Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Blog at Wanderlust and Lipstick!

Poor thrippie has been neglected for weeks now. I can offer a host of excuses, including the juggernaut of the semester. But the best one is a new project. I'll be putting most of my blogging energy into WanderChic, a new blog at Wanderlust and Lipstick. I should have a new post up each week, and I'll be tag-teaming with my dear friend Erin Tolman.
I'll have updates here from time to time. For now, check out the new venture, and let me know what you think! If you're down with FB, you can also "like" us there.

Friday, September 2, 2011

New article in Geez Magazine

The latest issue of Geez Magazine includes an article I wrote about Off-Ramp Theatre in Spokane. The magazine is cool (and Canadian!).
Check it out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Brides of Others

Two friends of mine are getting married at the end of next month and their caterer just went out of business. Yikes! I thought maybe I should pick up my wedding dress from the store because you just never know.
Who could abandon such a beautiful
bride in produce?
Reader, you may have noticed that the only picture in this post is a stolen flickr shot of some stranger’s bride bear left among the melons at Albertson’s. I’m not a highly superstitious person, though if I have the option not to walk under a ladder, I’ll take it. Just in case I do wind up wearing this gown someday, I’ll keep it a surprise. I will say that if the dress were a Netflix movie I would describe it as retro, feel-good, and independent.
Well, "independent" except that when I got the dress home and decided to try it on for an audience of cats, I couldn’t zip the bodice myself. I remembered that bridesmaids perform more than merely ornamental or folkloric functions (wasn’t that how bridesmaids got their jobs? To confuse the evil spirits as to which woman was the bride? Though how evil spirits could confuse irredeemable satiny Pepto Bismol confections with the white dress that's clearly the star, I’m not sure.) I held up my dress as best I could and smiled at the cats and at the mirror. In an alternate universe, I’m getting married in this dress on Saturday. (In both universes, my shoulders look pretty good. I’ve been working out).
While I was trying my dress on, the right side of my face was still numb from a filling that morning. Of course, if I read in a short story that a character waited until she was partially anaesthetized to pick up a wedding dress she no longer needs, I might be tempted to roll my eyes. Dulling the pain! I'd snark at the book. How clever! As it was, I had Vaseline clumped on my lips, and I was hoping my speech could be understood.
My new dentist, Dr. Crump, sometimes refers to himself in third person as “Crump” (as in “remember, Crump said to brush those back teeth with extra care.”) I sat through hours of sordid dental and orthodontic work when I was a kid.  I don’t remember liking it (except for aesthetic moments like choosing the color of my retainers: tie-dye with extra glitter!). But I don’t remember feeling as panicked as I did during this most recent visit. Crump is very kind. He asked me several times, “You’re feeling no sensation?”
My tooth looked borderline OK on the xray, so much so that Crump debated whether to go for the filling now or just keep the tooth under observation. Once he removed my old, leaking sealant, though, he said the decay just “mushroomed” and was close to the nerve. He switched to a slower drill that he described as “more discriminating.” I'm sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Easy Mark? Moi?

This fancy little boot is coming to the office
with me. Solid gold! (OK, it's a hollow
ornament, but really as fabulous as that long
ago TV show).
Esteemed readers, this kickin' glitter mini-boot is many things I can't resist: 1. It’s in the shape of footwear. 2. It’s sparkly. 3. It’s tiny.  4. I wasn’t looking for it. Rather, it found me in a little shop on Hamilton a few days ago.
Other dangers: I had just finished a run, so endorphins were involved. Also: I had actual cash money on hand (I feel more confident when I set out for a run if I have a slurpee fund on my person.) 
I had just run to Donut Parade, my first visit to this fine establishment. My running partner and I scarfed down homemade maple bars. The place closes up by noon on Saturdays, 1 p.m. on weekdays, so there’s none of this dawdling till the afternoon. You get your treats in the morning, or you pout and go to Safeway.
According to the menu, there were maple bacon bars for sale, but one of the friendly servers told us that we’d have to be there by 9am if we wanted those. (We arrived by 10:45, which is not late in my book, but I fear I keep a different kind of book than most people in this town). 
Running partner and I were sweaty from the summer morning heat. We sat at the counter. I swiveled my bar stool. Donut Parade was first described to me by a pastor friend as a “salt of the earth” kind of place. Tacked up on the paneled walls are pictures of donuts colored by kids and handwritten signs, including one with a call ahead number. (Could it be? I could sleep in AND have my maple bacon bar? Noted for next time!) The place has a clean but bedraggled bathroom you have to cross through the pantry to reach. This is the Pacific Northwest, so there's also an espresso machine.
I sipped my americano and tongued the creamy maple patina off my pliant donut in a way I hoped was not against the wholesome spirit of the place. Competitive swimming was on TV angled from the wall. One of the best ideas ever: Eating fresh donuts while watching other people exercise.
So in a post-donut stupor, I found myself faced with this gold Christmas ornament that could be rigged for an unconventional gift tag. Clearly, I needed it. I couldn’t fit this treasure in the small, zippered pocket of my Camelback, so I carried home my new booty (sorry!) in a black plastic bag as if it were a wad of dog poop.
I maintain a little menagerie in my office window, mostly of the cat and matryoshka inspired objects, but little gold boot will fit right in. I wonder if there’s a pseudo-Catholic part of me that can’t get her fill of relics. In my office, I have a couple of ceramic busts on my desk and a styrofoam model head and glitter skull on my file cabinet. This sparkle boot is just another disembodied part. 
I’m having an iPhoto crisis at the moment (Genuis bar, hold a place for me!), but I’ve got some shaky photos of relics from my recent trip to Europe, including the fingerbone of St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris. I'm struck by the idea that just a fraction of a holy body still has miraculous power (it's that holy!). 
This also makes me think of the story of Jesus healing people with his clothes (this blog can't take two steps without running into Jesus these days. And how does that make me feel?)
If you have your Bibles handy, turn to Matthew 14 and follow along. In the Matthew version, Jesus has just fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish and then, in the very same chapter, walked on water. There's plenty of action/adventure in this chapter already, but then we get another episode that's quieter and moves me with its simplicity. I'll cut and paste from the KJV (It's the Bible of my youth, and I still prefer its sound): 34. And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Of Birds & Men

Check out the lapel on Sears JR Bazaar shirt from
Area 58 on Monroe.

