Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Megan exceeded my expectations with her transformation of ties into a belt.  I never imagined doing what she did.  Check out her post; here is a closeup of the belt...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Male To Female

I'm talking about clothes, silly!  Why, what did you think I was referring to?!

I admire women who know how to sew and re-fashion clothes.  Their skills are almost magical.  They can transform an item into a completely-different type of clothing.

Megan is one such magician.  Recently, she took a man's shirt and made a woman's skirt out of it.  (See here.)  Megan is also a great blogger with regular outfit-posts.  I like her personal style and her passionate devotion to blogging.

Megan mentioned in passing that she wants to create a woman's belt from a man's necktie.  I happen to own a few ties... in fact, I have over 200.  (Take a look here.)  Many have outlived their usefulness and are just hanging there.  I suggested to Megan that she take a dozen off my rack and use them any way she wishes.  She did and they arrived in Tennessee today.

I'm eager to see what Megan does with them.  I'll keep you posted on her progress.  And check out her blog!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Aftermath

Well, Hurricane Irene came and went. She wasn't as bad as expected. Lot of rain and strong wind gusts, but no actual devastation. Our yard is full of broken tree branches, but no downed trees.

The only real effect is that we, and millions of others, lost electricity. Which means the lights don't turn on, the refrigerator no longer works and we're running out of hot water. (I dread tomorrow's cold shower... brrr!) No word on when the electricity will be restored.

Without power or Internet access at home, I had to travel to a nearby Starbucks where hordes of middle-class refugees are hovering with laptops and lattes. Not exactly hardship. More like petty inconvenience that, if taken in stride with the right attitude, is a fun change of pace from the rut of normal life.

Turning to the other disaster...

I want to thank all of you, deeply and sincerely, for your incredible words on the last post. You gave me needed perspective and I'm at peace now with that situation.

One unexpected benefit of your comments is that you told me something I've always wondered about -- how you perceive me and my blog. I am amazed at how accurately you see me. This is no small thing -- I've spent most of my life being invisible or misunderstood. To have nice, friendly people like you see me as my real self is a feat I never thought would occur. It blows me over more forcefully than any hurricane.

So thank you. The world really is full of wonders.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Hi guys.  I have three things to talk about.  I really need your help with the third one so, if the first two subjects don't interest you, just skip down to the bottom.  Thanks.

There's a hurricane heading straight to New York.  It will arrive later today.  Many people here are panicking.  The stores are sold out of flashlights, batteries, bottled water; the gas stations have long lines.  Mass transit is being shut down; all sports-games are cancelled, and Broadway shows are going dark.

I'm not concerned.  I've lived through hurricanes before.  I believe the fear gripping people is irrational and an overreaction.  Then again, if you don't see any new posts on this blog next week, perhaps I was washed out to shore...

A business-colleague took me to a ballgame last night.  We saw the N.Y. Mets beat the Atlanta Braves in new CitiField stadium.  Built two years ago, the stadium is much more modern than the old one it replaced.  When I was growing up, my dad used to take me to Shea Stadium to watch the Mets lose games.  The new ballpark is nicer and even has BBQ from a fancy NYC restaurant I've visited (Blue Smoke).

The game was good.  The Mets starter pitched a two-hit complete game that he later described as the best performance of his career.  It was.  And the rest of the team supported him with six runs.  I kept rubbing my eyes, disbelieving it was the Mets I was watching.  They are a lousy team -- under .500 and 22 games behind the Phillies.

Okay, now here's the tricky one.  Last week, someone hurt my feelings.  Badly.  A fellow-blogger whom I've known for a year, exchanged e-mails with, and previously felt supported by.  She left a comment on my blog that hurt me so deeply that -- for the very first and only time -- I deleted it.  Every time I read the comment, it hurt me again.  I felt leaving it up would continue making me feel sad.

The problem is, she wasn't trying to hurt my feelings.  I believe she had no malice in her heart.  She was just saying what she thought. 

