Formerly a creative director and writer at NY and NJ ad agencies, I'm now retired and living in Oregon, USA, with my husband and countless dust balls.
With this blog, I specifically hope to reach "mid-century moderns" -- women born in the '50's -- with content and observations about the issues we deal with every day. But I welcome all readers of any age, sex, orientation, etc… you youngsters will eventually be my age too, and I love reading everyone’s comments!
Less than a week after returning home from our “trip that wasn’t”, my husband fell and broke his wrist as well as sustaining a small but painful crack in one of his vertebrae. It’s been nonstop hospital stays, physical therapy, doc appointments, shopping for various meds and home care equipment, etc.
Hence, the lack of posts.
It’s a vivid reminder that our health is everything. And that caregivers, whether professional or family, have a really difficult job to do. Hats off to those who work in nursing and healthcare, or anyone caring for a parent or partner.
Dear older readers: Get those bone scans, keep up with annual screenings, stay active mentally and physically, and remain motivated by always having something you’re looking forward to doing in the future.
And you youngsters: Don’t be too smug; you’ll get older too, if you’re lucky!
There’d been warning signs: first, Dear Husband had some sinus issues ten days ago. Then I came down with bronchitis a week ago, but I was taking antibiotics and feeling better. DH had a low temperature and a cough, but our Covid tests were negative and we figured we could tough it out: After all, it was a long cruise and we could rest on the ship until we were both 100%. So we packed at the last minute and decided to go for it.
Mother Nature had other plans.
The forecast had been for light snow Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The airport was expected to be clear. Our flight was on schedule when we left the house Thursday morning five hours before the noon departure to allow for rush hour traffic.
The first hour of the drive was fine; just some flurries. But problems started when we hit the main highway. (Note to ODOT: it’s winter in Oregon; do you not have salt trucks??). After about a half hour, we started to see trucks on the side of the road affixing chains. A few that seemed stalled or stuck. And the road suddenly became a frozen wasteland.
Fairly soon, traffic stopped altogether and we crawled along for another hour, passing more and more stalled trucks and abandoned cars. Nonetheless, my intrepid husband steered us safely to PDX, where we parked and made our way to the ticket counter. This was now 10:30 so we were cutting it a bit closer than ideal but the first flight was still showing as “on time”.
Until it wasn’t. It then transpired that there were no flights for that day or the next to get us down to Chile where the cruise was departing. All in all, 188 flights had been canceled, on a day described as the “second worst snow day in Portland history”. Lucky us.
With no way to get to Chile, we had to cancel the entire trip.
Dispirited, we left the airport for the two-hour drive home. The skies had cleared, the roads looked ok, traffic was moving.
Until it wasn’t. We were still on the airport exit road when everything suddenly stopped. We could see there’d been an accident not far in front of us. But a bright yellow emergency vehicle was arriving so that looked promising. There was an abandoned car to our right, and a black Jeep had tried to drive around a truck further up the road and slid into it. The truck behind that truck couldn’t move either.
So we sat. And sat. And, little by little, the emergency guys moved the wrecked cars off the road and then hooked up all the stopped cars to drag them one at a time up a hill to the left of the trucks– which still weren’t moving even after the wrecks had been cleared. We never did find out why.
Just as we were next in line to be towed to the main road, the ODOT guy told us it would be quite a while so we should back up to the access road instead. This put us in the wrong direction, leading us to more icy back roads before we could get back to a highway.
We made it home ten hours after we’d left and collapsed into bed, where we spent most of yesterday. Next comes the fun part of sorting out the trip cancelation insurance.
On balance, we’ve been lucky. In all our travels, this is the first time we’ve been unable to get to our destination, and nobody plowed into us on those frozen roads. But going forward, we will plan to arrive at least a day before we need to be somewhere — especially if it’s a destination with limited flight options.
A woman I know, owner of her own business, single mother of two, and a kind, cheerful, truly good person, has just had her heart broken. And it makes me really angry.
