My New Hat

I’ll always remember that pink hat. It was a real beauty, so big and floppy it made you think of a sombrero with flowers.

It was made up of threads, rings of variegated colour, with small white daisies decorating the front. At the back the brim was festooned with purple mums, each with a bright orange eye. As an added touch of pizzazz, a gold braid wound its way artfully around the brim, the ends hanging down in tassels.

My hat adventure started the week after the Sunday School picnic. I’d spent a couple of hours in the sunshine supervising the kindergarten class and came home from the event red-nosed, cheeks on fire.

On Sunday morning sympathetic friends suggested, “You should get yourself a sun hat, Andella.”

I’d always been too vain for a hat, I guess, but as I looked in the mirror now, I gave in gracefully. Yes, a hat may look old-fashioned — it may even make me look like a grandma — but in the long run it would save me some serious suffering. “Saved from the bakin’,” I murmured, then chuckled to myself.

As soon as I was presentable again I headed to the accessories counter at a local upscale department store, determined to fight back against those nasty UV rays that fry you and also wrinkle you in old age. I perused their selection of sports caps, straw hats and floppies. This would be my last sunburn.

Among the various toppers on display I saw this amazing creation. A delight to the eye, a real work of art. Love at first sight! I paled at the intimidating price tag, but affection always has a price, right? From now on I wouldn’t stint on such an important issue as my health and beauty.

So I swiped the old debit card and wore the thing home, feeling delighted knowing eyes were turning my way as I walked down the street. Had here been an Easter Parade I may well have won the “most colorful hat” contest.

The very next week I had the perfect chance to test my gorgeous creation. My sister had invited us to join them for a supper barbeque by the lake and the sun was shining brilliantly that afternoon. So I wore my pink hat, expecting to turn my sister an envious shade of green.

I took it from the shelf and gave it a little shake, enjoying the rustle of the silk flowers. “They look so real,” I told my husband as I admired the color combination. On impulse I gave it a spritz of my favorite cologne, Lilac Legacy.

“Most certainly they do, sweetheart,” he said. “I hope there’ll be no deer around. They may try to sample you.”

“Deer don’t eat lilacs so I’ll be alright,” I assured him. He carried out the picnic basket, I set my hat carefully in the back seat of the car, and we were off for a delightful day at the park.

Sporting my jaunty topper and my fuschia sun-dress, I marched over to the picnic area. But we’d barely joined my sister’s family when I heard this buzzing sound. Next thing my husband and sister were both shouting, “Look out, Andella! Don’t move.”

It’s very hard to restrain from swatting at bees when half a dozen are buzzing in your face. In fact I couldn’t resist slapping at one that landed on my collar and leapt from there to my hairline. Talk about a pain in the neck. A few well placed bee sings will get you there in no time.

Not thinking clearly, I stumbled toward the lake. Or maybe because the stings felt so much like fire my subconscious called for water. Then someone yelled something about some mud on the stings, so I waded knee-deep into the lapping waves and reached down to scoop up a handful.

Our ever-capricious forces of nature have deposited some oblong, slippery rocks in the water right about there. Of course my foot had to land on the edge of one. I groped for balance, took a misstep, and fell straight forward. And my beautiful pink hat with its cargo of mums and daisies, went floating away, pursued by a dozen frustrated bees.

Thankfully my husband was right there to assist me. But what consolation did my loving, compassionate sister say as I straggled out of the lake?

“Hey, Sis. You made quite the tsunami.” Adding insult to injury.

(Original image of pink hat: Ben Kerckz — Pixabay)

Ragtag Daily Prompt : DELIGHT

Barbering is An Art

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is EMPATHY.

Merriam-Webster has a long-winded definition for this word, while LEXICO puts it simply as “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” The idea is that, even if you haven’t had exactly the same experience, you can picture yourself in their place and get what someone else is feeling.

Reading fellow blogger Biff’s article about his new COVID-style hairdo inspires me to write about my efforts as family barber.

