Saturday, October 13, 2018

My Return

I have this tendency, taught to me early in life, to bury myself in work. Which is okay for a while but then I need to re-surface and have fun again. I'm coming out of a two-month period where I've neglected blogging and everything else I enjoy. Need to fix that!

Which is a weak reason for a post but I feel I need to re-connect with you, my blogging friends. Connection is important and, even inadvertent, I never want to neglect anyone. I do my best to follow and comment on your blogs. I re-commit to that whenever my head pops out of work-mode.

A lot of "re-" words, huh? That's a sign I've spent too long underwater. I can't wait until the day I can afford to stop working and pursue my passions full-time. My "retirement" won't be leisure but, rather, active efforts to do the activities I love, like writing, reading, motorcycle-riding, fashion and blogging.

Do you ever bury yourself in work or home-maintenance or child-rearing? I wonder how common that is. BTW, one can never say this enough -- THANK YOU FOR VISITING! I cherish your interest and effort in coming here. Somehow I will reward you. Promise.

Random topic for discussion: I drink a lot of tea and look for ways to flavor it. One of my favorites is honey. I recently discovered there's one -- and only one -- honey that has scientifically-proven health benefits. It's called Manuka honey from New Zealand. In addition to the health benefits, Manuka tastes great -- earthy and rich. It has the depth of flavor I crave in every food.

Because of the health benefits, Manuka honey is very expensive. A problem arose due to the premium price -- counterfeiting. As much as 90% of stuff sold as Manuka is not really Manuka but just cheap ordinary honey, mislabeled to sell for more money. So, you have to verify authenticity by buying from sellers who are reputable and certify their product, like Steens.

Manuka honey makes a great gift for someone who's birthday is coming up... hint, hint!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

"Ninth Street Women"

Grace Hartigan was the greatest female artist of the 20th Century. A new book about her and four fellow artists was just published ("Ninth Street Women"). The story the book tells is also covered in an excellent article in The New Yorker.

I knew Grace. For several years in the early 1980's, she was teacher/mentor to Maura, a woman I lived with for twenty years. Grace was head of a graduate art school in Baltimore; Maura and her friend Joan were Grace's favorite students. Maura had a deep personal bond with Grace and we socialized many times, both there and at Manhattan art-shows.

Grace was the first artist of her generation to have a painting purchased by the Museum of Modern Art. Her fame in the 1950's was meteoric, particularly since, as a woman, she was categorically underestimated. Her work deserved acclaim which it received from critics and collectors from the Fifties until her death in 2008. For 30 years, Grace lived in Baltimore teaching graduate students, popping up to New York for occasional shows and events.

Grace had a colorful, complex life. She had wild times with notorious friends, like painter Jackson Pollock, poet Frank O'Hara and art-dealer John Bernard Myers. She was also acquaintances with the other notable female painters of the time (Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell). After rejecting comfortable family life in a New Jersey suburb, Grace devoted herself to art -- and lived dirt-poor during the early years. She and her friends struggled to make ends meet while creating great work. The book describes that New York scene in the Fifties and Sixties, with reference to many of the crazy characters in Grace's life. In her later years, she told us stories about that time in greater, more scandalous detail.

Grace told Maura that with students of her caliber, Grace's job was not to teach them art but, rather, how to live as an artist. She succeeded in that -- Maura has been a painter continuously since then. She lives and works in Wales now.

I recommend the book as an entertaining historical account of a wild group of artists whose work in the middle of the last century changed the face of art. They warrant deeper examination than our culture has given them so far.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Pants Are Not Just For Boys

When I get a chance to wear women's clothing, the last thing I think about is pants. Why would I want to wear pants? I wear pants every day as a man so my female eye turns to dresses and skirts. But that's foolish -- pants can be feminine, too.

My friend Sheila, who displays inventive outfits at Ephemera, is constantly showing me that pants are attractive. And feminine. Seeing her outfits causes me to re-think my bias against pants.

