Love and the application of lipstick

Like a good many women, I like to look my best.

Therefore, I spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom each morning, applying lotions, makeup, hair-styling products, and other mysterious unguents in a (more or less successful) attempt to make myself look slightly better than I would in the natural state. Which in my case would be a pale face accompanied by tired freckles, less-than-luminous eyes, and thin, non-luscious lips.

It’s the lip portion of my face that I’d like to discuss today.

My lipstick-wearing has changed and evolved since becoming a mother lo these many years. In my teens and twenties, I slathered on the lip color with abandon, never worrying about its potential effect on others. Sure, I was careful not to unintentionally give cherry-red lips to the men I loved (or at least smooched), but other than that, I lacquered up the lips anytime I felt the kaleidoscope that was my eye-shadow palette at the time — we’re talking The Cyndi-Lauper Eighties here — needed the balance of some glossy hues.

Then came the nineties, and my entry into The Childbearing Years. Once I’d produced an infant, I gave up wearing not only lipstick but also perfume, after experiencing the shock of receiving back perfumy infants when I’d allowed them to be held by over-scented female relatives.

But mainly I kissed my sweet babies so often that there never was time to even think about lipsticking myself. Occasionally I’d dab on some Carmex to ward off winter chappiness, but otherwise my lips were completely au naturale.

Later, with preschoolers around, the high-volume kissing tends to be reciprocated. You love to kiss them, and now they’re kissing you back. Double the smoochiness and lipstick-wearing its pretty much down to zero.

Then there’s the period in the middle years where they don’t seem to want you to kiss them all that much, say from around the age of 9 until about 14. Oh, they’ll put up with it a little, if there is no one important around — that is, one of their friends, someone around their age, or anyone who remotely resembles a human — and you get to sneak in a good-bye kiss now and then. But by and large, during these years, kissing your offspring is over.

Then come the teen years where they seem to crave it — then abhor it on alternating days. But never, ever, kiss them and leave your lipstick behind! That’s a death sentence from a teenager, right there. They will rub their face until it’s raw rather than having something as embarrassing as Mommy Lip Residue on their cheek, forehead, or whatever part you can snag before they flee. But oh how they hug and kiss when they themselves are in need of affirmation and affection! Mama’s need to kiss ’em and show these ingrates how much she loves them? Fuggedabowdit!

The only good thing I can conclude about these many-changing periods in the life of a kissing mother is that is spreads out the cost of purchasing cosmetics. Right now, with kids at the 8, 15, and 17 levels, I’m doing a moderate amount of kissing, and thus only remember to apply lipstick every third day or so. I’ll probably make it until Spring with this tube I’m on right now.

With no female relatives either in the possession, or in the manufacturing phase, of an infant currently, I don’t envision having babies to kiss on the regular, so my lipstick-wearing will doubtless increase.

But whatever the state of my lips may be, I’m happy to report that I am the satisfied owner of a husband who allows me to kiss him whenever the mood strikes, and I don’t remember any complaints as to whether my lips be lacquered or bare. He seems to appreciate any and all affection I throw his way, irrespective of whatever the state of my war paint may be.

This is not a shameless bid for attention

Oh, who am I kidding. This is 2012 and this is the Internet. It’s all about the attention, baby

Today’s my birthday, and in a Facebook World that means everyone you’ve ever gazed for some unspecified minimum of time — both in actual real life and cyberspace — qualifies for Friend Status and thus wishes you Happy Birthday.

This gives you the totally misguided notion that all these people actually remember your birthday, have it marked on their Cute Kitties wall calendar, and count down the days mentally til the day they can joyously wish you feliz cumpleaños, joyeux anniversaire, or 생일.

This year is not a Significant birthday, except in  my own little mind. For it is, dear readers, the last year I can claim a “4” in the tens place, the last year before what I’ve fondly decided to call the F Word enters my life, and the last year before I am required to submit to the regular maintenance indignity perpetrated upon the American public known as the colonoscopy.

Ah, that’s a fun thing to read with your morning coffee, no?

And seriously, I do not mind growing old, for I have my own personal old fart to grow old with. He’s a decade my senior, and like most Baby Boomers, has experienced every nuance of aging long before I ever got there, and so by this time, the whole thing is old hat. Gray hair? Yes, he’s got that in abundance, and he cheerfully reminds me how ever so much grayer it is since the day he married me. Some gray hairs have crept into my coif too, but I like to think of them as cheap highlighter, and pretend that I look this way on purpose.

Today I plan to do what I do best, which is crack jokes and preside as editor of a publication. I’ve been informed there will be an departmental Birthday Lunch and I have indicated I will attend. I am wearing with wild excitement the birthday gift Mr. Gray Hair presented me with this morning, a deliciously blingie  snake rope necklace, and, as always I am clad in cowboy boots.

My children are healthy, I’ve got a roof over my head, and there are doughnuts in the world. Happy birthday to me!

Weed this and reap

This summer has been an unmitigated disaster, yard-wise. In fact, I’m pretty sure my neighborhood association is on a vicious crusade to make me feel really, really bad about myself, what with all the talk in the newsletter of “grass needs to be no more than 8 inches high” this and “don’t obscure your front windows with wild untrimmed hedges” that.

Please.

It’s not my fault the weather this year has caused an explosion of plants and weeds of nuclear, if not Biblical, proportions. Thistles as thick as my arm. Queen Anne’s Lace that I could actually use to make an epic wedding dress, including veil. Morning glories adrift in the middle of the front lawn, if you can believe that.

