Granny Squares & Love


Somewhere…in a mound of disorganized photos sits a pic of me, wearing the same “Granny squares” scarf, vest and beanie as worn in this sweet pic of our “DD” (dear daughter) when she was six years old. One day…I’m gonna organize family photos into some digital order.  But still, I remember the day DD and I found these pieces and she couldn’t wait to try them on.  Camera hog or model? 😉 I’m not sure, but it was fun to see how excited she was to try on mom’s ‘old stuff’.

The ensemble DD has on is a very vintage knit set, gifted to me by my talented “Grammarie” in 1972, I think.  Her name was actually Grandma Marie but as a kid it was too much of a mouthful, so sister Lisa I shortened things up to the run-on “Grammarie”. She didn’t mind.

I’ve learned thatgranny squares’ made a comeback as fun, nostalgic fashion fare.  Fabulous, I say! I hadn’t thought about the design for years until I found the pieces in a bin of family treasures, long forgotten. In addition to the set you see in the photo, Grammarie was famous for her doilies.  They were everywhere in her house. If she wasn’t crocheting dramatically intricate, white, lacey doilies, she was knitting sweaters, mittens, hats…or making granny square items.  Her hands were always busy. 

I’ve written before about my incapacity for crafting and lack of coordination with sewing, knitting – textile arts of all sorts.  Maybe I should try harder, just as a tribute to Grammarie?  As much as I love and miss her, I don’t think I have the patience.  But I have the memories – evoked by finding these sweet granny square pieces.  Marie was a treasure…even without considering her crochet talents.  I’ll explain.

When my parents fell in love, they were both married to other people.  It was a horrible, awful, terrible scandal in a small town.  The only thing the warring factions of families agreed upon? Ostracizing my folks.

Sister Lisa was born as a preemie during this challenging time and while the magnitude of her disabilities wasn’t apparent at first, there were concerns. I often wondered if more knowledge about Lisa’s frailty might’ve tempered the venom my parents endured from friends and family.  If not for Marie, mom, dad, and Lisa would’ve been homeless…as my dad recalled years later, “without so much as a pot to piss in”.

Marie wasn’t an actual grandparentShe became one, by choice, because she “adopted” my mom and dad.  Lisa, too. When they had nowhere to go, she gave dad at job tending bar at the small-town watering hole she and her husband owned.  Marie also offered mom and dad an attic apartment, to live in rent free above the bar.

If not for Marie’s generosity, I’m not sure my parents would’ve made it.  The financial and medical hurdles related to Lisa’s care were overwhelming and the strength it took to summon the courage to deal with the loss of their support systems?  I can’t imagine it.  It takes hearty stock to navigate those waters.  But they did it and despite other hurdles in their future, I suspect those early days of riding out storms served as relationship cement – bonding my parents together. Forever. 

When I think about the scant keepsakes I have from Grammarie, I realize how precious the lovingly handcrafted granny square items are.  Symbolic, tangible artifacts of one woman’s kindness to a little family in need.  Mom and dad always thought of Marie as family and for thirty years while Lisa and I grew up, we never questioned her role in our lives.  She was family in every way that mattered.

Someday our DD will decide who these precious, handcrafted items belong to. Grammarie’s kindness and love lives on in them and the fact that granny squares have made a comeback? How awesome is that? I think she’d love it…and I can almost hear her say, “Glory be…I never knew they went OUT of style!”

Vicki ❤

Gratitude and HATtitude

lady in black hat

I forgot I was wearing it, probably because my brain was still thawing out?  Wooooo…when the temps drop in the Midwest, it’s no joke and the one-two punch of piercing cold and unrelenting wind?  Wowza. 

Still, despite the cold, I’m out doing my thing because errands need to be run, right?  I love swooping through stores doing the quick round-up of this-and-that…trying to avoid crowds as much as possible (which…as we veer closer and closer to Thanksgiving around here is hard to wrangle – crowd avoidance, I mean).