The guy behind me in the big, black truck flipped the bird.
I was meekly merging onto the Maple Street Bridge. I know it's fuel-efficient to speed up and join the flow. 
But unlike Interstate on-ramps, which offer you a little teaser lane from which to find your way way, this ramp ends in a yield sign. There’s not room for error and the traffic was, well, not bumper to bumper, but heavy. I was lame. I stopped and waited for a hole.
So, when Big, Black Pickup marshaled the rhetorical power of his middle finger, my strongest desire was to flip one right back. Experience has taught me to hesitate (for example, the person who honks at you while you’re running and nearly causes you to shart yourself could well be someone from work or who knows your grandmother. The honker may think they're being friendly, even funny). 
I also considered an alternate reading: this chap with the pickup was flipping off traffic in general, not me in particular. F*&^ you, Maple Street bridge! Up yours, enchanting summer sunshine!
And then I remembered that there’s nothing special about returning anger with anger. Permit me a little Jesus talk (this summer I've been revising essays about my evangelical upbringing, after all). The New Testament upends that eye-for-an-eye, bird-for-a-bird cycle. What’s the point of church or prayer or scripture if it doesn’t increase one's capacity for love or peace? 
Reader, I didn’t flip the bird. I entered traffic as soon as I could, and then hauled ass so that guy couldn’t catch up with me (to flee temptation, of course).
In spite of this stray bird incident, I had a fantastic summer evening. I was crossing the bridge, after all, to meet my friend Janine for a nine-mile run around Bowl & Pitcher, an especially scenic part of Riverside State Park. I’m usually a pavement girl, but I’m learning to love trails. You have to negotiate rocks but not much traffic, save the occasional biker or runner. We were only two or three yards from the Spokane River, in the shade and that sun-warmed pine needle smell I associate with campgrounds (did I mention it's a campground?). We also passed an artillery range across the river. I asked Janine if she was nervous, and she said no way, so I trusted that and kept running.

Without a proper segue, allow me to say that I like the vision of my new shirt from Area 58 on Monroe. And that store: what a treat! It lives up to its marquee promise to showcase “the old and the odd.” It was like walking around in a roadside museum where you were allowed to rifle through the stuff.
The print on the shirt makes me hum “Shiny Happy People.” (For readers 30 or older, you may also think, like I did, of Hands Across America).
I’ve mostly purged my wardrobe of polyester and wide lapels. Retro for me now means more MadMen aspirations. Pencil or pleated skirts, things that affirm I have a waistline. If this sounds vain, well, yes, my vanity is bottomless (let's address this another time, eh?) 
Suffice it to say that I shuffled through high school and college draped in gigantic jeans, baggy blouses, and flannel shirts (many borrowed from my dad). I bought a purple cotton muumuu at a consignment store because I loved its bright flower embroidery. I had no compunction about wearing birks or clogs with dresses. Most of my shirts had hoods. I was no stranger to the poncho. (Be gentle. This was the 90s. Notice there are no pictures in this section). 
This new-to-me Sears shirt from Area 58 doesn’t identify its fabric. It must be synthetic, but it’s light (not like those thick floral hippie shirts I wore that were as breathable as a good patio tablecloth). It’s cut well, to avoid that curse of shorter shirts: The Box. 
And, it has a moral.
Next time I’m tempted to return an unfriendly gesture, I’ll think of this pattern. Let the circle, or the stripe, be unbroken! You, the insecure man in the giant truck, we are all part of the same family. Come, clasp hands! 
Notice (that photo feels really far away now) that the shirt repeats a figure wearing a killer headdress and a blue jumpsuit with shoulder pads. Nothing says peace quite like that. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting My Kicks

Who do I think I am, standing on my roof in new-to-me boots?
The West is the best (for boots). 
After five years in Utah and almost a year in eastern Washington, I’ve been stamped by the American West in a new way. 
I’ve extolled the vibe and selection of Spokane’s Fringe & Fray in earlier posts, and when I stopped in last week, tall boots stopped me in my tracks.
One of the advantages of buying local, they say, is a personal connection with the maker or seller. And it’s true! Grace, the store's proprietor, knows I have a soft spot for stripes and dots. She knows I need big shoes. I tried on two pairs of boots (men’s boots, but a close enough fit) in versatile black leather with fun stitching. 
This was coming full circle. I'd tried on some boots at Fringe & Fray earlier this summer. Thus my bootlust was born.
I became a different person, stalking Sierra Trading Post’s web site. My lust was so bad I considered backsliding on my rule: I have to love, not just like, the clothes, and they have to love me back. There I was, wobbling around in some weary caramel so-so looking boots at Value Village, surfing on someone else’s serious pronation, on the verge of taking them home. I tiptoed around in a polka dot size 9 ½ pair of boots at Nordstrom rack, fooling no one but myself that my feet would be fine once these elf-size kicks were broken in. This was serious. 
Imagine my delight last week when the taller black boots fit great, as though they'd been waiting for me. Grace cautioned that this might be my gateway pair of boots. I'm willing to chance it.
While I was in Europe a few weeks ago, I browsed many sundresses and sandals, but I couldn’t buy them. I was traveling light and also the season to wear that stuff here in Spokane is short. I can’t justify many tank tops. I can, however, make ample room for coats, woolens, and boots.  
I wore my new boots with a pinstripe Banana Republic cotton skirt to church on Sunday and felt my toughness go up by several points. Come fall, those freshmen had better check themselves.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New essay in Tampa Review

I'm delighted to have an essay afloat in Tampa Review issue #41:
A few summers ago my intrepid Peace Corps friend Elaine traveled with me to Romania to gawk at the Bukovina monasteries. Confusion, pine trees, false cognates, and a measure of insight were experienced.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Room Full of Naked Women (Euro Vision Part I)

