Category Archives: fashion

What a Croc!

I am really, really enamoured of my new shoes. And slightly embarassed to admit the are Crocs. One of my very good friends lives near Boulder where they are made. She absolutely hates the things. I was mortified to confess to her when I got my first pair, but I had the excuse that they were a gift so I was not to be blamed. I did tell her how ridiculously comfortable they were, and what perfect beach shoes they were. But now I’ve done the indefensible thing of buying not one, but two new pairs of Crocs. But again, in my defense they are really cute and low profile, they don’t actually scream “plastic shoes!” and although I got these to wear around the house (note the matching pajama pants, and no Brits I simply cannot say pajama trousers, not only do you lose the alliteration but it sounds dumb–what on earth would you call them?) I’m now contemplating a black pair for work. Again, in my defense, I have arthritis in my feet after a childhood spent ballet dancing (badly! I was never the most graceful or coordinated kid!) so comfortable shoes are a necessity. So watch out England, I am entirely likely to soon be walking your streets in cheap plastic shoes! How very American of me!!!

Crochet project part 1

As noted not so long ago, with the coming winter and my getting slightly more settled and feeling more myself generally, even in the midst of a few nasty things on more than one occasion in the last few weeks, I have been crocheting. Just a few hours here and there, which included a bit quite late last night and this morning, which allowed me to finish my second mitten:


These now go with a quite cute hat:


The hat was the second part of the project, the mittens the latest and the newest addition to my library: I had never made mittens before but found the pattern that had the same bobble feature as the hat! And now, because of that, I hate the scarf and am going to have to make a new one. The thing that started it all-the scarf, which was the first thing I had crocheted in more than a year from yarn (I will describe my other recent efforts crocheting wire into jewelry some other time!) has turned out to be less than satisfactory compared with the hat and mittens. So more to do. Probably not for a few weeks though. The first mitten sat more than two weeks, making me nervous that I would forget how I had actually interpreted details of the pattern, but in the end they are moderately symmetric and quite warm and toasty. The only thing I think now is that I can’t possibly not put them on a single long crocheted string that would pass through the arms of my jacket, like I had when I was a very small kid–I don’t want to lose them after all that work! Do you think I can pull off crocheted mittens on a string if I defend them as home-made?

Yes I lectured at MIT in my pajamas, so?

I’ve returned from that upstart new Cambridge in Massachusetts where I spent the last few days of my trip floating around for meetings at such cool places as MIT and Harvard.  I was asked if I could give a seminar at MIT on short notice, so of course I agreed.  However, I woke up Wednesday morning and realized I was out of clothes appropriate for giving a seminar at MIT.

There is a bit of back-story here, of course.  In 2004, when I was about to leave for my first ever trip to Europe (England and Portugal, and yes it’s odd that I then moved here less than 2 years later in 2006…) I bought a new suitcase at Target (of course!) from the Eddie Bauer line (of course!).  It was a beauty, two separate compartments, plenty of room for 2 weeks worth of clothes.  This has been my only suitcase for all the years since; I have a rolling tote and a non-rolling tote, but until this latest trip I had no other suitcase.  However, I had started noticing that it was a bit big for certain applications.  It was slightly (less than 1 kg) over when we went on my music trip a few weeks ago, and I was lucky that Ryanair did not call me on it.  And that was really frustrating because it wasn’t even full!  When I went back to the US in June it was also not full (although of course the weight restrictions were more liberal) and so I had started thinking of acquiring a second, smaller, rolling suitcase.  Which I did, the day before I left for Boston.  It now became a point of pride that I had to pack everything I needed for this trip into the new case, which I figured would be no problem given that the conference was casual and summer clothes are just plain smaller.  Since I’d be going to three different cities on the east coast, and sharing the car to Maine with three others with luggage, this seemed like a great idea at the time…

It probably should have been okay.  The issue seems to be my ability to count how many days the trip was actually lasting.  I knew it was a full week at the conference, then 3 days in Cambridge, so ten days, right?  Uh, no, there were two extra days in there, it was actually 12 days.  Now I got lucky in one respect, as I always always pack extra underthings and socks, knowing full well that especially in summer showering more than once daily can be nice.  However, I appear to have not sufficiently over-packed to make a 10 day suitcase work for a 12 day trip WHEN so many of the days were “professional” and not planned too far in advance (like the MIT lecture, which came up with 48 hours notice such that there were already few clean things left that late in the trip).

So back to yesterday morning, picking up just as I’ve noticed that the majority of the t-shirts I had with me were in the “dirty” laundry bag.   I was sitting in my summer pajamas, plaid capri pants with a brown t-shirt, when I pulled out of the remaining “clean” clothes pile… my pajama top.  Also a brown t-shirt, but one that I would not wear out of the house.  For one thing, it’s a sleeveless muscle-shirt, not a real t-shirt.  In addition, it has some strange little mini-pockets that clearly do not hold anything but are whimsically placed.  In my jet-lagged haze at the beginning of the trip, I must have grabbed the wrong brown t-shirt (the one suitable for day-wear) and worn it to bed, not noticing that it was the wrong one.  Frantically I started digging through the rest of the clothes only to discover that this was it–the only item that I had left that was clean and could potentially be layered with something to form a suitable outfit for the MIT lecture was the silly pajama muscle shirt.   When life gives you lemons, dress in layers.  And play wild with the color combinations.  All week I had worn the light khaki pants with a light khaki cardigan when needed, and a white cardigan with white capris.  The white partially-buttoned  light cardigan over the top of the PJ shirt hid the sleeves and the pockets, but I really needed the khaki slacks and not the white capris.  So mix and match I did, the shoes were not ideal, but then again, what was ideal at this point.  After 12 days on the road and three cities, I was ready to come home!