What do you do with that?  I can't be angry with her, because she wasn't trying to offend me.  I'm reluctant to mention it to her, because she'll just say she wasn't trying to offend me (which I believe is true).  And yet, my feelings are still hurt.  I don't know how to repair them.  Worse, it's causing me to question whether you guys share her beliefs and if maybe I'm misinterpreting what I thought was your support of me as something else entirely.

The fellow-blogger's comment was about a subject of critical importance to me -- being who I am.  Her statement was candid: its essence said, "you are a freak and, if my husband acted the way you do, I couldn't love him."  I won't quibble with the first part (noting my social deviance), but I was wounded by the second part (that I'm unworthy of love).  Some of us are different, but we are all worthy of love.  Being different doesn't disqualify you from that basic human need.

I think she was simply saying what she believes.  Perhaps it is my mistake in assuming that, because she is friendly and reads my blog, she understands and supports me.  Those assumptions now seem patently false.

Do you have any advice on how I should react to this?  How I should handle it, if at all?

Why do you read my blog?  Is it because you like me, or am I merely a dancing bear whose oddity entertains you?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shifting Into Elegance

Continuing the theme of my last post, I'm shifting into elegance.  In both dress and attitude.

Here's an outfit I adore -- fancy, feminine and fun.  The Evan-Picone dress wasn't expensive -- I found it on sale for $24.  I realized that, with summer's fashion-lull, I hadn't bought any new clothes in months so I felt no guilt snatching it off the rack.

In my last post, I did a better-than-usual job with my makeup but the pictures were taken from so far away nobody could see it.  I'm remedying that here with a closeup to show you my efforts.  While my skill at applying makeup is still rudimentary, I do my best.  That attitude and a pair of Spanx are my tools.

Question: What occasion would this outfit be appropriate for?  A date night?  Cocktail party?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bringing Back Glamour

The hot summer months prompt us to wear casual clothes with little effort at style.  Most blogs have few outfits on display this time of year.

That situation may be okay for most of you, but I miss glamour!  I miss dressing up, wearing fancy clothes and trying on new ideas.

So, even if I'm out-of-step with the rest of you, I'm bringing back glamour.  I found a cute dress yesterday at Marshall's (a discount store) and offer it to you in the spirit of fashion.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I hope you had a nice weekend.

Robin and I enjoyed our anniversary in Philadelphia.  We dined at a fabulous restaurant with the couple who introduced us and spent all day Saturday walking around and taking in the sights.

I love cities and have visited many.  Each has its appeal and Philly is no exception.  Here are some photos...

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tenth Wedding Anniversary

On August 19, 2001, Robin and I got married.  On Friday, ten years will have passed.  They flew by actually.  It feels like yesterday.

Here are some photos from our wedding...

Fun Photos

The subject of my last post was sad (though important), so I want to lighten the mood.  Here are some fun old photos.  The first one is from my high school yearbook: that's me on the left.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Rabbit Hole"

"Rabbit Hole" is a powerful movie that was released last year.  It stars Nicole Kidman in one of the best performances of her career.  She received an Oscar nomination for the role.  Her husband in the film is portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, and two talented character-actors, Dianne Wiest and Sandra Oh, add depth to the cast.

The film is about a couple whose 4-year old boy was killed by a car.  Such profound loss rocks people to their core.  The movie studies how Nicole and Aaron's characters react to the tragedy.  The writing is real; the acting is convincing; and the direction is skilled.

Art is ruminative.  It considers human behavior, chews on it for a while, and then offers up insights and perspective.  Art can help us make sense out of seeming absurdity.  In an existential void, art teaches us how to find meaning and purpose.

The loss of a child is traumatic.  For parents, outliving their children feels unnatural.  The emotional force of the event is extreme and disorienting.

When I was ten, my three-year old cousin Eddie wandered away from his mother, fell into a newly-built in-ground swimming pool, and drowned.  Eddie's death traumatized my family.  Nobody could make sense of it; nobody had an explanation for the loss.  I watched the adults in my family stagger around confused and dazed.  Several of them drank heavily after hearing the news.  At Eddie's funeral, we all left the church and went to a bar.  My older cousin fed me drink after drink (we had bottles at our table) and I ended up drunk for the first time in my life.  I didn't even know what intoxication was then; I couldn't understand, when I got up, why my legs were rubbery and collapsed.