“Forgive the analogy,” my landlord said, “but it’s like being in a room full of beautiful naked women.”
A daffy, middle-aged sailing bum, he stood next to the washing machine, chatting with me about Europe. I've just returned from a four-cities-in-two weeks blitz with my kid brother.
The daycare near our hostel
in Paris showcased an awesome
animal jam band.
My first thought was that the naked ladies analogy was kind of weird, given my landlord’s rhetorical situation. But I also saw where he was coming from. So much to look at, and in such a short time.
Given the number of art museums in Europe and the ample representation of nudes alongside waterlilies, self-portraits, and fruit, "a room full of naked women" is a handy metonymical tag for the place.
I know in my last post I promised tales of secondhand Paris fashion. Alas, the exchange rate crushed me, and the vintage boutiques were beyond the reach of my experience except as small museums. 
I'm not sure what's so risque about this
dry cleaner's but I can't resist a
provocative awning.
There was so much to look at on this trip. And a feast for the other senses, too. If I hadn't forgotten my audio recorder in the luggage room on our first day in Paris, I might have recorded: men (only men) jangling half moons of tiny Eiffel Tower keyrings like tambourines, a pack of orange-brown windup dogs barking on a blanket near the Seine, a 7-piece band playing "If I Were A Rich Man" in a metro tunnel, a busker on Champ-Elysees with quite a crowd for his Phil Collins/Sting medley, giggly field trip kids everywhere.
If I had a smell recorder, I would have saved the bakery and the little fish market near our hostel and the lavender at the Jardin des Tuileries near the Place de la Concorde.
Even though three or four days are far too quick a stay to exhaust a city, this trip gave my travel muscles a serious workout. (Travel, like flirting--and here’s my own questionable laundry-room analogy--is a muscle, with the same use-it-or-lose-it urgency). When not drinking espresso, I was reading maps; speaking embarrassed monkey language in the stead of foreign language proficiency; chanting “easygoing and joyful” to myself when the museum/church was closed/hard to find/crowded; shrugging off idiot taxes like the unforeseen extra charge to sit outside in a cafĂ©; celebrating the small victories of finding a laundromat and achieving clean clothes.
One more analogy (why not): As soon as I finished my first marathon a few years ago, I had the  following thoughts: where are the bagels, that was a crazy experience, and I want to run another one.
Now that I’m home, unpacking, sorting photos, and trying to reacquaint myself with the notion of work, I’m already looking at the calendar for my upcoming breaks. Already I’m making a wish list of guidebooks, angling for the next trip. Someday I'll be one buff traveler.
Who can resist a shot of the Eiffel by night? Emerging from
the metro earlier that morning, I smelled croissants and saw the tippy top of the
Tower in the same moment. Instant Paris!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm marking up the maps. Tomorrow Thrippie goes international. First stop: Paris.
My colleague Leonard has given me insider info like where the best ice cream place is (Berthillon's, and Lonely Planet agrees). The weather report looks good for three days of walking (with respites, of course, in churches, museums, and cafes).
I confess that I may have squealed when I got to the "Dress for Less" Paris guidebook page. My Francais lexicon is about the size of a petit-four, but I've committed to memory my new favorite word: depot-vente (second-hand). Note: the first "e" wears an ascending accent mark like a quail feather and the "o" a peaked hat. I can't wait to paw through Parisian ladies' castoff vintage wear. As a courtesy to my bro (whom I might start calling Sancho Panza, even though his build is more Don Quixotic), I'll keep an eye on the clock when we happen upon these houses of treasure.
I've been home in West Virginia for a few days, and to keep my thrifting skills sharp, my grandmother and I trolled through our nearby Goodwill last Saturday after we feasted at the Waffle House. I tried on a few light sweaters, but I didn't love anything enough to take it with me all the way to Europe in my pink turtle bag.
The night before our Goodwill outing, I picked Nana up from her dance at the Junior League building downtown. I arrived later than I'd promised (shock) but several dances before the music stopped. I couldn't help but feel self-conscious as I searched the room for my tiny grandmother on the dance floor, veering left at the potato chip table when I should have cut right. There's something about seeing half a dozen senior citizens tearing up the Cha Cha Slide that does a heart good.
As I wrote about in a post from last fall, the prescribed gender roles of dance can be a relief. Nana's friend Jack asked me to dance. He's really good, because even I looked good. I work through my nervousness by asking questions: how long have he and his wife been dancing? How long did it take until he didn't have to count steps in his head?
Jack said he dated a girl in high school, and they'd go out dancing all the time. He broke her sternum once while trying to flip her over his shoulder. Is that why you broke up? I asked. No, he said, I wanted to go to college. I glanced at Patty, his wife, with her blond curly hair and silver shoes, chatting with my grandma. I said it seems like things worked out OK.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yellowstone essay finds a home in Permanent Vacation anthology

Several summers ago, I cleaned hotel rooms at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Housekeeping was hard, unglamorous work, but I couldn't have asked for a more earthloving/evangelical/burnout/OCD/backcountry trail mix of coworkers who taught me much more than just how to make hospital corners.
I'm honored that an essay I wrote about that time appears in the new anthology, Permanent Vacation, from Bona Fide Books.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Serifs Gone Wild!

Woody Allen’s new film, Midnight in Paris, opened in Spokane last night, so the theme of crashing the party of a past epoch is, well, present in my mind. (The film’s past is a very good-looking past, I must add: Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali! for crying out loud.)
Wilkie knows her place!
The seasoned Thrippie reader will not be shocked that this yellow table tent’s jaunty font caught my eye. 
I’m especially charmed by the attempt to yellow out the official time of the Beer Garden. The little plastic teepee reflects an earlier era, which makes me curious about its past life. What kinds of revelry has this tent seen? Were the Beer Gardens in days of yore so wild that Spokanites were cut off promptly at 8 p.m. and sent home with ibuprofen?
This sign’s imperfection lets us have it both ways. We see the new intention, but we also get a look at its history.
In Part I of “The Interpretation of Dreams,” Freud claims, “Thoughts which are mutually contradictory make no attempt to do away with each other, but persist side by side. They often combine to form condensations, just as though there were no contradiction between them, or arrive at compromises such as our conscious thoughts would never tolerate, but such as are often admitted in our actions.” The stolen table tent is a kind of dream space, a tablet of the unconscious mind where possibilities are open. The Beer Garden is and is not from 5pm-8pm.
Yes, dear reader, I said stolen. It was not Thrippie's finest hour. I and my accomplice, to whom I might or might not be related, swiped it off the table when no one was looking. Maybe next summer I’ll sneak it back into the ArtFest booze corral and return it to its native habitat. 
But for now, ArtFest, I pledge to feed and care for this sign, to love it as though it were my own. It’s a much cooler centerpiece, I might add, than my usual bowl of questionable onions or a stack of papers.
(If anyone from Artfest happens upon this post, I beg of you: leniency! Always leniency). 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Something Old, Something Blue