I must tell you that I’ve gained a good deal of empathy for beginning stylists. I now get a sense of how they must feel as a new customer takes his/her place in the chair and they both wonder how this is going to turn out. Even if the barber or stylist has had oodles of practice at styling school, all heads — and hair types — are not created equal.

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Clkr-Free-Vector-Images

A barber is an artist.

There have been times when I waited for dear hubby’s barber to finish his hair cut and I’ve watched the flash of those barber scissors. Skillfully snip-snipping.

And voilà, a perfectly neat haircut. What a talent!

But, as the whole world knows, barber shops and beauty salons are closed these days just like many other businesses. Which is why my husband handed me an old pair of barber shears last month and told me he needed a hair cut. He was not willing to wait another eight weeks or so to see a barber.

I examined the rather rusty scissors – he says he’s had them for thirty years – and wondered if they’d cut anything. The loosely joined blades barely met in the middle. Definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Back in our salad days I did cut his hair, but always used a clipper. However, he’s been going to a barber for almost thirty years and I’ve gotten as rusty as these scissors. A clipper would be handy, but who thought about this? I wonder if hair clippers have sold out by now like hand soaps?

I sighed and began the task at hand and thankfully the tip of the scissors did actually cut. As I snipped away, I drew major consolation from the thought that he won’t be out in public very much these days. And he assured me that if I make a mess, in a couple of weeks no one will see it any more.

Wielding those scissors, I started to feel like Leonardo da Vinci with his chisel, wanting to bring forth the statue of David. The artist in me kicked in and, snip by snip, I sculpted the standard senior gentleman’s haircut. Nowhere near professional, but not so bad.

Yesterday his hair had grown long enough that he wanted a trim, so we had a repeat performance. He has to appear in public today but, as Biff wrote in his article, a lot of folks are looking a little shaggy these days. And who knows how many other wives and partners have been handed scissors and told to “do something with this”?

Yes, I managed. But, believe me, I’ll be there cheering when the barbers open their doors for business again.

Too Easy To Toss Our Stuff

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CINCH.

Since few people ride a horse today, the first definition of CINCH: a strap that fastens around the horse’s belly and holds the saddle of a horse, is not so commonly known.

The second meaning, something easily done, is still in use, but other expressions have crowded in. You’ll often hear, “It was a breeze” or “a snap,” “easy-peasy,” “a cakewalk” or “a piece of cake.” Merriam-Webster lists one I haven’t heard, “duck soup.”

I can’t imagine what’s so easy about duck soup, but no one asked me before making it up.

I do know one thing that has become far too easy— I was reading a post about it yesterday. It’s a shame to us in North America just how easy this has become.

Our North American dilemma: What to do with the clothing we’ve worn five-ten times and now it’s SO out of fashion we have to get rid of it?

Oh, that’s a cinch! Donate it to some second hand clothing store like Value Village, Goodwill, or some charity shop. And feel good. “Some needy person…” and all that.

Sad to say, only about 20% of the clothing that’s donated is sold. So what do they do with the 80% of the used clothing  they can’t sell? Easy-peasy. Bundle it up and send it to some third-world country. And feel good. “Some needy people…etc.”

According to this article — Click HERE to READ — the U.S. sends away over a billion pounds of used clothing every year, mainly to East Africa. And having been manager of an MCC Thrift Shop myself, I can verify that here in Canada we aren’t doing anything different; what we couldn’t sell we packed up and sent to the local Value Village, or to one woman who collected our stuff, bundled it up, and sent to her African home country.

It’s not hard to grasp that countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda are feeling SWAMPED and are actually considering banning our stuff. Oh NO! If they won’t take it, we’ll have to make more and bigger landfill sites.

Many voices are raised in protest against pollution and global warming, but we are the recipients of, the ones whose lifestyle is supporting, all this pollution. I read an article a few days ago about the industrial wastes produced in China — and dumped into a huge toxic tailing pond — to make the components for our cell phone and other electronics. Yet the demand continues around the world for newer and better.