“Lynn”, who hadn’t dated anyone for five years, met the man in question online. Normally, this could be a red flag in itself, but one of her clients vetted him through her own company, and Lynn proceeded to get to know “Ted” over the course of nine months, discovering a lot in common, making plans, and developing a deep connection.
Ted apparently worked for a shipping company and was posted overseas. The couple FaceTimed daily from his location, which seems to be legitimate. It all fell apart a week ago when he was due to return to the US and visit her, at which point he suddenly stopped returning calls and text messages.
Is Ted married? One would think so: someone away from home who thought an innocent flirtation would help pass the time? Or is he a sociopath who constructed an elaborate web of lies, replete with fake background images? It doesn’t matter.
I’m sad that this lovely woman is hurt, embarrassed, and feels humiliated. She says, “At 50, I should know better.” I tried to assure her that trusting someone and assuming the best doesn’t make you a fool, it makes you normal. How would we navigate life if we were always suspicious and cynical? Easier said than done, though, right?
I told Lynn a bit of my own story: an ex-husband who lied, stole, cheated, and stole some more, all without one bit of regret. Luckily, one divorce and four years later at age 58, I finally connected with the right person. Being trustworthy is, in my opinion, the single most attractive characteristic a partner can have. The rest is gravy.
A: The average cumulus cloud weighs 1.1 million pounds. Wow!
They look so soft and fluffy up there. But we all know both air and water have weight, so they must weigh SOMETHING, right?
If clouds are made up of particles, then they must have weight and density (the weight for a chosen volume, such as a cubic inch or meter).
To calculate weight, scientists evaluate the weight of the water droplets in the cloud, plus the weight of the air (mostly above the cloud, pressing down). One estimate of cumulus cloud density is given at https://www.sciencealert.com/this-is-how-much-a-cloud-weighs, as a density of about 0.5 gram per cubic meter. A 1-cubic kilometer (km3) cloud contains 1 billion cubic meters.
Doing the math: 1,000,000,000 x 0.5 = 500,000,000 grams of water droplets in our cloud. That is about 500,000 kilograms or 1.1 million pounds (about 551 tons), or roughly 100 elephants. But, just as oil floats on water because it’s less dense, that “heavy” cloud is floating over your head because the air below it is even heavier— the lesser density of the cloud allows it to float on the dryer and more-dense air.
What happens to a cashmere sweater that can’t be worn any longer? It probably will be thrown out, making it — and you — a contributor to fashion’s colossal waste problem.
Ralph Lauren has just unveiled an alternative option: a new cashmere recycling program. Starting Jan. 24, consumers in the United States, Britain and the European Union can request a printable, paid postage label from the Ralph Lauren website to send unwanted, 100 percent cashmere items from any brand to be recycled. Those clothes will go to Re-Verso in Tuscany, Italy, a facility that produces regenerated yarns and fabrics used by fashion companies, including Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher and Patagonia.
While some fast fashion giants offer textile recycling, questions persist over where these clothes are going. And although luxury fashion rental and repair initiatives are ramping up, alongside the increased use of recycled materials in product lines, few luxury companies have embraced large-scale recycling efforts.
“One of the biggest overall blockers to textile recycling is that the current infrastructure for getting products back in the system is not strong, partly because mixed material products are often all bundled together,” said Claire Bergkamp, chief executive of Textile Exchange, an industry group that helps to develop fiber and materials standards that fashion and textile brands can use in efforts to reduce their overall environmental footprint.
What makes this initiative interesting, she added, is the focus on a single material collection — in this case, cashmere — and the involvement of a recycler who knows what to do with it.
“This means that there is a much higher likelihood that the cashmere here will actually be recycled into something of a high quality and value and given a new life,” she said.
The motivations driving the Ralph Lauren program aren’t completely altruistic. It is the latest installment of the company’s circularity strategy rollout, which included the unveiling of a new Cradle to Cradle, or C2C Certified, $995 Purple Label cashmere crew neck sweater in November. The certification, which is issued by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, uses a strict science-based methodology to assess products across five categories: material health, product circularity, clean air and climate protection, water and soil stewardship and social fairness.