Summer break has broken! I found these bright and heavy earrings (right photo) on a recent trip with friends to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Their turquoise delights me, as does their Art Deco spirit. They feel about as heavy as two quarters each (it’s been far too long since my last math field day to remember how heavy that might actually be in ounces or centigrams or something). Safe to say, they keep my feet on the ground. At the same thrift store on 4th Ave, I scored a pair of chunky red hoops and silver and green post earrings, too.
I caught these beauties in CDA.
Last weekend was a time for my feather earrings that a good friend bought for me from Wild Honey. I attended the Sasquatch music festival in George, Washington, with my brother and some friends. The younger set paraded around the venue in sun dresses, animal costumes, and gold pants. I was more of a jeans and t-shirt girl, with a hipster-ish hat and, of course, my ear plumage. (I'm no stranger to gold pants, but the Gorge gets cold once the sun goes down, and lame just doesn't insulate very well). 
It was a minor heartbreak when I lost an earring after a day of festing (probably when I was running from the Death Cab for Cutie show to the whomp tent? Oh, troubles!). So from that day forward I decided to take things in an Indigo Girls direction and wear the solo feather. No problem! The surviving earring will work nicely this summer in an asymmetrical pairing.
Faithful blog readers, your correspondent is experiencing some personal upheaval. Suffice it to say that summer plans have shifted from how I’d envisioned them in the winter darkness. All shall be well. But perhaps it’s telling that today I’ve been writing about ears. It’s a recurring theme for me that when someone starts telling me something I don’t want to hear, I just stop listening. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Things: Part III (Be a Good LeSport)

I have not quite crossed the finish line of the semester, but I couldn’t resist taking the afternoon off.
Yesterday I attended graduation in my robe with velvety chevrons and my droopy hood. This is the third time I’ve worn the gown since my own graduation in May 2010. That last-minute grad ensemble from the campus bookstore turned out to be a good investment. I considered working out the wrinkles with my new clothes steamer (a fine alternative to ironing if you can listen to the user's manual and not put your hand over the steamy part to see if it's hot). Then I read the robe’s ominous tag: Do Not Wash Or Dry Clean. I suppose that when I’m done with it, I should burn it (not unlike a decommissioned American flag)? Readers who sew: could I pay you to make me some pockets in this thing? A girl needs a way to stash a pack of Skittles, especially when she’s sitting through a ceremony.
How could I resist the Atari pull to the heartstrings?
And dear readers, I confess that I haven’t accomplished much thrifting in recent days, other than scoring some graduation wrapping paper last weekend, just in time for a few gifts.
And today, in my glorious afternoon of hooky, I strolled over to Fringe & Fray, where I found this rad LeSportsac bag. I have a boring black bag I bought in desperation at TJ Maxx. It’s better than the ratty tote I used at the beginning of the term. But I fell hard for this LeSportsac (I just like saying that phrase. Is that OK? LeSportsac. LeSportsac. Je m’appelle LeSportsac). The outer pockets will come in handy (keys? Right here! Phone? Got it! Jolly Ranchers? You bet).
New cat Wilkie avoids
But it’s the print that won me over. There’s the nostalgia for my Atari childhood (especially Space Invaders). And then there’s the subtle reward for paying attention. The photo doesn’t do this justice, but for many of the patterns on this bag, there are little surprises. In a row of arches, for example, one sprouts antlers, another eyes. “Repetition makes us feel secure,” writes poet Robert Haas, “and variation makes us feel free.” This bag makes me feel good. Its size and volume assure me it can get to work, and its fun print will be just the thing to usher me into my summer projects.
We’ve had a good stretch of spring-almost-summer weather here until the last couple of days. I have worn sandals and, at last, a floral-print dress from Anthropologie that I received as a birthday present back in March. And, another marker of the seasons, I sat on my roof last Saturday for the first time this year. A couple of friends and I stared at the Spokane skyline, happy to shiver in our jackets or shirtsleeves so long as we got to feel young, hip and urban.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guest Blogger Brytton Bjorngaard: 1970s Barbie RV is the Vehicle of Imagination

I'm delighted to bring another guest blogger to ThrippieGalore! I know Brytton Bjorngaard as a graphic design guru and Spokane style maven. She was also my wingwoman when I was shopping for a wedding dress. I knew her eye for design and her sense of my bridal vibe would help me stay within the bounds of good taste (not that I ever veer, dear reader). Enjoy her thrifting montage (and fine photos).

Brytton on Brytton:
I'm an art professor by day, an obsessive compulsive graphic designer by night, and a thrifter all the time. I recently relocated to the Inland Northwest after residing in the Midwest, although my love of travel has found me living in Oregon, Spain and Italy. My lifelong goal is to photograph (and thrift of course!) on all continents. I collect sands from my travels and store them in jars so I can revisit those beaches anytime with a touch of the sand. I of course bought those jars at a thrift store.

Brytton on thrifting:

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of thrifting… some are of the beach, but that is a story for another blog.

I remember digging through bins of toys and trying on clothes for dress up. I hoped each one would take me to fanciful lands. Thrifting and the treasures that it procured, such as a 1970’s Barbie RV or an ethnic patterned wrap skirt, jump-started my creativity as a child. I created exciting places for Barbie to explore in her camper and I cast many a spell as a gypsy with that wrap skirt tied around my shoulders. Over the years, the Barbie RV was cast aside, but not surprisingly I grew taller and the cape actually worked as the skirt it was intended to be. My love of clothes may have started as costumes, but today it is as fashion.

To me there is nothing more rewarding than purchasing a pair of Cole Haan shoes for $5 (original retail value $135) or Ralph Lauren sailor dress slacks with gold buttons for 99¢ cents (original retail value $225).  I am a self-professed clothes… hmmm, trying to stay classy, but when the phrase fits... whore. It is a modern interpretation on the phrase clothes horse, but different in that while I am obsessed with shopping and acquiring items of clothing, I do not spend the money that is associated with the horse version.

To claim to have just one favorite thrift clothing purchase feels like cheating on the hundreds of other pieces that I own. To say that 80% of my wardrobe is built from thrift is not an overstatement. The pieces that stand out however are not the ones on which I saved the most money, not the ones by the best designers, nor the ones I wear ever week, but rather the pieces that are bright, funky, and out of my normal range of black.

A recent favorite purchase was a Vera vintage dress for an upcoming wedding. Not Vera Wang, not Vera Bradley, but Vera Neumann.  Vera and her husband started a silk screening business in the 1940’s that expanded into collections of scarves, clothing, even dinnerware for Mikasa that continued until the early 1990’s. Her designs are known for bright colors, bold graphics, floral patterns and progressive approach to fabric cuts and my dress is no exception.

The flowers showcased on the front (and back) of the dress make me feel like I am wearing a painting. The beauty of this dress will raise my single girl spirits at the wedding it was purchased for. What is equally as thrilling as the dress are the shoes and purse that will accompany it on the wedding adventure, all found thrifting of course. 

