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Susan Sleggs

Reflective observations to inspire conversation

It’s National Beautician Day. Where would we be without our hair stylists? It’s one of those things that is really hard to do for yourself unless you are ambidextrous and can work backwards in a mirror. It’s also frustrating when the stylist can make your hair do things that you can’t. The phrase, “I just can’t make it look like she does,” comes to mind.

I’m one of those lucky old ladies that has very little grey hair so I don’t spend time at the beauty shop getting my hair colored. My sisters are jealous. The fun part for me is when I am with them and people ask if I am their daughter instead of realizing I am the little sister. It makes them angry. It would me too if the shoe were on the other foot.

My husband used to get his hair cut by a professional but now I cut it. That came about when he went into a shop one day as a song on the radio started playing. He was back in his vehicle in time to hear the end of the second song by the same artist, with a buzz cut and without $12.00. With clippers, I can do it in about ten minutes and he gets a kiss on the cheek when I take the cape off. He says that is the best part.

I know some ladies that have been going to the same stylist for a good many years and they are fast friends and confidants. That hasn’t worked for me partly because I’ve moved too many times, but more so because I have fine, just curly enough to be a pain not a gift hair and I haven’t found anyone who can make it look nice and deal with the curls at the same time. It’s quite a challenge to get it symmetrical like I want it.

I enjoy going to the beauty shop to relax and listen to the other conversations. There is always a slice of life that is different to me. I find it frustrating to pay $50.00 when I am there less than half an hour. I guess the stylist has a good gig, especially if she can please her  clients.

Next time you go to your beautician, be mindful they are on their feet all day and probably have to listen to a lot of stories like a bartender does. I guess their job is worth the price you have to pay to look good.

 

 

It’s National Pink Day. Yes, there is a day to celebrate a color, or perhaps, the history of it. The National Day of Calendar tells us according to surveys in both the United States and Europe the color pink combined with white or pale blue is most commonly associated with femininity, sensitivity, tenderness, childhood and the romantic.  Pink, when combined with violet or black is associated with eroticism and seduction.

Dating back to the 14th century, “to pink” (the verb) means “to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern.” (I use pinking shears in my sewing room.)

It would have been curious to find pink used in fabric or decor during the Middle Ages.  Occasionally it was seen in women’s fashion and religious art.  In the 13th and 14th century, the Christ child was sometimes portrayed dressed in pink, the color associated with the body of Christ. Pink was mainly used for the flesh color of faces and hands during the Renaissance.

The Rococo Period (1720-1777) was the golden age for the color pink. Pastel colors became very fashionable in all the courts of Europe during this time.  Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), the mistress of King Louis XV of France, was known for wearing the color pink, often combined with light blue.  At one point in time, Ms. Pompadour had a particular tint of pink made specifically for her.

Pink ribbons or decorations were worn by young boys in 19th century England.  The men in England wore red uniforms and since boys were considered small men, boys wore pink.

Pink became much bolder, brighter and more assertive in the 20th century and 1931, the color “Shocking Pink” was introduced. And of course today, the pink ribbon is the symbol for breast cancer, which way too many of us know about first hand.

If you follow professional golf as I do, you know the younger golfers are often wearing pink shirts and even pink pants. I like that. It’s easier to keep track of them on camera in all that green expanse. In the same realm, if you are a Survivor (TV-show) watcher you will remember Phillip Sheppard wore a shade of pink underpants throughout his appearances. I went to the same school as Phillip and had a chance to ask him why. His answer, “For the good of the camera.” He was right. The cameramen couldn’t keep their lenses off him. Way to go Phillip.

Whatever form this color takes in your day, I hope you are “in the pink”, have not received a “pink slip” and are “tickled pink” at least once today.

I Love Onions

It’s National Onion Rings Day. One of my best memories of onions in my youth came about when I stayed overnight with my oldest sister and her new husband. I think I was eleven. People did a lot more cooking at home back then. We got some really big sweet onions at the grocery store. G. cut them into 3/4 inch slices, dipped them in batter and fried them in a single layer in an electric frying pan that held boiling oil. They were soooo good. The onion still had lots of flavor, the batter was light, and we ate them as each batch was ready. It was a long slow process, but doing it together and getting our fill is part of why it’s so memorable. I also remember thinking it was a lot of work and quite messy.