Some changes will be visible to consumers. The brand’s Purple Label — the signifier of the very top tier of Ralph Lauren products since 1994 — will now have to be white, in order to comply with the dye requirements of the certification. The C2C cashmere sweater is the first of five core products that Ralph Lauren aims to be C2C certified by 2025. Across its Purple Label and Collection lines, the company added, C2C products will soon amount to roughly 20 percent of overall cashmere sales, which have grown by nearly 30 percent since the start of the pandemic. But to reach gold status, Ralph Lauren needed to find a more sustainable way for consumers to get rid of their old clothes too.
“To meet C2C gold level standards for the new cashmere sweater, there was a requirement in place that meant a program had to be in place that would enable the recycling of that product,” said Devon Leahy, the corporate head of sustainability at Ralph Lauren.
The fashion supply chain is very complicated, and the origin of most clothing is opaque. The C2C certification is significant because it means that Ralph Lauren, and its partners, can account for every step of its production, from farm to finished product. So far, only small brands like Alabama Chanin or Mother of Pearl, or extremely expensive ones (like Bamford or Loro Piana, whose cashmere sweaters retail for closer to $3000) have publicly said that they are up to such a task. Ralph Lauren, one of the biggest names in global fashion, earned annual revenues of $6.2 billion last year.
Re-Verso has been recycling “pre-consumer” cashmere, or waste material collected from garment factories, for almost a decade, but this program will be the first to be directly sourced from a brand’s consumers, explained Marco Signorini, the company’s head of marketing. Currently, Re-Verso recycles around 600 tons of cashmere a year, a figure he hopes will now rise.
At a time when more luxury brands are investing directly in — and monopolizing — suppliers, Ralph Lauren will not have exclusivity rights or ownership of any of the regenerated materials that are produced from the cashmere sourced from the program. The brand will also not be selling recycled cashmere pieces as part of its luxury collections.
To what extent customers will buy into the program, however, remains to be seen. Ultimately, without their participation, the program can’t work.
Katie Ioanilli, chief global impact and communications officer at Ralph Lauren, said the C2C certification lets consumers know the fabric “will biodegrade in a non-disruptive way. And those with old cashmere items have a new option on how they might do that responsibly and with minimal hassle. It might not be perfect. But to us, it feels like a start.”
Elizabeth Paton is a reporter for the Styles section, covering the fashion and luxury sectors in Europe. Before joining The Times in 2015, she was a reporter at the Financial Times both in London and New York. @LizziePaton
THUMBS DOWN to a local (not inexpensive!) restaurant that adds a 3.5% service charge for paying with a credit card without noting this on their menu or website, or posting it prominently at the entrance, as the law requires. We’d all been enjoying dinner until this unpleasant surprise, compounded by the server telling us “everyone does it”, which is simply not the case.
Unfortunately, we won’t be going back.
THUMBS UP to another nice restaurant in the area that doesn’t charge customers who use credit cards, telling us they consider it one of their business costs. (On a related note, I wish restaurants in the US would pay their staff more and price “service” into their bottom line, as is common in Europe.)
THUMBS UP to whoever invented pre-washed vegetables and salad. And a hearty THUMBS DOWN to whoever invented those horrible, non-biodegradable, stick-to-everything, packing “peanuts”.
THUMBS DOWN to ink cartridges with the lifespan of a mayfly.
THUMBS DOWN to whoever cancelled our upgraded seats for an upcoming trip. (The airline blames the cruise company and the cruise company faults the airline. Hmm.) THUMBS UP to the airline agent who spent 45 minutes on the phone sorting out the issue and reinstating our seats. They’re not nearly as good as the original ones, since almost nothing is available now, but she worked wonders.