The wedding will be fantastic, for many different reasons such as getting to see friends, dancing, and cake, but also because of my dress. When I find clothing I love thrifting, it intrinsically has more meaning, is more individualistic, and is less tied to the trends of shopping in a regular store. I can guarantee I will be the only one wearing my dress at the wedding and it will make me feel beautiful.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Things: Part II

In the last installment of Spring Things, I let fly with my grievances about hosiery. The next day, I bought a pair of tan, patterned stockings at Target, digging their Machu Picchu zigzag stairstep design and hoping their tone would turn out OK.
Alas, zigzags in the package looked like stretch marks in practice.
I found these cute retro
earrings at Carousel
last weekend.
I dug out my hot pink tights on Wednesday, which worked well with a black and white checked pencil skirt, a gray turtleneck sweater, and these yellow earrings I found last weekend at Carousel.
Today, I braved the rain in bare legs. It was a little chilly for such foolishness, but my core was warm in a lined pink wool skirt, short-sleeved sweater, and gray wool cardigan.
I’ve really fallen for cardigans. I don’t know exactly when this happened, but it must have around the time I was buying my suit for a campus visit. Ah, professionals need not wear jackets every day, sales associates informed me. Sometimes, they wear cardigans.
I can't resist stripes! Here's a recent
cardigan sweetheart, from Fringe & Fray.
Once a very gifted student wrote an essay for my class about his experience in Catholic school. It was from this man that I first heard the term “shadow swearing.” Students at his school were required to wear a cardigan to chapel, and if you forgot yours, the nuns would direct you to the coat closet where you’d be forced to choose an abandoned, scratchy sweater, quite likely with a used tissue wadded in the pocket. These many semesters later, I still shudder at the memory of his description of that Catholic school coat closet's aura of repulsion and shame.
I recently reread Ander Monson’s essay “Cranbrook Schools: Adventures in Bourgeois Topologies.” Before Monson arrives at this private school as a scholarship student, he obtains cardigans from JCPenney at the Copper Country Mall near his home. “I wanted, ridiculously, unsurprisingly, to fit in, and thought that meant cardigans,” Monson writes (32). “I think they were made of rayon or something," he muses. "No one at this school wore cardigans and certainly not the kind you find at JCPenney” (33). Unlike Monson, I was a public school kiddo, but like Monson I, too, have miscalculated the appropriate attire in the hopes of fitting in or coming off kind of classy. And, like Monson's, my hometown is the kind of place where "Penney's" is considered a good store.
Maybe I dodged cardigans for so long for much the same reason that, until recently, I’d make quiet gagging noises if I thought about dress pants (or, even worse, slacks): I hadn’t yet met the right one. 
Now that I've given up puffy coat for the season, I
have lapels! This tiny flower brooch is also from
the accessories menagerie at Fringe & Fray.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Essay Up in Mid-American Review

I'm delighted to have a new essay, "Why Burning Man Won't Fix Your Shattered Self-Esteem" in the new issue of Mid-American Review (Vol XXXI Issue 1). Some great stuff in there!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Extra Credit

Why does it take such a nudge to get me out of my orbit? (Initially I typed “nude” instead of “nudge,” a different kind of provocation altogether!).
There are two great vintage/resale stores, Carousel and Fringe & Fray, within walking distance of my neighborhood, and today I finally visited them for the first time. A friend of mine with her infant son brought two small bags of clothes to resell. I’ve been culling my closet lately, applying the “have I worn it in the last year?” rule with laudable rigor, so I had my own bag of shoes and clothes to take.
Another first for me today: I sold a few items from the Nicole Inventory and racked up a bit of cash and store credit.
I wasn’t really in a trying-on mood, but I snuck a peek at the racks of vintage dresses and separates arranged by decade at Carousel. I bought a pair of chunky yellow triangle earrings, like something my Nana Sheets might have worn back in her schoolteacher days. I could have spent my store credit at Fringe & Fray, but snack time called. Besides, it's nice to have shopping to look forward to.
Two things I learned: it’s not a good idea to buy something if the only purpose is to resell it. The store credit is a perk, a bonus for clothes that I was prepared to give to a friend or thrift store anyway. But it's not a way to make a living, nor can I use it as an excuse to justify buying stuff I don't love (or that doesn't love me back). 
The other thing: I should think a little harder about how I’m dressed before I trot into these cute boutiques. On teaching days, I try to coordinate my clothes, not in a matchy-matchy way but to suggest that I have put on The Teacher Costume. I choose earrings. I shoot for matching socks.
But after catching up on Glee last night, I slept late this morning, then spent an hour or so trying to sweep up, empty the compost, clean the stovetop before my friend arrived.
I know I wasn’t selling but rather re-selling clothes, so I’m sure it didn’t really matter if I looked put together. My pile of gently worn clothes either suited the vibe of the store or not. But showing up in my dusty purple turtleneck and paint-spattered jeans probably didn't inspire confidence that I thought much about clothes (it may also have inadvertently revealed that at times I use the floor as clothing storage space.)
My shopping companion was well turned out in spring weekendwear, with a cute denim skirt, a green scarf with flecks of color, and a baby in a tiny ball cap and yellow coat. Now that's a great look.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Guest Blogger Harmony Button: Puppy Galore

Dear Readers, I present to you ThrippieGalore's first guest blogger, Harmony Button! Harmony is an accomplished poet and essayist (Pushcart Prize nominee, Larry Levis poetry prize winner, published in journals like White Whale Review and ep;phany, though she would probably be too modest to tell you that stuff), a seasoned thrifter, a transplant to Utah from the Northeast, a first-time homeowner (documented on This Old Blarg), and, as you'll read below, guardian of a new puppy.

Puppy at rest.
Here's the thing about thrifting: it's not about the stuff.  Even when it is about the stuff – those pearly buttons, that vintage orange and olive upholstery – the act of thrifting, that undignified rummaging that leaves you desperately in need of a wash, is about the possibility of finding something awesome.  And if you find it while on the thrift, that means that whatever the awesome thing might be, somebody, at some point, decided they didn't want it any more.  The more awesome the thing, the greater the miracle that someone gave it away – and the greater your pleasure in discovering it.