Last Saturday I was walking around my neighborhood and saw a sign for a garage sale. I headed down the suburban street to find a lawn full of boring bourgeois items. I kept searching and found a clothes-rack in the back -- and the clothes were nice. Squee!!

I've been looking for men's shirts with French cuffs because I have cufflinks I want to wear more often. But such shirts are hard to find and normally expensive (e.g., over $100). The garage sale rack had two beautiful new blue shirts with French cuffs. I snapped 'em up. I also found a pair of women's pants and a simple blue dress. Nothing had a price on it. I took the four pieces to the owner, curious what this was going to cost.

The owner was female, about 50. She opened with "you picked the best stuff!" She said the shirts belonged to her ex-fiance: she bought them for him and he didn't like 'em. The pants and dress were hers. She pointed out the pants are from Henri Bendel, a luxury brand that sadly just announced it's closing after 123 years.

The woman looked at the four items. She said $10 would be enough for all of them. She said the proceeds are being donated to a local animal-rescue charity. I gave her $20, told her to keep the change and felt I'd scored a huge bargain. The shirts alone are worth over $200.

Here are the pants with by an embroidered top from the 1980's which I bought today at my favorite store (Rosie's Vintage in Huntington).

Do you wear pants?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Looking For A Party

I found this pretty party-dress at a church thrift-store. It was on sale for $2. Two dollars! I bought it even though it's a bit small, because that low price couldn't be resisted.

Now I just need a party to wear it to. Can I come over to your place?!

"The Fairy" (2011)

Oh, my goodness! This French comedy is so wacky, so funny it makes me laugh hard. I watched it three times in a row just to enjoy the humor again and again.

The movie is about a woman, Fiona, who believes she's a fairy. She may be or she may be crazy. She falls in love with a bored hotel-clerk, Dom, and they have bizarre adventures, such as dancing at the bottom of the ocean. Fiona and Dom do physical comedy of the sort that hasn't been seen since the early days of the cinema (e.g., Charlie Chaplin).

The movie is obscure so nobody's seen it here in the States, but the couple who made it (from Belgium) are well-known in Europe as comedians. They've been romantically attached since the 1980's and their personal bond shows in the effortless comedy.

I guarantee you've never seen anything like this!

Monday, September 17, 2018


I find myself attracted to this dress. At first glance, its style seems conventional but, on closer examination, you realize it has a subtle rebellious streak. That's kinda like me!

What do you think?

P.S., Body-makeup works!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Have You Ever

... applied makeup somewhere other than your face?

In my last outfit-post, I didn't realize until too late that I have a "farmer's tan" -- dark forearms from a lot of outdoor activity in male t-shirts. The arms contrast unpleasantly with my light-skinned shoulders and chest. I don't like the look because it reminds me of my (public) male persona, the exact opposite of the feminine appearance I want to create when wearing women's clothing.

So... searching for a cure, I'm wondering if I can wear makeup (e.g., foundation) on my arms. Is that allowed? Have you ever done anything similar to your neck, shoulders, arms or legs? I've heard some women cover up freckles there, so maybe it's an option.

On a related topic... this may seem odd but, someday before I die, I want to get a feminine tan-line: e.g., the kind you acquire from wearing a bikini bathing suit in the sun. Things like that plumb the depth of my soul.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Beauty In Motion

You might think I'm attracted to motorcycles for thrills, the joys of going fast. Well, that's part of it but what also draws me to two-wheeled monsters (and the brave souls who ride them) is their beauty -- how motorcycles interact with nature and bend laws of physics. Here are some illustrations of that appeal, taken at the racetrack yesterday.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Starting Early

Tomorrow morning I'm riding down to see Superbike racing. The riders there are amazing.

How did they get so good? They started young. Last year I watched young riders -- children, actually -- practice at the racetrack. Here's how cool they are.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Summer Flirt

Before Summer ends, I want to wear something fun and flirty. So I put this together.