January is the time for resolutions, so these are my fashion promises to myself, inspired by the ever-delightful Lady Sarah’s blog:
I will not save my “good” stuff for special occasions; I will create opportunities to use and enjoy them
I will purge my wardrobe of items I don’t wear, except for things I will wear when I:
Lose those pesky pandemic pounds
I will avoid sale temptation, unless it’s something I truly need and would buy at full price
I will not kid myself that something that looks fabulous on a 20-year-old model or “influencer” will look the same on a septuagenarian
Abruptly changing topics:
Recently, friends got rid of their massage chair because it made “weird” noises. I immediately wondered: “Weird, how? Did it moan, or what?!” And can we expect similar commentary from other home items, e.g., a burping refrigerator, a computer that shrieks when it reveals our bank balance, a coffee machine that gets progressively louder if one drinks too much caffeine??
Happy Christmas/Boxing Day/Hanukkah/Sunday, depending on where you are and what (if anything) you celebrate. It’s been a hectic week here, what with my daughter visiting from California (a good thing), and the garage door suddenly deciding to break down (a very-not-good thing), though with a happy ending since I was miraculously able to find a mechanic to fix it.
Hope you are all enjoying some time off from work and some time doing whatever’s meaningful. To that end, I have to share this amazing video celebrating Hanukkah, xxAlisa
Travel is a wonderful way to broaden our horizons… and our waistlines, n’est-ce pas?
Dear Husband and I have just returned from two weeks in France, a trip that was slightly more ambitious (a.k.a., complicated) than might have been ideal. Since many of you have been to Paris I won’t go into detail here, other than to note that the city seemed to have especially poor air quality versus previous visits, not helped by the ubiquitous smokers everywhere. (How is this still a ‘thing’ ?!) And for the love of all that’s holy do NOT arrive for one day in Bordeaux on Nov. 1 which is a holiday, and then return for another day on a Monday when the museums are closed. Oh well, the Intercontinental hotel is still a great place to hang out.
We’d both been eager to visit the Dordogne (inspired by our love of Martin Walker‘s delightful Bruno, Chief of Police novels) and planned the trip based on our schedules, which proved rather an error: Once the tourist season ends (Oct. 31) it REALLY ends, and not only attractions but most shops and restaurants are closed. Note to future travelers: you can avoid the worst of the craziness by traveling in late Sept/early October when the weather is still warm. We also did not realize we had chosen a school holiday period (cue hand smacking head), which also meant crowded trains and limited seating for the Paris/Bordeaux connection. (Bordeaux is well worth visiting but otherwise I suggest flying/taking the train directly to Bergerac rather than renting a car in Bordeaux, as we did, at the rather harrowing 4th-level and hard-to-find train station location.)
Most important — since the Sarlat tourist office had not clued me in when I’d contacted them weeks before — you still need to prearrange tickets for the caves and other points of interest.
Let the photos begin! First up, Montignac, and our home base at the gorgeous Hôtel de Bouilhac.
Of course, we have to visit Lascaux IV, which is an exact replica of the original cave. I was lucky enough to visit the real one as a child in 1960 before it was closed to the public due to threats of deterioration.
On to Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, one of many beautiful villages in the area.
Above is La Roque-Gageac, a lovely town but too far up the cliff to explore when rain is threatening.
A pretty church in Carsac-Aillac:
Another day, we head to the farmers’ market in Périgueux, which is a lively spot at the base of the cathedral.
Which makes us hungry, so we stroll around looking for lunch, and stumble onto a terrific Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Epicurien, quite by accident.
The next day, we discover the fascinating museum of prehistory in Les Eyzies, a must if you visit the region. It is a stunning reminder that prehistoric people living 15,000-20,000 years ago were creative, practical, family-oriented, and artistic.
And, it’s built into the cliff (pretty amazing in and of itself), with more spectacular views.
The lovely towns of Trémolat, Cadouin, and Limeuil are also worth a visit.
A major highlight of the trip: the cave at Font-de-Gaume, which unlike Lascaux is the real deal. We are a group of four (joining us, a couple from Paris who’ve never been here before) with a guide who explains the drawings in both French and English. After climbing the steep hill to the cave’s entrance, it’s a dramatic conclusion to our time in Périgord.
And, finally, the food. I don’t think we had a bad meal anywhere, and so much of it was as gorgeous as it was delicious.