If Awesome (A) is inversely proportional to Rejected (R) as Miracle (M) is proportional to Thrippie Galore! (TG!), then R = TG! when A ≥ R. 
And then you buy it, because, really, how could you not?  The greatest thrift finds are not acquisitions... they are rescues.  You are, by default, a Discount Hero, liberating the Awesome from all the other rejects.  For anyone who believes in true love, thrifting is a life-affirming act. 
Puppy with fork on Grandma Turpin's couch.
When the man of my life left for a month long film shoot (he's a camera guy – he thrifts for beauty with a lens), I was disproportionately sad.  We've been together long enough to know that a month apart would not shake the solidarity of our relationship, but long enough to also feel the distance with the gut: instead of a fluttery mix of anxiety and desire that threatens to burst into panic at any moment, our way of missing each other was like coming home to find that someone had rearranged the rooms inside my house.  Everything's the same, but I can't reach my kitchen because now it's on the roof.  How am I supposed to...?  How can I...?  His absence made his presence echo.  So, I did what any reasonable woman might do: when he left, I cried a little, washed the dishes, got in the car and drove to the Humane Society of Utah. 
How could I not?
He spent the first two weeks sleeping in the crook of my arm: ten pounds, sweet breath, soft fur.  He woke me when he had to pee or when his case of kennel cough convulsed his tiny body so dramatically that he vomited up puddles of mucus.  True love is waking with your hand in vomit and thinking, poor puppy, not, poor me.  The best thrifts sometimes need a little fixing: we're on our third course of antibiotics. 
But oh, the joy of it!  He was the thrift of all time: the thrift to end all thrifts.  The thought that someone was able to leave him behind at the shelter is entirely baffling to me: how could they?  I was simultaneously offended for him and delighted by my own good luck.  This is the dirty little secret about thrifting: it is elicit, like you're getting away with something.  It shouldn't be yours, but through someone else's folly, you strike upon undeserved good luck.
It was the moment of thrift magic: mine now
Harmony and puppy share the frame.

A month later, the man came home to a house that had been literally rearranged: all the shoes now live in the spare bedroom; all the power cables have been taped down.  My house now smells like lavender and sandalwood and Pine Sol from the Daily Mop.  There is a waist-high gate separating the kitchen from the front room, installed in a hard-won battle I waged with a screwdriver and a beer at midnight, after discovering that my new puppy was smarter than my handy skills were handy: unless I screwed the gate into the wall, he could unlatch the top by tugging on the bottom rail.  I was equal parts delighted and annoyed – what a clever, clever beastie.
Harmony and Briscoe take five.
The man came home to find I'd hidden all his power tools, organized his shoes and sorted his mail into Junk, Bills, Uh-Oh and Other.  At first, I was afraid he'd resent the time the puppy took, the cleaning products needed, the unexpected poo.  But what was good for puppy was also good for us: we take more walks, we practice patience and consistency, we don't leave dinner dishes on the floor, even when all three of us spend dinnertime on the couch, watching Battlestar Galactica.
The greatest thrifts reveal to you not only what you want, but who you are: when you are in the store, you think perhaps I am the kind of woman who could pull off those boots; perhaps my house does want a fringed lampshade; perhaps I have the kind of relationship that can sustain distance and dogs.  Even as you rescue the rejected, you discover who you are.
The other day, puppy saw his first duck. 
– Those are Whats? he asked, cocking his head. 
– Ducks, I told him. Those are ducks. 
– DUCKS! he laughed, and I immediately realized I am the kind of girl who always wanted to chase ducks, but thought society would judge me if I did it by myself.  And so, together, we chased.
Briscoe investigates the ducks.
It's not about catching the duck – I would be vaguely horrified if we did.  Even when you have the thing you've been chasing (a man, a dog, a duck... er, okay, maybe not the duck – metaphors, like polyester, can be stretched too thin), the pleasure is still in the chasing. 
The puppy wears three tags and has a microchip between his shoulder blades, but still, sometimes I ask him: will you be my puppy?  My puppy? 
– Yes yes yes, my puppy says, but I'll keep on asking.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Things: Part I

Spring is a time of mixed messages. Just yesterday, I ran through bouts of hail (my hoodie pelted with pellets like white bath salts). But then I heard the calliope toots of the carousel downtown and saw the parents and kiddos waiting hand in hand. Spring is "wear a hat." Spring is "open for business." I guess in the PNW, this lion/lamb business isn't finished in March!
I felt like a cardinal (the bird,
not the religious official) in
this sweet shirt from Moscow's
The Storm Cellar. I guess I'd
have to be a male cardinal,
because the females are drab
little brown feathery socks.
Fashion-wise, spring means retiring my lined wool pants, though I have yet to give up tights with skirts. The highs have been in the 50s, which is still a bit chilly for naked legs. I loathe “nude” stockings, which might be the result of so many cheapo pairs of pantyhose I wore to church as a kid. The shade was never quite right: orangey like self-tanner gone wrong or cadaver gray-white. Or the finish was too shiny and spandexy or burlap-rough. I did enjoy opening the L'eggs plastic egg to find a new pair of hose scrunched in there like a wrinkled nylon yolk. But then the fun part was over.
A few years ago, I wore beige fishnets, which I liked quite well. They were neutral enough to suggest polish rather than Halloween, but they didn’t take themselves overly seriously. They were self-aware stockings, winking at passersby: yes, we know we can’t really approximate the tone and texture of flesh, so we’ve taken the playfully artificial route instead.
Last week (with gray tights, I might add) I wore this red, ruffled shirt I picked up for $7 at The Storm Cellar in Moscow, Idaho. My guy and I visited Moscow last month for a concert and to see my friends Brittney and Andy and their two pixie daughters. Of course we also had to check out the gem store, BookPeople, and this new clothing store that caught my eye. The Storm Cellar has a light, inviting space, right on the old-timey Main Street of Moscow, and around the corner from the fabulous food co-op. Like a homegrown Anthropologie, the Cellar offers an impressive selection of men and women’s clothing and shoes in racks with plenty of breathing space, as well as a housewares corner in which owl motifs are well represented. 
The fitting rooms were still under construction, so I tried on a whole pile of loot in a room with lots of dust and no mirror. But this gave me an excuse to catwalk out to the three-way at the end of the hallway. I recently “liked” The Storm Cellar on Facebook, too, so now I can dream about the new merchandise they post. It would be worth the 90 min. drive on little roads to Moscow for those deals (plus, a chance to try the zucchini huckleberry French toast at The Breakfast Club down the street). 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Essays and Banjos: An Interview for Rock & Sling

I recently had the chance to interview friend and writer Jessie van Eerden for Rock & Sling. It's up on their rad blog:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Liberace Western Wear

