Thursday, May 29, 2014


My house is a magnet for birds.  Or, as we call them in New York, boyds.  This time of year, there are many varieties visiting my yard and singing through my windows.  It's lovely.

On the negative side, I have human neighbors -- people hang their laundry (and panties) within view of my house.  I try to look on the bright side and enjoy the colors of their clothes.

Do you have neighbors?  Are they nice?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Evolution and Insight

I observe myself but I often don't understand myself.  I'm too close to see what's obvious to others.  Many of the deepest insights I've learned came from external feedback, such as comments from you.

Perhaps you can help me again.  Recently, I find myself drawn to looks that never appealed to me before.  I don't know why this is happening.  I'm wondering if it means my style is evolving.

When I started dressing up, I slapped together mis-matched items with no judgment.  I looked like a clueless tween.  I was a fashion-tyro and my lack of experience showed.

A few years of shopping and creating outfits helped.  My ensembles improved and made more sense.  While not always successful, they escaped the realm of embarrassing.  Most outfits look appropriate for a 24-year old who's eager to be stylish with bold colors and prints.

Now, surprisingly, I'm finding myself curious about clothes that never interested me in the past.  I'm hungry to try two looks in particular.  The first is a crisp white blouse paired with a tight pencil-skirt over a pair of classy black pumps.  Think sophisticated secretary; a woman who's 32 years old and cares about polishing her act.  The second is a dark skirt-suit with a tailored jacket and satin blouse.

In the past, I found those looks boring.  Too mature.  But now I want to wear them.

Why?  What's changing in me?  Am I maturing as a woman, stylistically at least?

Did your taste in clothes evolve over time?  Do you know why it happened?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Orange Is The New Black"

Now that Season One is out on DVD, I'm bingeing on "Orange Is The New Black."  It's a wonderfully-written show about women in prison.  I like how the show explores lives of disadvantaged women (of color, transgender, etc.) to a depth never seen before on TV. 

The show was created by the woman behind "Weeds" and is based on the true story of Piper Kerman, a privileged white woman sent to prison a decade ago for a drug crime.

The show has a transgender character played by a transgender actress.  That's a story-line uncommon in popular entertainment.

Have you seen the show?  If not, you should.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I used to fear failure.  But then I realized you learn from failure and, if you're persistent, it's merely a pit-stop on the road to success.  So I now welcome failure as an opportunity to improve myself.

My outfit yesterday was awful.  So bad it reminded me of my earliest efforts which were pathetic.  But then I remembered I can learn from the mistake.  Mustering courage, I posted pictures and invited suggestions.  What a smart move!

Your comments are so helpful.  So skilled and creative.  The mental roadblock I had with the skirt was demolished by the half-dozen terrific tips you guys gave.  I can't wait to try them.

Now I know ways to wear the skirt and look good.  That was impossible for me two days ago.  Thanks!

I'm considering myself a winner for being brave, putting myself out there, and being rewarded with greater ability.  How do you handle set-backs and failures?

There's another winner to celebrate.  Two weeks ago I challenged you to come up with a humorous caption for a funny picture of Emma.  Many of you did.  The prize -- which is a $50 gift-card to Sephora -- was won by Beth, whose clever entry is shown below.  Thanks for playing!

I can too hold my breath longer than you!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Purple Madness

A word up-front: sometimes I dress up just to dress up.  And when I do, I don't care about impressing others.  I do it for myself.  That happened last night.

I was tired, physically and emotionally.  I needed to relax.  I knew dressing up would accomplish that.  So I pulled out a $2 skirt I thrifted recently and set about surrounding it with matching pieces.

While the skirt is cute, its appealing and shiny color blinded me to a severe negative -- it has no shape and badly emphasizes the absence of curves in my cylindrical body.  The skirt couldn't be less flattering.  It makes me look awful.

Then again, any day in girl clothes is a day of bliss for me.  Even a bad outfit is good.

I need some advice.  Is there ANY way I can wear this skirt that won't make my body look bad?  Do you have any ideas on that conundrum?




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Unexpected Benefits

A decade ago, I had an insight about motorcycling.  Just now, I had a similar insight about fashion.  The revelations are analogous.

After learning how to ride a motorcycle, I realized that my ability to drive cars improved significantly.  Insurance company researchers have confirmed this -- motorcyclists, when they drive cars, get in fewer accidents than non-motorcyclists.

The reason is obvious.  To operate a motorcycle safely, you need to pay close attention and develop skills at assessing traffic-situations.

Over the past four years, I've shopped for and worn female clothes.  I just realized that my male wardrobe is significantly improving.  The skills I've learned from dressing female have migrated and improved my ability to dress as a man.