Epilogue: The lecture was really fun, the questions were hard but good, and the one person to whom I confided about the pajama shirt claims he never would have guessed.  Of course, it was a “he” not a “she” and I’m not asking whether any “shes” saw me and thought I looked a bit odd for the circumstances.  I flew home over night last night and am now about to crash again, had a two hour nap this afternoon and then dragged myself into work to check for disasters.  A long day of meetings tomorrow and then it will be FRIDAY NIGHT and a FULL WEEKEND AT HOME hoorah.  I need it.  There is a hell of a lot of laundry to do! 🙂

Observed at the grocery store

Two critical observations from my local Sainsbury’s tonight.

  • On Cheese. They did have some slices of something that looked like American cheese. As in, it was yellow and in a package of individually wrapped slices and called “Cheese-flavoured slices” which I thought was very amusing. They also had something shockingly scary-looking called “Dairylea Nachos” which I bought just for the heck of it. Full report later, but I’m guessing it will be nothing like American nachos. For one, the cheese is the wrong color!
  • On Hokies. Sainsbury’s is for some reason channeling the Virginia Tech sports teams with their odd new color scheme for the uniforms.
    Hokie logo

    Hokie logo

    Sainsbury’s has always been about the Orange but for some amusing reason they have switched the uniforms from UVa colors (dark blue and orange) to the Tech colors (maroon and orange). Can they possibly know here the ramifications of this loyalty switch given the intense rivalry? Are they trying to show much delayed solidarity for the victims of the Tech shooting? Inquiring minds wish to know.

Brit news round-up

Or, the anti-feminist digest, as I like to call it.

Leaders in England are finally calling for “positive discrimination” or what the Americans tend to call “affirmative action” in hiring practices. I can completely go for that, but apparently this is shocking to some avenues of British society, given this reaction: “White men to face jobs ban” Let me just say that the white male workforce in Britain could do with a shake-up although sadly the headline is not true and I can guess that white males of British origin will continue to dominate the hires. And those of us who are not white males of British origin will continue to feel as conspicuous as if we were green hermaphrodites of Martian origin.

In hilarious news, the Economist features a story on chavs at the Royal Ascot race, apparently demonstrating that civility has been lost in British society and no one knows how to dress properly anymore:

“KNICKERS,” read the stern advice to racegoers at Royal Ascot, one of the swankiest society events of the summer: “a definite yes, but not on show please ladies.” Reminders were in order owing to a “lack of understanding of what formal daywear actually means in this day and age”, according to the organisers of the royal meeting, which began on June 17th. Miniskirts and spaghetti straps were banned in the poshest part of the course, and girls were asked to avoid streaky fake tans.

Notice how there is no mention of men here? This is purely about keeping the ladies “lady-like”. And, to go back to the first point, not represented in the work-force. The white men need their jobs and don’t need to be told how to dress because they do it just fine, the women are the problem in all cases. Apparently. Can I come home now?

Royal weddings

So last weekend Pres. Bush’s daughter got married, and this weekend we had a royal wedding here in the UK.  Now admittedly it was a pretty far-down-the-line royal wedding, but still it’s always worth a look at the amazing architectural features that the Brits consider hats for weddings.  It’s such a relief that you can rent (“hire“) these amazing objects at dedicated hat hire outlets.   The best ones, however, are the “fascinators” –see this lovely site for “bespoke headware for all occasions”!   (Some sentences really do give away the immense cultural and linguistic differences between England and America and that has to be one of them!)  It brings to mind the tragic character played by Winona Ryder in one of my favorite bad movies, Autumn in New York.   They had a great May-December romance and she made fascinators.  I just didn’t know that’s what they were at the time, or that they existed outside of that movie.  How naive I was back then.

Dear men of Britain

Dear men of Britain,

Since the weather in the UK has turned warm, many of you seem to have switched to your motorcycles for transportation.  I am fully in support of this, especially if it means you have abandoned you automobiles.  However, I am baffled when I see you walking around my town in your motorcycling leather trousers.  I would think that such gear would be inconsistent with the warm weather–are you not sweating in all of that knee-padded leather?  Not to mention the addition of matching leather jackets.  I am perplexed by your wearing this gear when shopping or wandering around my town, do you wear it every day?  How do you clean it?   I am also somewhat perplexed by the need to wear such fancy padded gear, are you taking turns like Valentino Rossi such that your knees might drag on the ground?  In the US, I seem to recall most bikers wearing jeans, are they missing out on something, or are you slaves to your own brand of biker fashion?  Just wondering.  Many thanks for any insight you could provide.