I’ve read many articles insisting, or wailing, that “The government needs to do something…” But I’m thinking the answer to cutting back on pollution may be found where we don’t want to look: in our own personal budget. Cinch it a bit. (re: def #1)

Do take time to read this article. I think the writer is giving a good overall picture, plus some practical answers with regard to choosing clothing for long-term wear. And I don’t want to discourage anyone from recycling by making charitable donations; this avenue is definitely worthwhile. Sales generate income for various charitable organizations.

The bigger problem I’m seeing is that we’ve built our world on consuming. Things aren’t built to last. And what would stores do if they couldn’t sell us all that stuff we’re going to throw away? Businesses would go bankrupt; workers would be laid off. Even a short-term dip like production in China slowing down because of the Coronavirus has led US and Canadian banks to drop interest rates in order to stimulate the economy.

How to get back from this point, that is the question. Would a grassroots movement work or wreak havoc? Could each of us do more to stop pollution by buying less new stuff, without throwing the country into a major recession? Important questions to ask. Yet it seems most of us have the vague sense that somehow, someday, our consumption-driven society is going to crash.

Almost Everybody

I wrote this fun piece in response to Fandango’s one-word prompt for today: ALMOST. Check out his blog to see the other responses, or add your own.
I was especially prompted to write this tale by Frank Prem’s not-quite-haiku, Almost a Cockatoo. You’ll see the link to his blog, Seventeen Syllable Poetry, listed among the others.  🙂

ALMOST EVERYBODY HAS A PAIR

“Mom, I need new running shoes.”

“So what else is new?” was Dad’s comment.

“You just got new shoes back in spring, Brandi.” Mom reminded her.

“That’s right,” Dad agreed. “And as I recall, they cost me a wallet full of bills.”

“Mom, Dad. Listen to me! The shoes you got me back in spring were El-cheapos. Now they’re like, RAGS! They’re decomposing with every step. I’m gonna get gangrene if I keep wearing them. I REALLY need new shoes.” Brandi stuck out a foot to show the evidence and wrinkled her nose. “I need something a little higher quality.”

Dad jabbed a finger in her direction. “The way you and your sister go through shoes, all we can afford are El-Cheapo brands. Do I dare ask how much ‘a little higher quality’ is going to set me back?”

Brandi rolled her eyes. “Oh, Dad. All you think of is money! You don’t understand how…how…ostracized I feel wearing Excess-Economy brand when all the other kids are wearing these cool new TECH-tonic ‘Earthmovers’. Kids who have ‘em say they really grip the ground and…”

“And all your classmates are wearing these?” Mom asked.

Brandi’s sister Trena nodded in agreement. “I’ll need a new pair soon, too.”

“Even some of the poorest kids,” said Brandi. “And they’re, like, $220 a pair.”

Dad’s eyes popped open. “Two hundred and…” He whistled. “And everybody in your class has a pair? Except some of the poorest kids, of course — like you two.”

Brandi stuck out her chin.“Well, yeah. Do you want us to be scorned by the whole school? Mocked on Facebook because our shoes are rotting on our feet?”

Mom looked at Dad and raised her eyebrows. Dad looked at Mom and raised his eyebrows. Somehow they both managed to maintain a ‘bank-manager-considers-loan’ sobriety.

“We’ll see.” Mom said. “Now that I think of it, Carrie’s cousin volunteers at school Thursday mornings. I’ll ask her what she thinks of these news shoes everybody’s wearing. You called them Earthmovers?”

Brandi nodded, squirmed, and sent her sister a desperate glance. “Well, almost everybody. At least five kids in my class have a pair. But the rest are getting them as soon as…”

Dad grinned.  “As soon as they can talk their folks into saving them from mocking and scorn?” He winked at Mom.

Brandi and Trena gave each other a meaningful look and rolled their eyes as if to say, “Parents. They’re so…archaic!”