A peach halter-dress with black tights. Pink flats decorated with black bows. Colorful jewelry and an orange lippy. What do you think?

Yes, I know... my forearms are more tanned than my upper arms. That's from a season of wearing men's t-shirts in the sun. Sadly nothing I can do about it now.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Scary Monster

I was walking into my local library when I spotted this scary dude. Taken aback, I then realized he's an art sculpture. Hmm...

In the library I checked out a DVD ("Black Panther"). The movie was better than I expected -- a coherent story with social relevance. I usually avoid superhero flicks (too many fights, too little artistry) and my expectations were low. The surprise was welcome. Have you seen the film? What'd ya think?

Are you enjoying the holiday weekend?

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Motorcycle Racing

A week from today I'm riding down to South Jersey to see top-level motorcycle racing. The racing season has ten events held at different racetracks around the country. I go to the one at NJ Motorsports Park not only because it's the closest but because I rode that track myself. I know its twists, turns and elevations intimately. It's amazing to see pros go 200 mph on the same stretch of track where I hit only 140 mph. (That was with my old bike [Yamaha FZ-1]; my new sportbike [BMW S1000R] can do 165 mph.)

The two-mile track has 12 curves of varying radius with a few switchbacks that demand total concentration. After a few hours of exhausting riding, I forgot about one of the switchbacks and almost crashed. I handled the initial right-hand turn but forgot about a sharp left-hand curve which immediately followed. I went in hot thinking I could ease out of the first turn, forgetting I needed to make the second one. The only way to avoid an ambulance trip was to lean the motorcycle much farther than I'd ever done and, through sheer force of will, I did that. My maneuver surprised me -- facing the situation, I thought a crash was NOT the way I wanted to end the day and somehow I made the turn happen. The memory of that experience is vividly etched in my brain.

Watching pro racers handle these same curves smoothly and at even higher speed is mesmerizing. Plus the engines of their not-street-legal racebikes scream at a volume you can't imagine. The whole scene is viscerally exciting. Wanna join me?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Beautiful Images

I readily admit to being unusual. Despite (outwardly) being a mature man, I regularly dream about life as a teenage girl. And an adult woman. And a female child. All of the above.

Which explains why, when shopping at my local vintage store this week, I bought a 50-year old paint-by-numbers kit. Its appeal lies in the beauty of feminine painted images. They're adorable, don't you think? Which is your favorite?

I plan to display this as a home-decoration. Looking at it makes me smile.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Summer At The Beach

I rode my motorcycle to the beach today (Sunken Meadow State Park). The ocean, sun and air were wonderful.

Do you go to the beach? Or, if you're in New Jersey, "down the shore"?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Weekend To Remember

Robin and I had a wonderful long weekend. We rode up to Hudson, NY, which is where all the cool kids go. Proof of that is a cute, young couple of British actors we met at our B&B. In their early thirties, they live in NYC and took a train up to escape the city in Summer. We'll be looking for Chris in some TV commercials he made.

Our B&B, built in 1840, was lovely. Beautiful accomodations and charming hosts. They made us delicious breakfasts every day with herbs from their garden.

Hudson is full of artisans so Robin had a field day shopping for earrings. She ogled many hand-made pairs and, fortunately, selected ones that cost only 3-figures and not 4-figures. It was a close call.

Perhaps the best part of the trip was visiting Olana, a historic site combining art, history and nature. The most famous landscape painter of the 1800's, Frederick Edwin Church, was lucky enough to become rich during his lifetime and he built his dream-house in a spot offering the best views of upstate country. Church filled his house with artwork and artifacts collected while travelling around the world; much of it is rare Middle Eastern and Asian objects you seldom see here. The views were magnificent. Pics below.

Fate smiled on us when, after touring Connecticut backroads today, we slid onto the Bridgeport ferry one minute before it set sail. Ferries often give preferential treatment to motorcycles (we were pulled ahead of a long line of cars) because they can squeeze us in spots no car can fit. A perfect way to end a perfect trip!