This is not unimportant.  I now shop more effectively for male clothes; I know where to look and what to buy; and I gather individual pieces to combine into attractive (male) outfits.  Looking in my closet, I'm impressed at my male clothing and have more sartorial tools at my disposal.

The reason for this benefit is the same one from motorcycling -- I pay more attention now to shopping and have developed greater skill at buying and wearing clothes.

Neurologists and psychologists agree that knowledge learned for one purpose often gets used for other purposes.  Our brains aren't limited; improving one area sets the stage for improving other areas.

Has this ever happened to you? 

For example, if you help a husband or boyfriend with his wardrobe, are you better at shopping for him than he is?  Why do you believe that's true?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Joan Jett

Name a bad-girl, my age, who still rocks with abandon...  Joan Jett!

 I recently saw the movie "CBGB" and it reminded me of my love for Joan Jett.  Joan's been battling in the male-dominated world of rock music since the Seventies.  She started with Cherie Currie in their band, "The Runaways;" she's done solo work; and she skyrocketed to fame with "Joan Jett and the Blackhearts."

Regardless of how young you are, you've likely heard her hits -- "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"; "Bad Reputation"; and "Cherry Bomb".

Joan created an iconic persona of bad-girl: black leather jacket; black pants; signature hairdo and heavy eye-makeup.  Her look has shifted a little over the years but stayed recognizable.

Motivated by a concern for animal welfare, Joan's been a vegetarian her whole adult-life.

There's been rampant speculation during Joan's long career about her sexual orientation.  Joan's always refused to comment on that subject or release any private information.  As someone who intimately understands that situation, I saw good for her.  We're all entitled to privacy.  Just 'cause people enjoy our work doesn't entitle them to know who we're loving and bedding.

Do you know Joan Jett?  Do you like her music?

Monday, May 19, 2014


When it comes to food, I'm an alchemist. I experiment with ideas nobody else considers. Ideas that sound bizarre. Sometimes they don't work, but sometimes they do. I created a nice one over the weekend.

Recently I bought Dundicut peppers, which are dried chili peppers from Pakistan. I've never used them before and was unsure how. My first attempt, simply popping them into a dish, was disappointing. Dundicuts are reputed to be very hot, but dropping them into a dish added neither ...flavor nor heat. In response, I did some research and learned to crush them before use. That releases oil inside which is where capsicum and taste reside.

To try the Dundicuts in different ways, I crushed up a dozen peppers (in my very cool marble mortar-and-pestle) and added some garlic powder for extra flavor. This created a powder potent with pizzazz.

I sampled the mixture in ordinary vegetable dishes and it works nicely. Then, this morning, I took a risk. I tried adding the mixture to something none of you would try -- Greek yogurt. It's delicious! An explosion of tempting flavor in creamy texture. I ate it straight but you could easily dab it onto other food for a topping of moist flavor.

Ya never know until you try...  Do you experiment with cooking?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bursting With Brio

This vivacious dress put me in high spirits.  Its bold design and bright colors, amplified by an unusual hem (longer on the sides and shorter in the middle), makes me smile widely.  If a garment can bring you joy, this one does.

What do you think?





A Friend's Accident

I tweeted yesterday about my friend Jim.  Last Sunday, he got in a motorcycle accident.  He was riding down the road, minding his own business, when a car suddenly turned left in front of him and blocked his path.  This is the most common scenario of car/motorcycle crashes.  The driver always claims they "didn't see" the motorcycle but that's just a lame excuse for not paying attention.

I've known Jim for fifteen years.  He and his wife Jan are wonderful friends.  I've gone on long-distance motorcycle trips with them (e.g., Nova Scotia) and enjoy their company.  Jim is certainly one of the best riders I know -- he's ridden motorcycles for 45 years and this is his first accident.  He and Jan toured Europe on motorcycle and have visited almost every State in this country by bike.

Jim always has at least three motorcycles in his garage and, in this accident, he was riding the fastest, most technologically advanced sportbike in existence today (BMW S1000RR).  Jim doesn't mind spending $30,000+ on a motorcycle and he replaces his bikes every year or two.  Visiting his garage is an opportunity to check out the coolest machines on the market.

Jim takes his bikes to a professional racetrack a dozen times a year.  It was at his urging that I joined him at the track for the first time two years ago.  I had a blast and blogged about it.

