Dear P.E. Teacher

 “Your family isn’t very athletic, is it?”

My sisters and I have lived with those words for decades, thanks to a thoughtless P.E. teacher many years ago. As the eldest, I heard this second hand from my middle sister, who must have been horrified to hear this from a teacher. Our youngest sister actually played softball, so I think she broke the mold. She got bonked in the head with a softball one time and though it was scary because my mom had to watch for a concussion, it was also awesome because Baby Sister was tough. 

I hated P.E.  and sports for many years. I would begrudgingly go bowling with a friend, or doggy paddle in a pool, but other than a few sit ups here and there, I didn’t exercise. I wasn’t very athletic, so why would I?

Fast forward through college physical education to my early forties, which is when I first played on an organized sports team. I worked at an office that played in a softball league, and I joined. I was way out of my depth and felt terribly unathletic but I actually had fun. Not having participated in organized teams sports, I was surprised at how fun it was- the camerarderie, the feeling of being part of a team, and the crappy beer. 

Something in my brain opened up with that experience, and I joined a big box gym. It was really hard because of  my lack of self confidence and training. I went to a step class and couldn’t get the rhythm down so I never went back. I tried a yoga glass but my upper body strength wasn’t great and the instructor had no time to show me an altenative so I never went back.  I ended up injuring myself in a personal training session with an enthusiastic but inexperienced personal trainer who had no idea how out of shape I was nor that I was no longer 35 years old. I spent a lot of time doing physical therapy, having surgery, more physical therpay, and the old feelings of “not being very athletic” came flooding back to me. I tried a new trainer who showed me some Pilates moves but was ultimately more interested in chatting about her injured back and her size 4 clothing issues. I was moving further away from my goal of getting in shape and really had no idea how to get back into exercising.

My friend Colleen had started working out with a personal trainer and going to the gym regularly. She looked (and looks!)  awesome and STRONG. In a weak moment I agreed to go to the gym with her- I was nervous but curious. As it turns out, I’ve stuck with StudioX for more than a year, and it’s truly changed my life. I lift weights, jog, use the rowing machine, and can do a burpee. I work on balance, strength training, and cardio. I’ve lost a few pounds and gained muscles and confidence. And I AM athletic- who else would do deadlifts for fun?!

Many thanks to Colleen for luring me into the gym, to trainers Jesse and Christina for pushing just the right amount, and for Tim for having a clean, comfortable, low key space to practice and learn.

And dear PE teacher- you were wrong. My athletic ability was there all along; it just needed a little positive encouragement to blossom.

The image is a cigarette card from the George Arents Collection of the NYPL Digital Collections. I’m pretty sure this “Prone Falling” exercise is a burpee in disguise. See the full exercise card collection here.

NEXT POST – New Toys! Bosu balls, kettlebells, and foam rollers


Pink wine time!

The first sunny days of spring are always a welcome sight here in the rainy Pacific Northwest. I like to celebrate the first slightly warm, sunny day with a  glass of rosé. My first glass of the year was Underwood Rosé from The Union Wine Company in the Willamette Valley. The aroma was a pleasing mix of ripe bananas, melon, and a whiff of hay, and the flavor was (very) crisp with a slight tingle on the tongue. It’s a very refreshing wine for warm days but too tart to eat with a dressing soaked salad. I think grilled chicken would be perfect with it. (Doesn’t everyone plan dinner after they’ve selected the wine?) I was pleased to find an affordable Oregon rosé  and will definitely buy it again.

Happy spring!

Lacy Susan

No, not the edible Lacey Susan, a buttery, sugary cookie. And most definitely NOT that spinning thing in the middle of the dining table called a Lazy Susan. (Don’t laugh, KB or EAS!) 

My fondness for lace has only been evident in the past decade or so. I hated to wear lace as a kid because it was always itchy, and as a young woman, I thought it was too prissy and frilly for me. 

Fast forward a few decades, and I have started to appreciate pretty lace and actually wear it on occasion. (But not that scratchy stuff from the 1970s!)

One of my first lace purchases was this beautiful 1920s lettuce green velvet shawl with beige lace trim. The lace is soft and lightweight, and it’s fun to wear. I’m pretty sure it’s machine made.

I wear a lot of black so of course I have been looking at numerous black lace dresses and shawls. This floral design on a 1930s dress really appeals to me. To my very untrained eye, it looks handmade but it could be high end machine-made lace. (Crafty friends, what do you think?) It seems too fragile to actually wear; there are some tears in the lace.

I also photographed this lace, which was on a different late 1920s/early 1930s dress. I like the texture, and it feels sturdier than the example above. The dress is a bias cut long sleeveless dress that’d be nice for summer.

This is a vintage bed jacket with lace trim and embroidery on peach colored silk.

This beige lace looks great with a bedjacket I bought at a really cool thrift store in Paris.

I wish I’d paid a little more attention to my grandmother’s crochet lessons years ago. The trim and butterfly on the chemise below are so pretty. I’ve seen it called filet lace or filet embroidery.

I don’t usually think of Coco Chanel and “lace” together but the photograph below illustrates her use of lace in evening wear. Beautiful!

Snippets of Cuba

Fireman’s Monument, Colon Cemetery, Havana

My visit to Cuba a couple of months ago with my husband was a wonderful experience with lots of cultural activities, warm hospitality everywhere we went, new friends on our tour, hearty food, and lots of rum. Did I mention warm weather and balmy breezes? As a lazy sporadic blogger, I’ve neglected to post many photos of our trip but here’s a little taste of the interesting  things we saw. 

We traveled before Obama announced that the US is loosening travel restrictions; the Cubans were very friendly and didn’t seem to harbor ill will towards us. Toward our government, perhaps…

The photo above from Colon Cemetery focuses on a frightening bat and a nun holding a sprig of flowers. The memorial honors firefighters who died in a terrible fire in 1890. 

Banyan Tree

Banyan trees are so alien with their exposed roots. 

Vintage American Cars

There were dozens of old American cars lovingly painted and cared for. I rode in one our last night there and I was amazed at how well kept the interior was. Many of them now have Mitsubishi or other non-original motors but they still look so incredibly cool.

Ernest Hemingway’s House with View of Booze Bottles

I took this shot from outside Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigia. Tourists aren’t allowed inside but we wandered the grounds and looked through the windows.

Mail Slot

I want a mail slot like this!

Wall Typewriters

We ate at a restaurant that had these old typewriters near the entrance. Cuban people make use of so many things we would just throw away; they’re an incredibly resourceful people. 

Have you been to Cuba, or would you go?

French Magazine Advertisements from 1949


I was thumbing through an old issue of France-Illustration today and was enchanted by the graphic design of many of the advertisements. It was a Christmas issue from 1949 but the few visual references to the holiday were discreet, as I’d expect a French magazine to be.

I’ve posted advertisements from this magazine in a earlier post, which included advertisements from perfumes, writing implements, and fancy combs. Perfume ads seem to be ubiquitous – very French!

Which of these ads do you like the best? I like the Hermes typewriter ad and the woman in the beautiful purple dress. I need to do more research on what company or “thing” the ad was selling.