Eddie's parents (my mother's sister and her husband) began arguing constantly.  After a year or two, they broke up and divorced.  Eddie's father never said it in public, but everyone believes he blamed my aunt for Eddie's death.  He felt it was her fault for not watching Eddie closely enough and letting him get away, unsupervised, for the minutes it took to fall into a pool and drown.

"Rabbit Hole" is hard to watch but worth the effort.  It teaches valuable lessons, subtly.  You'll reflect on how humans can and can't handle serious loss.  All of us, at some point, face sad events; it helps to ponder them intellectually before emotional shock overwhelms us.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Things I Saw Today

Good Deeds

My general philosophy in life is to do good things without worrying about if they'll be rewarded.  I find that doing good is virtuous in itself.  Moreover, even if you care about calculating the return on your effort, experience teaches that karma rewards good work in multiple, mysterious ways.

I did a favor for a friend recently.  Years ago, she was the beneficiary of an academic scholarship which made a big difference in her life.  To re-pay that, she is now actively fundraising for the sponsor so it can help others.  She had a target goal; she asked me to help meet it; and I did my best.

I'd forgotten about the contribution until I received in the mail a bottle of pink nail-polish!  I never expected to be rewarded for my effort and am thrilled to receive a gift, especially one that implicitly supports my true nature.  Friends who recognize the real me by giving me girly gifts get mega-points for supportive recognition: more than just an item, they are giving me the gift of acceptance.  With my life-history, that is hugely significant and deeply appreciated.

Here is the nail-polish, freshly-applied this morning, on my toes in the backyard.  I'm out here relaxing in the sun, exploring my new iPad which can play music while I browse the web.  Life is good!

Do you believe in doing good deeds?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Barbie On Trial

Barbie is on trial.  Actually, Barbie dolls have been controversial since their introduction decades ago.  Many mothers and feminists dislike their busty appearance and lessons about social conformity they may be teaching young girls.  On the other hand, many girls like 'em!

I never had the opportunity to play with dolls.  (Cue the sad music...)  But, without going into that, I simply have to admit that I have no idea how dolls affect girls.  You guys have the experience and expertise on that -- what do you think?

A feminist blogger whom I've never read before just posed this question and she comes out on the side of Barbie.  She found playing with her dolls as a child to be beneficial to her.  Here's her thought-provoking post.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blogger Meetup

I've been following Lorena's blog for a long time but, because she lives in another country, I never expected to meet her in person.  When she called me Sunday to say she's passing through NYC for a visit with her relatives, I literally jumped at the chance to see her. 

And, boy, I'm glad I did.  We have a wonderful time meeting and learned oodles of stuff about each other that you just can't get online.  Lorena is beautiful, sweet and charming.  Her personality bubbles with enthusiasm and she's sharp as a tack.  She perceives everything.

Often, when we blog, we don't know if anyone is reading our words.  I was startled when Lorena mentioned personal facts about me in our conversation that she read on my blog.  She knew, for example, about members of my family who've died and she expressed approval of my decision to donate my prom dresses to charity.  Not all readers pay close attention to what we write but some, like lovely Lorena, do.  I really appreciate her interest in me and felt, for the first time, that maybe this blog actually touches real people.

We talked effortlessly about everything, including our mutual admiration of Sheila whose blog is the gold standard for fashion blogging.  When it came time to take a picture, Lorena wrote Sheila's name on a napkin and we held it up so Sheila will know we were thinking of her.  Here it is!

Do you have any blogger meetups planned?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lucille Ball (at 100)

Lucille Ball was one of our greatest comedians.  If she were alive, she would have been 100 this week.  (She died in 1989 at age 77.)  The number 100 is on my mind for some reason...