When I moved to Spokane last summer, my thrifting focused mostly on housewares: dishes, a couch, a coffee table, latch hook art and gewgaws for home and office.
Yours truly models
a snazzy Rockmount Ranch
Wear blouse.
My quarters are in pretty fine shape now (dust topiary notwithstanding), so I’ve returned to my first love: clothes.
This week I’ve been in L.A. on Spring Break with my guy, John, my mom, and my brother. We nosed around some shops in Santa Monica and the Beverly Center, but I approach a Coach store or Tory Burch boutique more like little museums than places where I would actually transact business. I can’t even set foot in one without worry that I’ll set off some kind of hillbilly detector.
I felt most at home at Buffalo Exchange on La Brea. I know I’ve rhapsodized about BE before, but they’ve got my number. I visited that store last spring on a Friday night when the karaoke machine was fired up (patrons received $5 off their purchase if they signed up to sing).
I spied this white Rockmount Ranch Wear shirt and was seduced by its pearly snaps and tablecloth feel. At $4.50 (yay for 50% off tag!), I knew that even if I'd only wear it a couple of times this semester, I’d get my money’s worth.
Though I enjoy reading fashion blogs such as Fashionable Academics or Kendi Everyday in which the bloggers post pictures of themselves in their stylin’ outfit combos, I’m not ready to set up a tripod nor do I live with someone who can snap photos of me just-so. (I’m also not sure if this is a fashion blog or not, but my blog’s identity crisis can wait for another post).
To facilitate the clothing photography, I plan to make my own dress form one of these weekends. My artsy craftsy friends assure me it’s not that hard, and I think they'll come to my aid if I provide the cocktails.
But here I am in these photos. Why yes, that is a robin’s egg blue bra I’m wearing. My concept is Rihanna meets Liberace Cowgirl.
Note too the frilly cuffs and the sleeves (great joy) that are long enough for my dental floss arms!! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

reddish / purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy / stuff (thanks, WCW)

Almost a year ago to the day, John, my friend Barbara, and I ran the L.A. marathon. I wore my burgundy-brown Nike via Thrift Town shorts even though Barbara and I called ourselves Team Capris during our training. (Our alternate name was Team Velveeta, reflecting our love of post-run grilled cheese). In the race, I wore my water bottle fanny pack, removing the bottle for a baggie of pretzels and Cheez-its. (Why can I not write about running without also writing about food?)
The 2011 L.A. marathon was yesterday. I spent most of the day on the couch at John's parents' house, winnowing down a stack of grading and staring at gray sky, glad we'd picked the right year for that race.
The truth is that I probably haven't run 26 miles total this year. I hope to come out of hibernation, get some new running shoes, pick a race, buy some Teddy Grahams, get moving.
In one of my classes recently, we read William Carlos Williams' poem "Spring and All." One of the things I appreciate about this poem is its un-Hallmark look at the season. In place of daffodils or Easter grass is the "reddish / purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy / stuff of bushes and small trees / with dead, brown leaves under them / leafless vines--"
Before spring erupts, Williams suggests, one must face winter's brush. In the clutter, "[l]ifeless in appearance, sluggish / dazed spring approaches--" Spring is a resurrection, but not much to look at when it first shows up. Spring is here, especially in the green folds of Malibu. It's spring break, after all (I hope I never outgrow spring break). Although I look to Williams' poem as a reminder that spring's is a slow approach, I'm also struck by how signs of spring do show up overnight. Just last week at my school in Spokane, one day the courtyard was mulch. The next day, crocus.

OK, there's some shopping and thrifting to do in L.A. I'll ease up on the kum-ba-yah about the seasons and get back to business.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mental Math

We’re getting more light in Spokane (by nearly three minutes a day!). Tonight I drove home from work at twilight. Glorious.
I rode the bus earlier this week because of the freezing rain and snow. I do realize that for a blog that’s purportedly about thrift shopping, I put a lot on here about weather and food. Know that there are some clothing posts to come. I was in Portland last weekend, and found some fun recycled items. I’ll need warmer weather to break out the floral dress and silk blouse and two-toned pink t-strap shoes.
One evening this week on my ride home, I was reading under anemic bus lights with my paperback close to my face. I didn’t pay much attention at first to a woman and two teenagers who boarded. The woman wore grayscale camo skinny jeans and black hightops, which I can respect. One of the girls wore a trucker ballcap kittycorner on her head. The younger, blond one didn't wear any distinguishing accessories. She seemed not to have realized yet that she's pretty.
I should say that eavesdropping on the bus is one of the greatest perks of riding public transit. Attempting/pretending to read is a perfect cover. The girls were asking the woman about what she was like when she was younger. “I was like a girl looking down, with her nose stuck in a book,” the woman said. “I was so shy, not like I am now.”
The girls were teasing her about a new gentleman caller. “He tried to kiss me,” she said, “but I turned away.”
They wanted to know how and why she got pregnant with them when she was so young. “Your dad would just sneeze near me, and I’d get pregnant again.” The woman had much more humor than regret.
Why this family chose this bus on this evening to ask about the stories of their conception, I’m not sure.
But I was sure this was more interesting than my book.
I studied more closely the woman's face. My first thought: she looks like hell. I was trying to figure out how old she was to have teen daughters. 
Maybe she could sense my computations.
“I was pregnant at 16 with your older sister, in 1992.”
Then I realized the woman is one year older than I am.
I couldn’t help but salute her as we exited the bus, young mom and her hatchlings from the front of the bus, me slipping out the side.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Companion Bean

Last weekend I attended a conference in D.C. That city turned out to be a Venn diagram of friends from childhood, my Peace Corps days, and several academic roosts. I’ve spent this week catching up on work and sleep, finding myself drinking pints of Emergen-C and staring at the wall.
Here's Bean Pillow in a moment of repose
with fellow pillows on the chaise.
My birthday has once again scrolled up to the edge of the event horizon, which might explain why I’m grooving on heady questions like “what is the nature of friendship?” and “where is my life going?” (these questions run in tandem with “should I stop at Taco Bell or be a good girl and make real food at home?”).
A word about friendship: long ago, I was a Brownie Scout for one year. I loved the uniform that we were supposed to wear to school one day a week. I favored the cocoa slacks rather than the skirt with my printed uniform shirt and wide sash lean on patches. 
Our initiation ceremony involved circling a round mirror three feet in diameter on a Methodist church floor and ringed with votive candles in glass lanterns like cupped hands. We’d been learning the sign language for the song “Make new friends, but keep the old/ One is silver, and the other’s gold.” To make the sign for “old,” grab at the invisible Father-time beard growing from your chin. “Silver”  and “gold” were similar signs, both like jewelry fluttering from your ear.  “Silver” was a thumbs-up that rocked like a pendulum and descended from your ear. Ditto for “gold,” except for thumbs-up substitute hang-ten. (Dear reader, you should know that my father didn’t raise me to be a quitter; I finished the year as a Brownie scout, exulting in the day camp at the end of the year, which pretty much made up for the fact that we sold magazine subscriptions instead of the famed cookies.)
Who can resist bean pillow's sunrise eyes?
I’m grateful that—unlike facility with a volleyball or small talk—the ability to make friends has come to me pretty easily. I can thank my years as an only child, as well as my habit of switching cities every so often.
II’ve felt homesick here in Spokane but not alone. I have some new/silver friends here (well on their way to gold, nay platinum, status). There’s Dickens, my fearless cat. There’s the rowdy Spokane river I see from my apartment window. At my elbow, there’s my delightful bean pillow, made by friend Lemon Cadet. I read her blog Project: Project with joy even though I am not a crafter (a trip to Michael’s makes my palms sweaty). I experience a kind of contact buzz from her documented crafts that elevates me to a higher self.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No Bad Weather, Only Bad Shoes

When I taught English in Moldova as a Peace Corps volunteer a few years ago, my students would remind me, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Today was a good clothes day.
[Imagine I took a photo and posted it here: light caramel cardigan with asymmetrical ruffle detail and raised seams, and a pink tank top with scooped neck with tiny flat ruffle fringe, both from last weekend’s Banana run; and a pair of black Calvin Klein jeans, from Coeur d’Alene Goodwill. This might sound like too much ruffle, but in truth they echoed nicely.]
My problem was bad shoes. Dansko clogs were no match for the slick sidewalks. Wily water! Looked like rain. Felt like ice.
Last week I also had shoe problems. I wore my biker boots even though I knew they weren’t waterproof, so the slush seeped in. I thought I had an extra pair of socks in my desk (no), or that the campus bookstore would sell socks (no longer). We missed our transfer bus, so we had enough time before the next one to browse the ceramic knickknacks, notebooks, do rags, slippers and socks. These socks were divine: orange, synthetic, broken out in a rash of hearts and flowers,  “Cutie” in yellow cursive at the top. 
The students and I spent a contemplative afternoon at St. John the Evangelist, where we walked their canvas labyrinth, a copy of the one in the floor of Chartres Cathedral.
We learned that "labyrinth" is not synonymous with "maze," though they’re often used interchangeably. A maze is a puzzle, with many dead-ends. A labyrinth doesn’t trick you, at least not on purpose. It leads you along one path into the center and back out again.
This difference reminded me of a Sunday School lesson in which the teacher explained the difference between jealousy and envy. You can only be jealous of what you already have, she said. You envy what someone else has.
After all of those lessons, among all those crafts and songs with hand motions and flannelgraph Jesuses and Pharoahs, who can say why this fine semantic shading has stayed with me so clearly?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Love & Goodwill

Precious hours of my youth were spent in shopping malls, especially The Huntington Mall. It was a sanctioned place of supervised privacy, an early arena of financial and social independence.
It was my job to choose my turtleneck-vest combo with care, and to spray my bangs into an exclamatory wing over my forehead. It was my job to have change for the payphone to call a mom or dad to retrieve us in a Dodge caravan with faux wood paneling on the sides. Also important: wearing my sun-and-moon watch with leather strap, so I’d know when to meet up.
John and I strolled along Spokane's Centennial Trail on Sunday.
The red wagon is both a slide and a landmark!

John visited me this past weekend, and while the spring-like weather pushed us out of doors, my coupon for Banana Republic nudged us back in. It makes me happy that John likes shopping in small but potent doses, as do I. We share a similar aesthetic. Mine calls for more hot pink and leopard print than his, but generally we both applaud clothes that are fairly fitted but not clingy, with unexpected details in fabric or stitching.
As the sidewalk icy rinds melted outside, John and I commandeered side-by-side fitting rooms. I helped him find shirts in the sale rack he’d overlooked. He appraised the fit of my cardis.
Dickens waxes reflective next to the disco pillow I found at a thrift store
this past weekend in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
On a retail high, we drove to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to track down a vintage shop my friend Thom had recommended. Farther down 4th street, we hit a thrift store Bermuda triangle. I caught two stores back to back, then we regrouped for happy hour. Happily, we spotted a sizeable Goodwill that was open till 7 on our way out of town! Happy!
Love takes many different shapes, and one of them is a man in a plaid scarf, reading his book on a Goodwill couch, tuning out a little girl banging on a nearby used piano, while you scout out a fitting room to try on your treasure.
John snapped this view of the Spokane River along the Centennial Trail
(in my head, I sing "working on some night ducks...").

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What Do You Got?

I don’t think of myself as snitty about grammar. Yes, I have a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing, but I don’t sit around critiquing friends’ emails and Facebook posts. I don’t use red pen on student homework unless it’s the only thing I can find in the bottom of my granny purse or the cobwebby corner of a desk drawer. In a moment of haste, I too have inadvertently typed “it’s” for “its,” or lost my way in the thicket of there, their, they’re.
She who has not split an infinitive cast the first stone.
That said, I do enjoy moments when language shows evidence of bending in a way its authors did not intend. It’s a surefire stay against boredom. The world is replete with these delightful gaffes, such as those chronicled in the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotations.
This morning, a high school’s marquee flashed: “Come here / wonderful music.” I didn’t pause to read the other screens, which must have included info about an upcoming concert. I liked that the first screen was, in fact, a curling index finger beckoning “wonderful music” to visit the school. Come here!

I found this henna tattoo stencil at the Purple Moon (full of crystals,
geodes, bamboo plants, incense, scimitars and wind chimes)
in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.

Just before New Year’s, John and I spent a couple of days in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho (about 2.5 hours from Salt Lake City, and with a little bit of a detour, it can be en route to the Tetons). The temperature outside dropped to single digits, but most of the pools were over 100 degrees. It’s hard not to relax when the steam from the pools mingles with strings of Christmas lights and frosted tree branches overhead. Your feet tingle when you first get in the water because you’re so cold and it’s so hot. Then you chug your Nalgene because you’re so toasty. Your hair freezes on your head. Your boyfriend says “your chin hairs have ice crystals on them” and you don’t get mad or even embarrassed because these mineral waters have healing properties. By now you’re lasagna, and lasagna noodles don’t get mad or embarrassed. Yes, you have chin hairs. Some of them are downy, and some are bristles from the sea-hag’s hairbrush. In a place as magical as Lava Hot Springs, though, your frosted chain hair just gives you more shine.

When we left Lava, we stopped in Soda Springs, Idaho, to see the world’s only manmade geyser. It spouts on the hour every hour. The geyser and visitors center share a parking lot with the Dog House bar. One of the observation decks was decorated with a wooden nativity scene and a tinsel star of David. John and I had some time to kill before the next eruption, so we shared a pint at the Dog House and looked at the taxidermy deer heads and the dollar bills taped to the wall like bricks, each with a handwritten message, many of them documenting the passing of a birthday or success in consuming a specified and impresive quantity of alcohol. One dollar bill near the Michelob mirror posed a question that’s been heavy on my mind: WITHOUT FAMILY, WHAT DO YOU GOT?