Anyway, getting to the point...  when Jim realized he was going to hit the car, he instantly braked and scrubbed off most of his speed.  (The brakes on that bike are phenomenal.)  He'd been travelling the speed-limit of 40mph and was able to reduce his momentum to half of that.  Nonetheless, there was an impact and he banged himself up good.  Fortunately, nothing was seriously broken and he has only one area of bad road-rash (abrasion) which is the equivalent of second-degree burn.  Of course Jim wears top-notch gear and that protected his body significantly.  He spent a night in a hospital for observation because he lost consciousness and they worried about possible brain damage; that turned out fine.  Whatever brain damage he has was pre-existing.  :-)

I went over to Jim and Jan's house last night.  We ate pizza, drank beer and chatted about everything.  It was reassuring to see Jim is basically okay; he just needs to heal.  Jim joked about getting (imaginary) sponge-baths from his attractive nurse at the hospital.  Jan played along; their union is one of the closest I've ever seen.  They are two people completely in synch with each other.  They will be together for life.

Oh, did I mention?  The motorcycle I rode over to their house (BMW K1200LT) is one I bought from Jim a decade ago when he was impatient to buy a newer bike.  My motorcycle practically rode itself over to Jim's when it realized it was returning home.

I know many of you fashion-bloggers may not have any interest in motorcycles, but this is my blog and I want to share my day.  Before I saw Jim in person last night, I was genuinely worried about him.  As careful as we are when we ride, the potential for serious harm always looms over us.

Have you ever been in an accident?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Well, This Is Awkward...

I've had two long-term relationships in my life.  The first one ended in the mid-1990's and the second one started around 2000.  There were a few years in the late 1990's when I was single and romantically unattached.

During that period, my interest in motorcycles emerged and grew into a passion.  I rode all the time, met others who ride, and took numerous passengers for their first ride on a motorcycle.  Here a picture of me from back then.

During that period, I went to a festival of art-films.  I arrived by bike, which was obvious from my carrying a helmet, and a middle-aged woman approached me.  She asked me about my motorcycle; we talked about riding; she told me of her lifelong attraction to motorcycles and said she'd never been on one.  I gave her information and advice on how to get into the activity.  Later, I met her a few times for coffee and took her on a few short motorcycle-rides.  She seemed to enjoy them and I thought we were friends.

I didn't feel any romantic chemistry and assumed it wasn't there.

Later, we corresponded occasionally by e-mail.  I hadn't heard from her in a few years when she wrote me last week.  She said she'd gotten married, which I said was nice.  She said she'd written a memoir about her life; I said that was nice.  She mentioned that I am in her memoir.  I was surprised since I didn't know I'd played any kind of significant role in her life.  We are casual friends who went on a few motorcycle-rides and had lost touch over the years.

She sent me her memoir.  Oh, my...  In it, she confesses in great detail to an infatuation she had for me.  From our first meeting, she had feelings of intense romantic attraction.  I was completely unaware of those feelings.  I remember the particular events she describes but perceived them in a totally-different way.

Has this ever happened to you?  Is it possible for one person to secretly be attracted to another without the other person knowing it?

I'm not going to reveal any more about this woman, except to quote a portion of her memoir that concerns motorcycling.  She asked if I was okay with her publishing it and I said she can print anything she wants.  We're all entitled to our perceptions and should be free to express them to the world.  Here's what she wrote:

I asked Ralph to take me for a ride.  It was a clear, crisp day in the fall of 1997, I was soon to be 41.  I wore the closest things I had in my closet to what I though was biker babe gear: a Members Only leather jacket, flat, soft leather boots, and a leopard patterned scarf.  What was I thinking?! 

I met Ralph in the parking lot of his office.  He had an extra helmet, which was much bigger than my head.  He got on the bike, and I climbed on in back of him.  Climbing on was not that easy.  I’m short, plump and awkward, and I held tightly to his shoulders while I stepped on the peg and swung my leg over the seat.  It was all Ralph could do to keep the bike stable. 

We started out of the parking lot and my stomach dropped to the street; I had a moment of sheer terror.  As Ralph drove through town, my body became the wind or the wind became my body or maybe the wind just blew around my hair, but my body was having an out of body experience.  There is that moment after orgasm, usually a very short moment, when nothing matters, where your body has just melted into the mattress and only good exists in the world.   I melted into Ralph and the motorcycle seat and sniffed his leather jacket until the smell surrounded me. 

We stopped at a Starbucks for coffee, and so Ralph could check in to make sure I was all right.  I had no words, I was speechless, and I was overwhelmed by the experience.  We got back on the bike, rode around some more, and Ralph drove me back to the parking lot.  When he asked me again about my reaction, I said, I had a vibrating machine between my legs and I was wrapped around your body.  How bad could it be?  Over dinner, Ralph pressed me to be more specific about how riding the bike felt.  I tried to articulate my experience, but could find only the most trite expressions to describe how I felt: I was one with the universe, I felt an extraordinary sense of freedom, I was hooked.  The smell of leather and gasoline had become the most powerful aphrodisiacs I had ever experienced.

