do you think Mommy’s doing right now?” I asked. “Mommy tired. Mommy lay down,” he said. That pretty much covers it.
  • One of the things Older Grandson did while at our house was set up an obstacle course for his brother using my workout gear (cardio steps, yoga blocks, hand weights and stretch bands). He then asked for paper and markers. “Are you going to draw medals for him?” I asked, admiring his creativity. “No, Kacky,” he sighed in the way that means “Dear old Kacky — let me explain to you how this new-fangled world works” and looked at me patiently. “I’m going to download his medals from medals.com.” Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?
  • Even Younger Grandson knows his way around mobile devices. We were staring intently at my iPad, waiting on a new game. He looked up at me and nodded wisely. “Loading,” he said.
  • On to some adult humor. Not “adult” in that way — “adult” in the “I-did-something-so-silly-that-my-husband-fussed-at-me-and-I-couldn’t-even-tell-my-mom” way. And, strangely enough, by “I” this time I DO NOT mean “me.” Anyway, this past weekend I was a hostess for our town’s home and garden tour. My assignment was in the house of a young couple who had just renovated their first home. The husband, who shall remain anonymous for reasons to become clear, owns one of our favorite restaurants in town. Between my tour speech (“The master bedroom previously was a den. The bathroom and walk-in closet were added in 2010.”), I of course spent LOTS of time chatting in the kitchen. One conversation turned to gardening, and the wife talked about her commitment to avoiding pesticides and herbicides in their yard. “In fact, last year I ordered ladybugs from amazon.com because I’d read they eat aphids,” she said. We older women, including her mother, sort of glanced at each other, thinking — I’m sure — the same thing: “You actually ordered bugs for your garden? Through the mail?” Maybe one of us even said this aloud because she grimaced and said, “I know. I know. And (insert husband’s name here) even got upset with me because I had them sent to the restaurant. I didn’t think that one through.” Her mother couldn’t believe it was the first time she’d heard this story and the rest of us were laughing so hard I’m sure we scared some of the tour-goers away. And you know I’ve never felt the same about ladybugs since the Great Infestation of ’92, when I vacuumed them off of our curtains by the hundreds every day for two weeks. Stupid ladybugs. You’d better fly away home.

Go Wildcats! Win one for the SEC!!!

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — Identity Crisis

Having an identity crisis doesn’t seem to be in style anymore. You don’t hear much about it. We don’t pull it out as an excuse —  “Oh, I’m sorry I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning yesterday. I’m having an identity crisis.” — like we used to. And that’s a shame. It sure was a handy shortcut for “I’m just not feeling your Bakery goodiesunreasonable demands right now because I’m questioning the whole meaningless existence of life so just back off. Also, my espresso machine broke.” I guess “identity crisis” has been replaced with “identity theft,” which not only is a frustrating and unwelcome tangle of legal problems but leads to further existential wanderings that require more than a perfect macchiato to fix. Which you can’t buy because some criminal jerk has stolen your identity and rendered your spending capabilities useless. On the other hand, sometimes people simply don’t get your name right. I’ve dealt with this for years. IdentityMy name is one of those that’s easily mis-written: “Kathy” and “Woods” are what I usually get. I’m used to that. I don’t take it personally. And even when folks call me by my former last name — that of my ex-husband’s — I can handle it. (Although my now-husband vehemently objects to people ascribing that name to him.) Even when people call me “Mrs. Pitts,” giving me my husband’s last name which I never changed to, I’m cool. But when I get letters to all three versions of me — or, because I personally am so important to this company, “Current Resident” — it sort of makes you stop and think. And I have no idea who “Cassie Woods” is, although she sounds like someone who is small and elvish and has long curly hair and knows the difference between a pansy and a peony. That person is not me, but the bakery guy who took my phone order for pick-up apparently thought it was. Nice try, bakery guy. Actually, I think he’s on to something: “Hello, XYZ Bakery? I’ll take a half-pound of wild-yeast sourdough, sliced; two almond croissants and a new name, please. I can pick up in an hour.” It’s a whole new business model.

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — Hair Disillusionment

Crossroads Museum, Corinth, Miss.Here is proof that mirrors lie. Big time. This is me (bottom left-hand side) at a recent morning meeting of the Corinth, Miss., tourism board at the Crossroads Museum. Barely an hour before this photo, I had gotten ready and curled my hair carefully, spending my normal 20 minutes or so on maneuvering the curling wand and applying all sorts of Guaranteed Moisturizer Anti-Aging Shiny Hair things. I’m not a natural hair person but I’ve been practicing and I sincerely believed that my mirror at home approved of this morning’s effort. I could hear it saying, “Girl, you are an awesomely talented curler.” I could see it reflecting luscious and smooth and soft Sofia-Vergara-style waves. I could head out of the house with Hair Confidence because my mirror said so. But … no. (Cue sound of brakes screeching.) So obviously my mirror has launched a guerrilla-attack campaign and Cannot Be Trusted anymore. Because what I see in this photo is not Sofia Vergara but rather did-this-woman-even-brush-her-hair-today? Sad. So sad. And terribly inconvenient. How much to pry a bathroom mirror off of a wall and stage a redo?

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — What Would Joan Wear?

I have a mad, mad girl-crush on Elementary’s Joan Watson. Well, more specifically, I have a mad girl-crush on Joan Watson’s closet. I want every single thing in it. Joan herself? Meh. I mean, she is fearless and compassionate and smart and can hold her on against her arrogant-yet-vulnerable Sherlock. But would she and I be friends? Not sure. She hardly ever smiles. I’m afraid she’d find me frivolous. (She probably never devotes a whole evening to catching up with The Bachelor. With accompanying wine and chocolate-chip cookie dough.) And do you think she’s been a bit cranky lately? As their friendship deepens, seems as if she and Sherlock pick at each other and are impatient with each more than they used to be. Although that’s probably just my Southerness politely raising a hand and saying nicely, “You know, y’all could say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ every once in a while. Wouldn’t hurt you.” (Also, does anybody ever clean 221b Baker Street? Their kitchen reminds me of the one in an almost-century-old house that tumblr_n0c33fwtZ61rgjdouo2_250friends and I rented in college: charmingly vintage teetering on big ol’ mess.) But back to Joan’s closet. I covet it. I want EVERYTHING Joan Watson wears. I fervently follow the blogs, Tumblr posts and Polyvore and Pinterest sets that follow her. Every week, I ponder her fashion choices: How does she make a red window-pane-tablecloth ruffly tiered dress paired with a big yellow handbag look so stylish? Is a black leather snakey-looking dress what all New Yorkers wear when chopping onions? And, most importantly, could I possible sneak the purchase of her $600 black ankle boots past my husband? (No, I could not.) The thing is, I can’t explain exactly why I like Joan’s wardrobe. I’m not a fan of her go-to colorblocking, I studiously avoid t-shirts with words and/or animals on them (I wore more than my quota in the tumblr_n0cl6zLL9J1rgjdouo2_250 (1)1980s) and some things I’d look ridiculous in (see “red window-pane-tablecloth ruffley tiered dress” above). But there’s something about the way she puts it all together that’s appealing. She’s strong, no-fuss, modern and confident — and her clothes say that. I want my clothes to say that, too. Unfortunately, my clothes usually say “This woman has too many cats and literally cannot hold her coffee.” But I’m getting there. I not only have several gray-tweed-knit-and-black-(fake)leather tops similar to this dress Joan wore recently (thank you, T.J. Maxx winter clearance racks!)  but I also have the EXACT SAME Brita filter pitcher Joan is pouring a glass of water from. Things are looking up.