Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Long Ago by Michael McGarrity

 I read The Long Ago in one day. I waffled between  rating the book ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and decided that while the story has some predictability and a few slow parts, overall, I loved the themes of loyalty, ties that bind, that family isn’t necessarily biology, and the role of fate. 

Perhaps The Long Ago resonated with me so much because the story takes place during the earliest days of the war ( AKA ‘conflict’) in Vietnam, when I was a child. It fueled memories war correspondents on the 6 O’clock news. Ray Lansdale joined the Army to escape from his dysfunctional childhood in rural Montana. His sister Barbara ran away as well. During a leave from the Army, Ray embarks on a search for his sister the old fashioned way….paper trails, interviews with people, missing persons posters, police assistance, like gum shoes before cellphones and the Internet. 

The Long Ago is a mixture of intrigue, family dynamics, romance, and just a little bit of Mickey Mouse. Now, I want to read some of Michael McGarrity’s earlier works. 

Thanks to Bookbrowse.Com and WW Norton & Company for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishes July 2023

Friday, March 10, 2023

So, Now I Have Cataracts


At least 15 years ago I had Lasic surgery with Dr. Andrew Holzman, one of the most respected Lasic practitioners in the country. He transitioned me from nearly blind to 20/15 in both eyes. It was a miracle. Retrogression is very unusual with Lasic. So, it was with a modicum of alarm that I began to notice deteriorating vision just around 2018 or 2019. It was just before COVID.

I had an examination and discovered my vision had devolved to 20/30 in each eye. A year later there was more retrogression. In 2022, it was within 6 months that I could no longer see chalkboard menses or watch television. I called to schedule an appointment before my annual eye exam. But I was told to wait for my regular appointment. 

By the time of my exam, my vision impairment had doubled. I was almost as impaired as I’d been in 2007. What! 

After a few tests with dilation, I was told I had cataracts on both eyes. This explained the halos, poor night vision, blurry Vaseline filtered sight, speedy deterioration. I said I wanted to consult with an ophthalmologist for a surgical consult. And, I was really annoyed! I thought cataracts were for OLD people! That is NOT me!

Monday, March 6, 2023

My Journey With Real Life Style- Alterations

One of the biggest eye-openers during the initial closet edit involved my realization  that minor alterations to some of my clothes would make such a significant difference, resulting in a much more flattering garment. Raising a hemline of a dress by an inch lengthened my legs. Hemming trousers to wear with a specific shoe or heel height changed the look entirely. 

Lani showed my the way replacing shoulder pads in a jacket or dress elevated the look. And I learned that my good fortune in being born with an appropriate ankle curve makes everything look better! This is not something I’d ever considered. 

While I’d often heard that a good tailor is your best friend, I’d really not considered taking the time to alter off the rack clothes so they would fit me  better. Again, I thought that was for the rich and famous. But it makes sense. I’d created a toile and used a dress form to ensure my Civil War wardrobe fit perfectly. Why did I not realize that my 21st Century clothing should fit as well as my 19th Century wardrobe! 

Because I had to experience sewing I made the decision to complete my on alterations. If I was able to make a  Civil War  era taffeta boned evening bodice, fashion a spoon  bonnet and sew a double lined ankle length camel hair coat from a 1954 Vogue pattern, surely I could manage my own alterations. 

Consequently, I have set about hemming my trousers and dresses, taking up the shoulders on some tops, and updating the fit on the items Lani pinned. And I’ve completed nearly two thirds on my projects. What a feeling of accomplishment! 

And I’ve completed the work while enjoying true crime podcasts! 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Journey With Real Life Style ~ After The Initial Closet Edit


A second session was scheduled to take place via Zoom on March 1st during which time Lani and Kyle would guide me through the process of editing my summer clothes, shoes and handbags. 

But almost immediately I felt compelled to begin my own preliminary review based upon what I’d already learned about colors that definitely did not work for my 2023 self. I was able to immediately determine that two of my shawls ( peach and berry) needed to go, as well as some swimwear, ballets flats and linen dresses. 

I was also able to sort through some bins on the floor and top shelf of my closet and move the ‘keepers’ into now empty drawers. I’d not felt to organized in decades.