Hot damnI lay the blame on the super-hot temperatures we had in late June and early July. It was, honest-to-God, 105 degrees in the Fahrenheit one Saturday afternoon, and that pretty much killed any grass-like foliage I had growing both in front of and behind my house. Thus ensued Bare Spots, in which the dormant weeds, awakened by the monsoons rains which followed the HtG 105-degree weather, flourished.

My yard, ya see, until about 2003, lay in the middle of a large pasture, undeveloped and uninhabited — unless you count the gophers. They’re still here, by the way. Groundhog Central. Anyway, this pasture land, ungrazed by any animal and untended by any farmer, fostered the growth of the aforementioned thistles and Queen Anne’s Lace undisturbed for centuries. I mean, Indians trod on my wild thistleland. Cave men tripped on my morning glory’s forebears. So when the grass gave up the ghost, the dormant seeds, undeterred by a couple years’ worth of sod laid atop it, sprang forth and stormed across my lawn like conquering warlords.

Matters were made worse by the absence of my yard boy for part of the summer, who also is known in some circles as my son Christopher. He was away quite a bit, and when he returned he had to go to band camp … eyeroll … sheesh, kids these days. So despite the fact that the drought made mowing unnecessary for most of the summer, when he returned — and then vanished as a mowing entity — the weed warlords saw their opportunity and set themselves upon world domination. Er, make that the domination of my yard. This whole matter had made me think quite apocalyptically. (Is too a word.)

But he did return, and he did mow, so the pampas grassland that formerly was my back yard now has settled back into its normal state of resembling the shorn head of of marine recruit. (See photo below; scrutiny of airborne progeny and boyfriend of eldest optional.)

Up up and away!

Another interesting phenomenon is the planter on my front porch, planted with some sad petunias, some subdued greenery, and one whoppin’ big example of a forage plant.

This big thing here, which sprouted and took off during the monsoon portion of the summer’s proceedings, I believe to be an example of the millet plant. Its arrival isn’t too much of a mystery; last summer this particular flower pot sweated it out in the brutal conditions on my back deck, near the bird feeder. The untidy birds, as birds are wont to do, scattered about as much seed around the deck as they ate, some of which accumulated in the planters. Last spring I just dumped in a little fresh potting soil along with the new plants and went about my business. If some of last year’s birdseed sprouted, I just plucked it as I always do. But this whopper escaped me, and it charged out of the planter with astonishing energy, resulting in the vigorous crop of one plant you see before you today.

I find it amusing, as a peculiar addition to the wild crop of everything I’ve got growing in my yard this year. Oh I could be weeding and tidying every waking moment that I’m not working or feeding my hungry huddled masses, but something tells me it wouldn’t make a vast amount of difference. So I embrace my embarrassing yard, and the neighborhood association can just get over itself. If the apocalypse truly does come, I’ll be able to feed my family! I’ve got a crop of millet!

I wonder if morning glories are any good on toast.

These boots were made for barfin’

You don’t have to tell me about it. I know.

I freely admit that I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at shoes on the several zillion Internet pages devoted to footwear.

I write frequently about the absorbing topic of shoes. I wear shoes — every single day — and notice, every single day, the shoes upon the feet of everyone I know and nearly everyone I encounter.

And since I like shoes so damned much, I rarely find a shoe that I absolutely abhor. Oh, I have tried to be a H8ER but somehow I’ve managed to round out my shoe wardrobe with Crocs and clogs alike … and so that you know I do have taste, let me state that they in no way make up the bulk of that wardrobe.

So anyway, it was with great surprise that a couple days ago I ran across a boot that was so hideous, so repellent, so transformationally butt-ugly that I not only gasped in horror when I saw them, I (and I do not say this lightly) I actually had a nightmare about them.

Run. Run for your lifeIt is true. Just look at these things, would you? They are the Vivienne Westwood Regent Boot and they retail for a whopping $725. Now, despite my professed love for shoes, I am truly not a haute couture shoe maven extraordinaire. No, those fashionistas who really know their stuff would no doubt laugh at my provincialism when it comes to high-end footwear. Oh, I would generally know a Christian Louboutin when I saw one, and for a while I got a weekly email from Ferragamo just so I could sigh over beauty that would never be mine. But honestly, I know very little about Vivienne Westwood, and a little Googling shows me that most of her stuff is a tad funky and even appealing, speaking as someone who strives for a look beyond the boring normal.

There’s nothing normal about the Regent Boot.

I can’t find a photo online of someone actually wearing this thing, but I have to believe the Caucasian-buff leg tone would make any wearer’s own gams look like East Germany female weightlifters’. I shudder to think what … what … toe would be conjured up by a startled onlooker to a gal garbed in the Regent. It is also amusing to think of what an African American lady might look like clad in these numbers. (Not that any black woman with taste would be caught dead in these boots — even with an appropriately shaded suede calf.)

The 4-inch heel, while interesting apart from its configuration as some sort of frightening faux-mule, just makes my blood run cold. Who wants the appearance of their very own heel to resemble that of a young orangutan fresh from the jungle?

So while most of my nightmares are much more run-of-the-mill — you know, a zombie here, a haunted house there — this boot was able to transcend such normal nightmare fodder and give me an actual footwear night terror. Which is really saying something given, as I say, how much I think about shoes.

I’m probably going to have to go back to that weekly Ferragamo newsletter to get over it.