These days when you order onion rings in a restaurant, they are mostly breading, very little onion and cooked to death. I guess I’ll never find a ring that lives up to the memory of the home made ones I shared with my sister.

I have always been an onion lover. There is a family story that my father went to get the box of onion sets to plant the garden when I was four and the box was gone. He wasn’t happy. The explanation goes, my babysitter had peeled them and I had eaten them all. That I don’t remember doing, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

I attended my 25th high school reunion and one of my classmates said to me, “You know what I remember about you? Onion sandwiches.” She was right. I ate an onion sandwich most days before I got on the bus to go to the afternoon session of kindergarten. I wonder if all the onions I have eaten have helped me stay healthy over the years.

Another time I ate all the onions was when I had lunch out with my aunt. There was a jar of chopped onions on every table because it was summer and people ate them like relish on their hot dogs and burgers. This particular jar was so sweet with just the right amount of tang, that my aunt and I ate them with a spoon. We were surprised when at the end of the meal, the jar was empty. We felt a little guilty.

If you love onions like I do may I suggest you make your own onion rings at least once. While eating them picture the idolized big sister making them for her little sister. I bet they’ll be the best you have ever had.

The Bald Eagle is both the national bird and the national animal of the United States and appears on its Seal. If you think about it, there is often a decorative “head” on your American flag holder that is in the shape of a Bald Eagle. For me, the bird and the flag bring on the same emotion of patriotism whenever I see them.

I have had the good fortune to live in Washington state and New York state near where Bald Eagles live. I have seen the huge bird swooping the lake to grab a fish and it is a sight like no other. It makes you wonder how such a big bird can do such minute movements.

The name “Bald Eagle” derives from an older meaning of “white headed” as the bird is actually not bald. The adult eagle is mainly brown with a white head and tail. Their nests are the largest nests of any North American bird and the largest tree nests for any animal species. The biggest recorded eagle’s nest was found in St. Petersburg, Florida.  It measured 9.5 feet in diameter and 20 feet deep.  It weighed in at nearly 3 tons. (That’s a lot of sticks and mud. I wonder how they weighed it.)

At one time the Bald Eagle was on the endangered species list, but is no longer due to conservation and their ability to adapt to loss of natural habitat.

If you haven’t, I hope you get the chance to personally see a Bald Eagle fly over a lake. It’s one of those things that to be seen in nature is so much more impressive than seeing it on television. The size of the wing span will take your breath away.

Be On Time

It’s National Watch Day. I’ve always been a punctual person. I believe being on time is showing respect to yourself and others when you arrive at a destination, job, party, or whatever in a timely manner. I also feel people that are constantly late have a control problem. They don’t control themselves, thus they do control the others that are waiting for them. Rude!

As a teenager, I can remember going out in the back yard with my girlfriends during the summer sunshine, beach towels, cokes, and a transistor radio in tow. We would take our watches off so as to not get a white wrist band from them while we soaked in the sun. We would check them every so often to make sure we turned over so we didn’t get too much sun all at once on just one side. The watch was always placed under one corner of the towel. I don’t remember our reasoning that it had to be covered.

When cell phones became the in thing, I gave up my watch because I could always “pull out my phone.” Everyone was doing it. I have recently realized that action can be conceived as rude. Yesterday during a talk at a museum, both my husband and step-son pulled out their phones and started looking up baseball and golf scores. I thought it very disrespectful to the speaker, but have to admit, if mine had vibrated, I would have pulled it out too. Our phone addictions might not be so bad if they helped us be on time.

Watches are coming back in style, and can be chosen to show off your own personality. Of course doctors and nurses have always worn them. I know a few people that have recently gotten new watches, because let’s face it, pulling that phone out is not always convenient (especially when driving) and sometimes just plain rude. I think I need to get myself a new watch to wear, especially when in public.