Yesterday…while attempting to navigate as if I was incognito…a sweet man bounced me out of my inner world to join the human race.  We both approached a checkout lane at the same time…you know that moment. Kinda like the experience we have while driving and the 4-way stop.  You go…no, no, you go…and I’m pretty sure Todd Fulginiti wrote about that recently in a fun post. 

Anywho…polite awkwardness surfaced as the kind gentleman waved me into the line ahead of him and said, “Right back at ya”.  Right back at me – what?  I wondered.  I smiled and said thanks…but I think my clueless face conveyed dimness…that I didn’t get his witticism…didn’t know it WAS a witticism.  Then he pointed to my hat…

I’ve bored a few of you with my lament about hats…several weeks ago.  I know I need one…but I struggle to find a “good” one for my bowling ball extra-large pumpkin’ head.  But I like my smiley face hat.  You know – smiley faces and all.  Very, very Vicki – to the point of being annoying – and yes, I’ve heard about it for years.  (“You’re too sunny, too smiley…it’s fakery or pharmaceuticals.”  I won’t tell you who shared THAT comment but it wasn’t very nice, right?)

I realized the kind man’s “Right back at ya” was about the smile…on my hat…when he pointed to it.  Ohhhh.  Yep!  “Thank you!”  I said and he followed with “I should’ve said ‘right back HAT-cha’ to be more clear.”

Love that…such a fun and wee little life affirming moment, trading smiles in the checkout line.  My kind of moment. 

From me, and my hat…here’s hoping you find your own HATtitude of gratitude…and time to giggle when you can.

Vicki 😊

He Wore Pink…

Yep, he wore pink, before it was fashionable…for men of his generation.  My dad grew up at a time when, at least here in the U.S., men tended to wear more muted tones.  Shades of brown, navy, beige and variations, sure, and his closet was a neutral palette.

When life took him to California in the 80’s, he found his vibe…and it was pink.  Rosey tones, corals, blush hues and yep, an occasional floral (gasp!).  Paired with his beloved Birkenstocks, my previously buttoned-up papa (learn more about him – his helping heart AND his fashion sense in this silly post) renewed his soul with color

My mom? She was shocked and referred to him as a ‘show pony’…to which, he’d just smile and say – with a wink: “If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.” 😉

That’s my Sunday morning rewind smile – from my Miami Vice wannabe papa, smirking and smiling from behind those shades, just for you.

-Vicki 😊

Hat Head

man with a hat one
The Hubster…in a Hat

Do you have a face for a hat? 😉 I don’t think I do, but as it gets colder here in the Midwest, I think I need to put a little effort into chapeau-seeking. The last time I comfortably wore a hat it was a bucket style (hello, 90’s!) worn while walking a picket line with faculty colleagues.  Hats were not optional gear…it was cold and blustery! Beyond my complaining, though, I developed mad respect for protesters and picketers everywhere who face unpredictable weather in order to stand up, to be seen – in solidarity – for their chosen cause.

Me? I know I’m a cream puff and the combo of cold AND wet whilst protesting? Bring me a hat.  I didn’t give a rat’s patootie whether I looked good or not.  Survival, people!  (Okay – I know I’m being dramatic, but I don’t have an iota of outdoorsy in me.  Don’t get me started about rustic life and camping.  Gawd.)

But this pic? It’s the DH (dear hubster) nonchalantly rocking a little knit beanie like his head was made for it.  When hubby and I were dating…precisely one million years ago…he and my dad rustled through the coat closet, right around October if memory serves. Why? They were intent on golfing ‘one last time’ before the greens and fairways were snow-covered…and they needed more than golf gloves for the adventure.

Hubster retrieved this particular knit hat from the mound of woe begotten and mismatched mittens and gloves.  The little beanie was mine, but I could never figure out how to wear it.  Over the bangs or bangs tucked in?  Ears partially covered or fully concealed? Long hair down – or pulled on top in my signature Pebbles Flintstone poof? (Don’t judge.)