Unlike most early TV stars, Lucy is known to many of us from the widespread syndication of "I Love Lucy."  That classic show starred her husband at the time (Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo) with Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel and Fred Mertz, their neighbors and friends.

The antics Lucy got into, with their effects on her marriage, were naturally hilarious.  We can all relate to her good intentions and mistaken choices.

One of TV's earliest woman-writers, Madelyn Pugh Davis, was credited by Lucille Ball as helping refine the Lucy Ricardo character.  Davis died only this year at age 90.

Lucy's real-life daughter, Lucie Arnaz, says we should celebrate her mother's life because "she had one of the best lives ever."

Have you seen Lucille in anything?  In addition to her TV show, she did many movies, including "Stage Door" (with Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers) and a 1974 re-make of "Mame".

I blog; therefore, I am.
Ally Descartes

I had occasion last week to look for something in my blog.  In searching for it, I re-read my blog going back a few months.  I have to say, I was impressed!

I can't believe how much I've written, much of it substantive.  I've taken and shared photos of my life; I've conveyed my view of the world; I've described events I participated in; and I talked about the fascinating aspects of our lives.

Someone uttered surprise when I said recently that, after a long day of work, I relax by going into my closet, building an outfit, applying makeup, slipping on heels and lounging in front of the television.  I'll concede that most people don't do that -- but I ain't most people.  That activity, to me, is pure pleasure. 

I'm like the man who gets up at 4 a.m. to go fishing.  He resents putting effort into his job, but he'll put even more effort into his hobby and is thrilled to do so.

Blogging has become part of the fabric of my life.  It isn't "work," it's play.  Reading your blogs and coming up with new stuff here isn't hard; at times, I can't stop myself! 

I see that I'm averaging 25 posts a month, which is almost one a day.  That would be a draining pace if this were work, but it isn't.  I don't impose any arbitrary deadlines on my blog; I simply write when I have something to say and keep quiet when I don't.

I can't help but notice my number of followers -- 99 -- which hasn't changed in days and days.  I hope someone will put me out of my misery soon and flip that over to a hundred.  Even if you have to create a fictitious identity, end the suspense.  Please!

Just kidding.  :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Light Summer Dress

It's Summer, so I chose a perfect dress for hot weather: light, white and cute.  I paired it with the most comfy shoes I own, cork wedges from Payless.  To complete the outfit, I'm wearing a pretty new necklace that my friend dimi made with her own little hands.

I hope you're staying cool!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Our Fragile Lives

It's rare that I turn a client into a friend, but I did it with Larry.  Larry owns a small printing shop in town and, after representing him for a while, I decided to make him a friend. 

Larry has a buoyant and appealing personality.  I'd frequently stop by his store and talk for hours simply because I enjoyed his company.  Larry is 45 years old, unmarried, and has been caring for his elderly father.

I went to the hospital today.  Larry just had a heart attack and a stroke.  The stroke paralyzed his left side and caused some permanent brain damage.  The extent of the brain damage is unknown and his recovery will be uncertain.  Fortunately, Larry can think and speak, but they doubt he'll ever be able to walk again.  His face droops on the left side which may or may not improve.  He faces six months to a year of difficult physical therapy.  Nobody can predict how far he can come back.

Larry cried when he saw me.  His brother said he's depressed at the drastic change in his life.  I believe that when Larry saw me see him in this new diminished condition, it reinforced the realization that his life will never be the same again.  His future will be severely limited by these physical conditions.

I spent over an hour at the hospital until Larry got tired.  During that time, he cheered up a bit.  I tried to focus his attention on the positive things still in his life.  I didn't show him my emotion which was profound sadness.  Larry, previously so buoyant and happy, is now a shadow of that man.  He's smaller, weaker, his head is misshapen and he can't move half his body.  I searched for the Larry I knew in this stricken body and found him, but that person is trapped in a limp shell that no longer responds to his brain.  And I sensed a deep malaise in him that is as understandable as it is sad.

My point in telling you this story is this -- savor your health and good fortune.  Enjoy the gloriously normal life you have.  We can, in a blink, lose that.  Appreciate your health while you have it.