It’s the Craze

It’s National Flip Flop Day. When I was young, flip flops were only worn in the summer. I had a few pair, and each spring when the weather got warm, out they would come. Then the band-aids followed for the first week with that awful support piece between my toes. One year we had a puppy and my flip flops were his favorite chew toy. I had to put them up on a chair or on my dresser when I took them off to protect them. Good thing they weren’t expensive to replace.

Today’s kids, and adults alike, wear flip flops all year. I still have no understanding of a youngster, who will go to school when it is 50 degrees out and be wearing flip flops. It just doesn’t make logical sense at that temperature. But we all know, if it’s the craze, most will follow the path. I wouldn’t be one of them. I like to be comfortable.

I’m also not sure flip flops are good for a young, still growing, back. I was taught to wear good shoes with good support, except in the summer when we went bare foot or wore flip flops. Yeah, I know, my mother was too practical, and now I am her. My summer shoes are sandals with good arch support; part of aging I guess.

In 2007, Tropical Smoothie Cafe created this day to celebrate its 10th anniversary.  Customers who come into participating Cafes across the nation wearing flip-flops received a free Jetty Punch Smoothie then bought a $1 paper flip flop. The money raised was used to send ill children and their families to Camp Sunshine which is in Casco, Maine. Their mission is focused solely on addressing the effects of a life-threatening illness on every member of the immediate family — the child, the parents and the siblings.  This year-round program is free of charge to families. In 2015, $1 million was raised by Tropical Smoothie Cafe for Camp Sunshine.  The total amount raised since the beginning in 2007 is over $3.7 million.

If you have a Tropical Smoothie Café near you, may I urge you to put your flip flops on, go get a free smoothie today and buy a few of those paper flip flops to help another family dealing with illness.

 

Stand in Respect

On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation deeming June 14 as Flag Day.  President Wilson stated, “It is the anniversary of the day upon which the flag of the United States was adopted by the Congress as the emblem of the Union.” He also wrote, “On that day rededicate ourselves to the nation, ‘one and inseparable’ from which every thought that is not worthy of our fathers’ first vows in independence, liberty, and right shall be excluded and in which we shall stand with united hearts.”   [courtesy-National Day of Calendar]

I was going to add, nothing more needs to be said, but then I remembered a couple of times in my life that just seeing our flag brought tears to my eyes. One occasion was when I pulled into a funeral home parking lot to pay respects to a very dear friend. The Patriot Guard was standing at attention in two lines I had to pass through to enter the building. I almost couldn’t do it. One has to have an understanding of being a veteran, have a high degree of patriotism, and respect for the men behind the grizzled faces to grasp the emotion that sight filled me with.

The other memory had to do with when I attended Rolling Thunder in Washington D.C. It is held on Memorial Day weekend. 500,000 motorcycles, lots of American Flags, more veterans and a feeling of reverence and peace. Yes, motorcycles and reverence go together in this situation. I recommend it to anyone to experience at least once.

I hope you will fly the flag of this great country today and forget it has a few problems.

How Many Are Too Many?

It’s National Sewing Machine Day. Since there are six working sewing machines in my studio, you can guess this day is important to me. Is six too many? Not at all! My grandson asked me one day about the number of them. I explained each one does one or two things better than the other one does, so yes, I do use them all, at different times of course..

If you asked me, I thought Singer invented the sewing machine. I would have been wrong. The National Day of Calendar tells us skilled cabinet-maker and English inventor, Thomas Saint, received the first patent for a design of a sewing machine in 1790.  It was intended for leather and canvas, was never advertised and no evidence of it, other than his drawings, could be found.  In 1874, William Newton Wilson found Saint’s drawings in the London Patent Office, made adjustments and built a working model. The London Science Museum currently owns Wilson’s model.

  • Walter Hunt invented the first American lockstitch sewing machine in 1832.
  • John Greenough patented the first sewing machine in the United States in 1842.

Growing up, I used a Singer sewing machine that was in a cabinet which sat in front of our dining room window. We pinned patterns to fabric that was laid out on the dining room table. We cut each of the pieces with scissors and pieced our garment together, using lots of pins and maybe tracing paper to mark darts. My older sisters taught me to sew. In high school, I made my first quilt. It was just some squares sewn together.