The impact of the initial edit and organization was immediate. The very next morning, as I walked into my closet, I found it much easier to get dressed. I pulled out a pair of my MM LaFleur Oshima pants that I hadn’t worn since before the COVID epidemic (because I forgot I owned them), pulled on  one of my easily accessible top, and paired it with my newly styled Merritt Jardigan  and was ready to face my Zoom meeting feeling completely comfortable. 

I had previously had so many arguably lovely items stuffed to the gills that I had no idea what I had or how to put things together. Instead, I would walk in the closet and just feel frustrated, thinking I had nothing to wear. 

Now that my focus is on curating and keeping the best of the best, I feel liberated.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

My Initial Wardrobe Edit With Real Life Style

 Catharsis! As defined  (in  part) by Merriam -Webster as a purification that brings about spiritual renewal.

The morning of February 23, 2023 Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy with Real Life Style arrived at my home in Winchester, Virginia with a rolling clothes rack, trash bags, safety pins, labels, shoulder pads, cameras and a keen fashion sense to begin the initial edit of my wardrobe for my journey to a new stylish Vivian. 

We began the process with the clothes hanging in my well organized but overflowing closet. I needed to try on everything to develop an appreciation of my best silhouette, fit, colors, sleeve length, hem length, shoulders, shoulder pads, distracting details, rise, where the buttons are situated for a jacket, trim, whether jeans bag in the belly when one walks, what shoes work, type of neck on tops, whether an item accentuated the wrong features of my body, and if a piece was just okay or fabulous. At 63, I deserve fabulous. 

Certain words caused me to cringe. Really, is there any word more offensive to a ‘woman of a certain age’ than MATRONLY? I would rather one denigrate my honor, my family, my cats, my sense of humor and my professional reputation than call me MATRONLY! Yikes! That resulted in my tossing an entire drawer of what I previously considered pseudo flattering merino wool cardigans. 

When we reached the skirt category, my beloved friend piled on. While Lani and Kyle considered ways to style a selection of easy care, cotton knot, maxi skirts, my friend Gina vociferously argued NO!  NO! Be gone with you! So, out they went into the donation bags. 

At the end of the day, 12 trash bags were filled with items that no longer served who I am in 2023. Certain colors…specifically peach, orange, bright pink coral, burgundy, merlot, most pastels, dusty gray and anything “busy” ended up on the cutting room floor. If it didn’t say ‘elevated sophisticated’ I said goodbye. I thought the deselection of certain cashmere sweaters might cause a bit of angst, but it did not.

After 6 1/2 hours a the grueling wardrobe extravaganza, I felt at peace. Lani & Kyle took the bags of discards with them so I wouldn’t have the opportunity to reclaim any of the rejects. Those clothes were donated to charity the next morning.

Gina and I celebrated the fashion success  for me and her new fabulous professional opportunity by splitting a delicious bottle of Greenhill Winery Blanc  de Blanc, the best sparkling wine Virginia has to offer.

Next steps ~ Stay tuned😎

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Engaging A Personal Stylist~The Selection ~Real Life Style


After my initial 45 minute telephone interview with Lani Inlander, the owner of Real Life Style in Washington, DC, I knew I’d found the solution to my overwhelming wardrobe challenges. It was clear she appreciated what I wanted to accomplish. I was impressed with her resume and the depth of knowledge the team at Real Life Style brought to the table.

It is not a particular secret that I love to shop. The dopamine rush I feel when finding a treasure online, in a brick & mortar store, or in an alley in Asia makes my heart sing. But, this tendency to make purchases of clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories resulted in a stuffed closet and overflowing drawers and bins with no concept how to create outfits that fit who I am today, in 2023. My out of control purchasing has no doubt delayed my ability to retire for at least a couple of years…combined, of course, with my appreciation for dry red wine and delightful sparkling whites.

Lani came up with a preliminary plan, which she emailed to me with an invoice, to reserve the date for she and her partner, Kyle Dunphy, to journey to the hinterland to analyze my wardrobe. It was set for Thursday, February 23rd. 

I was so excited about this event that I invited my friends Gina and Missi to join us and see the process as it unfolded. 

In the next episode I will detail what was truly an epic event in my style journey. I made an intentional decision to approach the process with an open mind, fully prepared to listen to the experts and let go of what no longer served me. The prospect was exciting and daunting. Stay tuned!

The link to the Real Life  Style website: