Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Colorful times

As one whose 4th grade idea of joy was a set of 64 Crayolas to open and have all for my own this fashion moment of neon colors and color block clothing closely parallels the experience.

The paper-wrapped Crayolas, with their sharp tips for bold strokes of color, tantalized with their expanded color range.

I would take them out of the box one by one just to read off each color and absorb the mystique its name evoked. I repeated the names, so much more interesting than just red or blue or green or yellow, as I recklessly blazed trails into new color land.

The collection encouraged me artistically and indulged my sense of playfulness, which an appreciation for color can engender.

Crayola art was as unlimited as one's imagination. If instructed by the teacher to color a picture I filled the page industriously. It was deeply and richly crayoned for handing in.

My Crayola school days are long in the past but the vivid wardrobe they seem to have portended has been growing and evolving through the years.

We who are color hounds instinctively reach for a punch of color to warm us up. For us color is the wow factor. It's what we gravitate toward to make us look and feel good.

As classic as muted and natural tones are (think camel and winter white), and as quintessential as black is, and also helpful to the clothing budget by being suitable for almost every situation, some of us prefer to opt for color whatever the occasion.

While clothing designers, stylists and fashion bloggers dictate, direct or sum up the fashion looks through the seasons (a/w and s/s/ in fashion parlance and don't forget cruise) my radar stays pretty consistently on the pieces I know for sure will make me happy.

Some of these items, truth be told, are bright enough they can be found in my closet without the light turned on.

I look at it like this. Each of us responds to color according to our own perspective. House exteriors, interior wall colors or home accessories are all ways we take a stand on color. Some of us like to be surrounded and drenched in vivid hues. Others find comfort in the quiet, more earth-based and natural colors.

What we choose to put around us is who we are. We can tell this by how we respond to a given room or certain well appointed furnishings. For color-sensitive types this holds true especially in what we like to wear.

Let me tell you about a friend. She'll remain forever anonymous because vivid colors, the shades I turn to as an oasis in a desert, are anathema to her.

She favors mossy greens and woodsy browns for her outfits. When I suggest an injection of - let's say - red she smiles politely. A gift of a spring green wool scarf actually caught her with her guard down. She took to its perkier shade of green.

Spring green scarf aside, she makes me (beside her as we walk along) look like one dressed for a circus in my exuberant pieces.Then she gets into her loud-colored car and makes a blindingly bright exit.

"Go figure" I say as I slide behind the wheel of our ho-hum gray car. We have a tendency to go gray when we buy cars. Gray is a neutral color which wears well on the road.

Gray colors don't look very interesting at the speed traps we've learned. We're yawned over as we sedately go by. And I would say that's a good thing.

As I swing into the traffic, turn lights blinking as I merge with the medley of vehicular colors, my black car coat gives me away as a suburban sort of gal intent on errands.

Underneath, however, sends a different message. An outfit of purple t-shirt, flame-colored pullover and dark blue denims says here's one who mixes purpose with poetry.

Color will always have a place for one whose fashion education is gained through Crayolas.

Ro Giencke - December 21. 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Birthdays

Blessings on December birthdays, celebration cakes aglow with candle flame,
Brightly affirming life in seasonal days shaped short and dark and cool.
Lit candles speak of hope through the passage of time,
They represent the reality of change allowing new hopes in.
As you blow out the candles on the old year, so do we with you.
Close your eyes and make your wish, and may everything good come true.

This is an eventful week. It holds special birthdays, one even today, with more this month to follow.

I love looking for birthday cards as a switch from the focus on getting the Christmas letters in the mail. By this time we're usually underway with the holiday cards. We're slow out of the gate this year but it will happen. Holiday clockwork has its own perfect motion. One generally gets to the proper place in time.

There was a small setback because I thought we had Christmas cards on hand. A few remaining Christmas cards were located when the search was actually conducted. But they lacked envelopes. There must have been some profound belief that a thorough straightening up at a future date would produce them.

The envelopes, over the ensuing year, very likely were found. By that time they wouldn't have been associated with the Christmas cards. They no doubt were used or put into the recycling bin (feeling virtuous as this mission was carried out). So it goes in a not quite - but still working at it - organized household.

Since my Christmas list is on track, and my birthday card list is almost so, there is time for some of the other preparations that make the weeks rushed but so lovely and right.

Holiday time notwithstanding, thank you to all December birthdays. Born in the season of hope, yours is a special light.

Ro Giencke - December 7, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twelfth Month

The yard was white at bedtime last night. It was a quiet surprise. While watching To Catch A Thief (and pondering the cycle of fashion which refreshes looks for new generations of wearers - see red polka dot neck scarf Gregory Peck sports in the film, then flip forward fifty five years to the Fall 2011 style pages) it had begun gently to snow.

The dusting gives the first of December a clean sparkling note. A skim of new snow can look very inviting.

November was pleasant as entered into the weather books. The month ran five degrees above normal. Temperatures continued above average for a sixth straight month. Parkas remain in the back of the closet.

We've been encouraged to water trees and shrubbery before winter. Fall precipitation didn't occur. It's been a dry spell going back as far as this summer. One can wish regular replenishment for the ground and greenery. On the other hand the lovely sunny late fall days have been thoroughly enjoyed.

The grocery trip made yesterday took me on a local road that bisects wooded tracts of land. Fallen leaves have collected into random piles in the woods which are deeply leaf-strewn.

In their spiraling descent, or as determined by the scattering proclivities of our strong fall winds, the leaves have come to settle like drifts against the bases of tree trunks. Leaf drifts today. Snow drifts tomorrow. This was my thought as the woods with their autumn tones registered on me.

Today's light snow cover makes me glad for the moment of extra attention paid to the November woods.

It's time to look ahead to holiday baking and other seasonal preparations. Mexican wedding cakes and cranberry bread are favorites out of the oven at our house as the chill of the seasonal air descends on us.

Other yummy things get made too as the weeks fill with festivity. Ideas for treats for sharing have me checking the cupboard for requisite ingredients as a new grocery list takes shape.

Holiday Shopping goes in large letters at the top. It's not that the purpose of the list will be forgotten. It simply affirms to me that I'm putting down important stuff.

The sweetness of the season is in this list. Blended, stirred and baked as cookies, bars or bread, or as stovetop candy confections dropped by heaping spoonfuls onto yards of waxed paper, the tasty results speak for themselves.

Wrap the gifts, trim the tree, pass the plate of goodies. Listen to your heart's song as the carolers greet merrily. December, twelfth month, is here.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

1 cup butter, softened,
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Form the dough (chilling dough in refrigerator helps with this first step) into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. While wedding cakes are still warm gently shake, a few at a time, in paper sack of powdered sugar. Repeat process later again when cool.

Ro Giencke - December 1, 2011