There are many brands of sewing machines today. They all have a complete line, from rudimentary to computerized ones with many stiches and lots of extra features. Pfaff, Babylock, Elna, Janome, Viking, Husqvarna, Brother, Bernina, and Singer are the ones that come to mind. Then you get into quilting machines; Gammel, Nolting, Innova, Grace, Bernina, and the list goes on. So many to choose from. If you want to buy a machine, talk to your friends for personal recommendations and by all means, go from dealer to dealer to try them out. One fact about sewing machine bobbins. Each one is designed to only work with it’s own brand, and sometimes style,of sewing machine. They are like car parts and not interchangeable. Be sure to buy them from your dealer. Another thought. I suggest you buy your machine from a dealer, not a big box store. A dealer is a constant supply of help and usually classes. Once you walk out of a big box store, you are on your own.

Some sewing machines rarely get used and don’t have a cabinet or spot of their own. My machines each have their own table and I can easily move them around to use the one I want at the time. That’s true of all but my travel machine. That one sits by the back door waiting for the next sew day at my friends, or a new class at one of the local quilt shops. You got it, my sewing machines are more important to me than the television.

Not So Long Ago

It’s National Loving Day. The title of this day has two meanings. It is about love, and about a couple with the last name of Loving. It is an annual celebration that commemorates the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia.  That decision struck down all anti-miscegenation laws, that banned inter-racial marriage, remaining in sixteen U.S. states citing “There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.”

I had no idea that inter-racial marriage had ever been illegal. I guess I’m not as well versed as I thought. And 1967 wasn’t so long ago, actually during my life-time. I don’t know why they didn’t use a picture of the actual couple that fought the fight. I will show you who they were.

lovingsRichard and Mildred Loving

As a young Air Force wife in the early 1970’s, knowing bi-racial couples was common especially when we lived in England. We didn’t think any thing of it. Maybe it was because we were young and the decade of free-love had just happened. I’m not sure the actual reason, but I am sure we thought they were brave and maybe a little “far-out” as the term went back then.

I also remember there being more parental disapproval for dating an opposing religion. My mother taught us that people were people. You liked them because of their merits, and avoided them for the same. Color was not an issue in my house. I’m glad of that thought process, though it did leave me at a disadvantage when it came to understanding why other parents didn’t think the same way. I realize now, my Mom was “hip”.

On a recent trip to The French Quarter in New Orleans, one of the main things I noticed was people were people. There was no apparent concern what race, sexual gender or back-ground anyone was. They were just people. It was a very freeing feeling, one I wished had carried back to western New York state where I live.

As you go about your day give some thought to love; what it means, why you love the people you do, and how you demonstrate it to others. Then add in all the people of different ethnicity who you know and be thankful for Richard and Mildred Loving, that we can choose to love who we want without ever thinking about whether it is legal or not.

 

You Choose Each Other

Today is National Best Friends Day. What do you consider a best friend? My definition includes things like loyal, accepting, someone I could travel with, someone to share secrets with and best of all, you choose each other because it’s fun and comfortable to spend time together. If your best friend is also a blood relative, you are even luckier.

I am very fortunate. I have best friends in different aspects of my life. I have M.B. who I went all through school with and have stayed in close contact with to this day. We know each others personal life secrets and don’t tell. I have 90-year-old V.B. and 76-year-old K.K. who are older women I can bounce life’s challenges off; they have more experience than I do and can share different view points with me. I have my sewing buddies; three ladies who had very similar childhoods to mine. We talk about current events, our families, and quilting— mostly quilting. We laugh a lot together. I also have a lady friend, J.G., who can often explain other people’s actions to me. And then I have my Blog supporters, N.G., K.P., and R.C.. I’ve never met R.C. but she has a blog and is an author and baker. I’m sure if we had a chance to share a cup of tea or coffee, we could talk for hours about our like interests and hug each other at the end of our visit. I also have three older sisters who I am close to. We can actually travel together and enjoy it. I am truly blessed to have so many close female friends. And let’s not leave out my children, who I can complain to and share the joy of the milestones we all accomplish.