The Old Days

Things were different in the past.  Very different.

If you watch "Mad Men," the first thing you notice is that everyone smokes and drinks, all day long, even at work.  And housewives let their children play with plastic dry-cleaning bags.

Going further back in time, things are even odder.  Here are some old photos that depict actual events.  The first one shows something unusual -- a "knocker" doing his business.  A century ago, people didn't have alarm-clocks so they paid a knocker to walk past their home every morning and knock on their window to wake them up; otherwise they'd be late for work.  The other photos are self-explanatory.

Do you remember anything that used to happen that doesn't any more?




Sunday, May 11, 2014

What Is Emma Thinking?

This is my friend Emma.  Emma has a blog.  Believe it or not, she posted this picture recently.

Emma makes me laugh.  I want to make you laugh.  For this picture, I invite you to offer a caption describing why Emma looks so sour.  The best caption will get a prize.

My entry -- "Emma wasn't pleased when she learned I'd secretly switched her coffee to decaf...".

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sampling Blue

When I wear boy's clothes, blue is my favorite color.  I wear it all the time.  When I wear girl's clothes though, I never wear blue.  The color doesn't occur to me.  I don't avoid blue; it just doesn't appeal to me as much as pinks and purples.

Browsing a thrift-store, I saw a blue top that spoke to me.  "Ally!  Over here!"  For $2, I figured I'd experiment.  I like how it looks on me.

Truth be told, I wanted to dress up today.  It's a Saturday after a hard week and I needed to relax.  Conceiving the outfit, laying it out, putting on makeup and dressing up were the right medicine.  Feminine activity makes me feel good.  I don't know if dressing up makes you feel good since it's more routine in your life, but it works like a charm for me.

What relaxes you?





I'm enjoying a TV show I'm sure you've never seen ("Wonderfalls").  While the producers made an entire season, FOX showed only four episodes in 2004 -- and broadcast those out-of-order.  The network cancelled the show without ever giving it a chance.  Fortunately Netflix now offers us the opportunity to watch it.  (I'm catching the show on DVD.)

I like it!  It's quirky, cute and funny.  It's about a 24-year old woman, Jaye, searching for the meaning of her life.  Despite having a college degree in philosophy, Jaye works in a gift-shop at Niagra Falls and lives in The High & Dry Trailer Park.  She's snarky and wary of life, fearful of making the wrong choices.  When you meet her parents and sister (played by Diana Scarwid, Katie Finneran and William Sadler), you realize why she is the way she is.

The success of a show like this depends largely on the appeal of its star.  Jaye is played by Caroline Dhavernas, an adorable actress from Montreal.  She's been in several TV shows and movies and currently has a small role in "Hannibal" (as Dr. Alana Bloom).

In "Wonderfalls," animal toys start talking to Jaye.  They move their mouths and say things.  Jaye is startled and has no idea what's going on.  Who's behind the messages?  She discovers the messages have prophetic meanings and learns from experience to trust the talking toys. 

This show is brilliantly-written.  Smart and funny.  The writing, in fact, is what led me to the show.  The series was created by Bryan Fuller, the man behind the current "Hannibal" TV show.  While that show is unnecessarily violent, its writing is top-drawer.  I wanted to check out what else Fuller has done and that's how "Wonderfalls" popped up on my radar.  I'm glad it did.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Salvaging The Day

This morning I had to go into court in Manhattan to argue an unpleasant case.  Afterward, I noticed how nice the weather was and decided to salvage the day by walking around the city.  As always, that activity was a delight.  The city was shining like a pretty pony.

I've heard the best Buffalo Wings in town are at a local bar (Mudville 9), so I gave them a whirl.  The report is true -- their wings are great, especially paired with an oatmeal stout from Elysian Brewing Co.

Here are some pictures from the fun part of my day.  Do you ever try to turn a bad day around?








Saturday, May 3, 2014

Animal Love

I love animals and am fortunate to have had several companions in my life.  Rover, Rover II, Gulfie, Cat Mama, Moozy and, of course, Juno.

I know the profound depth of affection humans can feel for their companions.  Perhaps you have felt that yourself.  If you have, feel free to tell us the name of your beloved pet in the comments.

I went to a famous pet cemetery today.  Instead of being morbid, the cemetery teems with love.  You can tell from the inscriptions on the tombstones how palpable people's affections are.  Let me share some of these with you and see if you too can sense their emotions.