That blasted hat stressed me out. It looked so good on the DH, but I hated it on my head.  It matched a suede jacket PERFECTLY and would’ve been a great accessory and that’s where I made my mistake.  For me, hats need a purpose, like my 90’s bucket baby.  Maybe I need to rustle through the coat closet, just like my dad and hubs did decades ago.  Maybe I’ll find a beloved beret for a look-see and a tryout?  Maybe.  No promises. If nothing else, maybe my bucket baby is still around for a ‘take two’.

What’s your HATtitude? Please share and thank you for allowing me to whine.

Xo,

Vicki 😉

White Shirt, Helping Heart

man wearing sunglasses in white shirt

I took this photo of my dad while on a family vacation in Mexico – decades ago.  It became a favorite – for both of us – but possibly not for the reasons you’d imagine.  Yep, it’s a handsome pic of a handsome man but the binding between us had nothing to do with mutual admiration for his face (or his swanky mirrored shades).

It was all about the shirt.  Take a look. What do you see?  Pretty buttoned-up, right?  Indeed.  Even on vacation, my dad was tidy and scrupulous about how he dressed.  Known for packing more outfits than my mom – by a mile – dad loved his white dress shirts for any and all occasions

Did he tote along typical beach duds?  Sort of.  If you’d call a slew of short sleeve 😉 white button downs “casual wear”.  Any tropical board shorts in his suitcase?  No, no, no.  Only plain (and seemingly starched and pressed) navy, knee-length swim trunks.  Two pairs – so one pair was ever-ready, dry and good-to-go. 

He was fastidious to a fault and endured a lot of ridicule (yep, from me) for his ‘board room’ vs. ‘beach’ attire but he was also generous and charming.  As tightly wound as he was about his appearance and apparel, he was equally loose and loving with those he cared about.  I think his white shirt rigidity made it easier for him to be spontaneous in other ways.

My dad knew how to make everyone around him feel like a big-time winner.  How?  He never wanted or needed eyes on him.  I suspect he’d had enough of that along the way. At 6’ 4” tall, he towered over most folks and by size alone, was cast as a caretaker.  The solid one. 

In an unguarded moment once he told me he suspected he was a mighty oak in another life because people so willingly trusted him and admired his strength.  Sometimes, he said, strength he knew he DID NOT possess (or was in short supply).  Still – he rose and served – but when he could manage it, he mostly wanted to be in the background and not center stage.  “All the better to have eyes on who needs help the most”, he’d say.

He’s been gone for many years and yet he’s always nearby.  I figure nuggets of my heart and soul – the cosmic soup that is ME – came from pretty good stock.  His.  And that’s sweet comfort for me, every day.

-Vicki ❤

Comfy Wins!

black and white photo of blonde woman wearing black turtleneck

I confess.  The pandemic pushed me to admit I’m not wired for buttoned-up fashion.  Time spent working from the comfort of my favorite pajama pants propelled me toward cush. 

Cushy fabrics, forgiving waistlines and silhouettes.  But wait – there’s more! 😊 I love all black outfits.  I know what you might be thinking.  Whatever it is, I’ve heard it.  You’re such a happy, positive person – why all the black?  Oh – black again, Vicki?  Shocker!  Do you own ANY color?  Maybe a print or two? 

I admit.  My choices may not be popular but you must admit there are benefits.  Everything matches (wink!) and my occasional accessories – a belt or a scarf or a fun pair of shoes – stand out so much more. 

There are down sides.  My closet is…well…pretty dark.  Thank goodness for good lighting (all the better to root out which of my nine favorite black turtlenecks I might fancy on any given day). 

Do I care?  Not so much.  The joy of settling into my own skin and my love of black clothing is liberating.  I’m not foregoing comfort for the stress of what-goes-with-what any longer. 

Call me Steve Jobs if you must.  I’m okay with that.  Ah, the love of a good black turtleneck.

Let’s celebrate, not condemn the choice, if for no other reason than the fashion world’s loss of Issey Miyake last week.  Miyake famously outfitted Jobs in an endless wardrobe of black t-necks and made Jobs the most recognizable and (I’m guessing here) the most comfortable CEO.  Ever.

Cheers to what works for you.  I’m off to buy more Woolite dark laundry detergent. Need to stock up!

-Vicki 😉