The list wouldn’t be complete without including my husband. When we first met he said, “I don’t care about your past. I am interested in the person you have become because of it.” He has always stuck to that, never questioning or berating me for mistakes or decisions I made before I met him. He is my most loyal supporter and because of his acceptance I have been able to grow as a person. He deserves my trust and loyalty because he treats me the way I need to be treated, not the way he thinks I should be and he let’s me be me.

As I write, or sew, or cook, I have another best friend. My cat, Useless. He is my constant companion, will listen to anything I have to say, warms my lap while I nap or read, and doesn’t argue. He can be a pain about wanting to go out and come back in so many times in an evening, but I never come home to an empty house with him here to greet me. He has a bed in my sewing studio and shares my chair with me, or takes it over is more like it. He’s fourteen now and starting to show his age. That makes me sad.

Today would be a good day to tell your best friend(s) how much they mean to you. Life sure would be empty if we didn’t have our favorite humans to share it with.

 

 

Always Chocolate

It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. According to the National Day of Calendar, vanilla ice cream is sold more than chocolate. I’ll have to think about that. It seems when we go for ice cream, there are more chocolate cones in view than vanilla, especially when it is soft ice cream, or custard. But if you think about the fact that pie à la mode usually uses vanilla and sundaes are often made with vanilla, then I guess the calendar information must be right. Really, what difference does it make in the long run.

When I was a kid I always picked chocolate when we went for ice cream and generally still do. My tastes have matured a bit so now I get it with raspberry or marshmallow added, and maybe some nuts too and or some extra chucks of solid chocolate. It was noticed recently that I order the same thing every time we go to Bruster’s for ice cream. To satisfy my friend’s thought process, the next time we were together, I ordered something different. You guessed it. I didn’t like it and regretted my decision and said so. He left me alone after that.

We have a couple of ice cream places near us that make their own hard ice cream. My husband and I will go for a drive and pass three or four other ice cream places just to get the made locally brands. I have a favorite flavor at each place, but both are chocolate based. I purposely don’t look at the calorie boards when choosing ice cream because it is a fact I don’t want to know. Let me enjoy my ice cream in ignorance. I’m sure it wouldn’t taste as good if I knew the reality of how many calories there is in a double scoop chocolate raspberry truffle in a waffle cone. The sun is out, maybe a trip to the ice cream stand is in order today.

 

Can You Yo-Yo?

Today is National Yo-Yo Day. It is believed that the yo-yo was first invented in ancient Greece because there is a Greek vase painting, from 500 BC, that shows a boy playing with one.  It was made popular in America when Donald F. Duncan, Sr. manufactured the Duncan Yo-Yo in the early 1900s. It’s name was first registered as a trademark in 1932. In 1999, the Duncan Yo-Yo was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York and there is a National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico, California.

Today is the perfect day to get out your yo-yos and try your hand at The Sleeper, Walk the Dog, Shooting the Moon, Around the World or Hop the Fence. For those of you that don’t know, those are specific moves you can do with a yo-yo. I never mastered any of them. I was lucky if I could get the disc to roll back up the string at least once. Even though there was always a yo-yo in the toy cupboard, I don’t recall anyone in my family being good at making it do what they wanted.

According to the National Day of Calendar, this day was founded in 1990 in Arcade, NY by Daniel Volk, the date of Donald F. Duncan’s birth in 1892. Volk once worked for Duncan Toy Company as a talented yo-yo demonstrator from 1976-1978, touring the western part of the United States. As a result, he had the opportunity to impart some of his yo-yoing wisdom to two talented comedians, The Smothers Brothers. In conjunction with National Yo-Yo Day, the Hummingbird Toy Company produced the first of several Smothers Brothers brand yo-yos.

To enjoy some real yo-yo talent, you can go to You-Tube and search for The Smothers Brothers Yo-Yo man videos. There are a few good ones. And if you are too young to remember the Smothers Brothers, they will be a treat to watch for a few minutes. If you are trying to come up with a vacation spot to do something different, I highly recommend The Strong, a museum in my area where you can spend more than a few hours, no matter what age you are.

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