Wednesday, December 3, 2008


It's Wednesday, which means that Odel is on the golf course with the proton beam guys, and I have the morning to myself. After meeting Luna's many and varied morning needs, I got right down to the business of the day: put together a Special Outfit.

Can you believe it is December, and that Christmas is just around the corner?? All the PBT patients and spouses who will be here on Christmas are invited to the home of one of the doctors for Christmas dinner.

Let's see now, where did I put my party clothes? Oh, that's right, they went in the Goodwill bag during the "third year on the road" closet cleaning.

I have an extensive wardrobe of clothing suitable for hiking, camping in the desert, grocery shopping, eating delicious greasy grilled chicken over a plate balanced on my lap, flea-combing the cat, checking tire pressures... and some recent purchases for working out at the gym. I'm light on "Christmas Dinner at the Doctor's House". I've been mulling over a purchase or two, but decided first to see what I could pull together from recent acquisitions and the very few more elegant articles left from my pre-retirement days - an expenditure of creativity rather than of cash.

Any woman reading this - most especially those of you who live in 300 sq feet - know that the absence of your spouse is critical to Creating An Outfit. Nothing will wither your creative impulses more quickly than innocent, casual questions ("What are you doing with all that stuff?"), unsolicited advice ("Are you going to wear that?"), eye-rolling, or wondering aloud how much longer you are going to have your "stuff" spread around the bedroom and bathroom. Not to say Odel would do any of these things, but even the thought of it...!

First, I dug through the medicine cabinet to inventory all my available cosmetic resources. Since I've retired, my makeup routine - never very extensive - has shrunk to the two most critical aspects: comb my hair (which I occasionally forget) and apply chapstick. However, reading mainstream magazines - filled with makeup tips, hairstyles, and current fashions - in the LLUMC patient lounge while I wait for Odel has reminded me that the average urban woman probably budgets for more than three new chapsticks, two new toothbrushes and a new washcloth each year.

Consequently, in preparation for our Big Night, I made a few cosmetic purchases when Odel and I shopped Target yesterday: a moisturizer, a "bronzer", and an "eye-brightening duo". When Odel looked at our receipt and said "Wow, what did we buy that cost so much??", I renewed my Note to Self: if you can't be with girlfriends, purchasing and experimenting with makeup and clothing is best done in solitude.

I augmented my new products with hair goop I got for my birthday from Sydney, whose hairdo I admire; a fistful of makeup brushes, always fun; an old mascara, remarkably liquid given it's probable age; and Burt's Bees lipgloss in my favorite color, Nutmeg - no doubt discontinued by now. After I washed and moisturized my face, I worked on one eye at a time - a scientific method designed to determine whether the "eye brightening duo", the eyebrow powder (when did the outer half of my eyebrows fall out?) and the mascara were actually improvements. Well... yes, they were, even in my inexperienced hands. I finished putting on my party face and went to the closet.

My potential party clothes were easily inventoried. Over an ankle length, jet black tube skirt (pre-retirement), I could wear: the red long-sleeved top from our trip to the outlet stores; a slinky, pre-retirement lizard print sleeveless top; or a boat-neck, blue, 3/4 sleeve top. For the "dress-up" aspect, I had layers (color me fashion-savvy): a lushly embroidered blue wrap given to me as a gift by Kim; a heavily embroidered vest; or a new red wrap given to me by Becky for my birthday a few weeks ago.

A year ago, channel surfing late one night, I came across Oprah's show on the importance of the right bra (really, I kid you not - it was a real show and I WATCHED IT!) and became convinced that I should switch from my usual camisoles (purchased in bulk at Costco) to a well-fitted bra. My sister Nancy and I headed to the mall for an Oprah-inspired bra fitting, and I came home with two. I wore one twice, the other once. For the past year, they have traveled in the back corner of the camisole drawer. It appears that our visit to Loma Linda is their shining hour, as I dug out the plain beige one for my gym workouts and auditioned the deep brown one for the Christmas party.

Thus prepared with my face made up, my hair styled, and my boobs lifted to a more youthful level, I got started. First, the skirt. It's stretchy, it fits and - the main reason I love and it have kept it all these years - it is ankle length, so no need to shave my legs (another of those work-related cosmetic items that has fallen by the wayside) or wear tights or pantyhose (shudder). Lookin' good.

Dress rehearsal came to a screetching halt when I slipped the slinky lizard print sleeveless top over my head. Still fits, and I love the print - but the parts of my upper arms that swing freely of their own accord are better left covered around all but the most intimate of friends and family. Unless my current workout program works much more quickly than seems possible, this is a dangerous holiday option.

The remaining, upper-arm friendly tops and potential accessories cycled through their numerous permutations over the next half hour, accessorized and scrutinized with jewelry and handbags, tweaked detail by detail. And, guess what? No need to hit the stores.

I settled on the reds - more Christmas-y than blue. I have new black flats I got on sale in Palm Desert when my girlfriends visited. I'll wear my silver Peace earrings from Bisbee (big danglies etched over and over with the words Peace and Love), my $5 beaded barcelet from San Antonio, the necklace Becky never wore so she gave it to me, and the woven handbag Becky gave me (along with the wrap) for my birthday (gosh, Becky, I couldn't have done it without your excellent taste!).

I wonder what Odel is wearing? :)


  1. Oh, Laurie -- you are PRICELESS!!! What Sydney puts on canvas, you put in print!!!! You just made our day! We HOWLED!!!! (and better than that -- we can IDENTIFY-- been there, done that, and occasionally still have to DO it!) A.C. says it doesn't get easier with age, since "the frame" goes in ALL dirctions!!! We love you!!!!

  2. How hilarious, and I could relate to all of it, but especially the basic cosmetic routine - comb hair when you remember to, and apply chapstick......which is IMPOSSIBLE to forget.

    One good thing about painting is that you rarely have to go outside and be seen by others....sometimes when it is time to get the mail, I think, I can't even walk to the end of the driveway looking like this!

    Frank says this blog should be in the Funny Times.


  3. Oh God Laurie you should write a column for a newspaper. I haven't laughed this hard in ages, still wiping the laugh tears from my face. You are priceless. I so related!!!! You'll look stunning!

  4. Oh, Laurie, I laughed till I "leaked". Oh how we can relate. As I laughed Jim asked what was so funny. I told him it was a chick thing and he wouldn't understand. You are definitely columnist material. What a riot you are-I read you every day and wouldn't miss it for the world. Miss you both.

  5. Laurie,
    I can so totally identify with you (except the makeup, I've always liked makeup!)But clothes....just give me sweat pants! What amazes me so, is that you are doing all this ahead of time. I would be doing this the afternoon of the dinner! that my middle name?

  6. This was a great post! I totally relate on the upper arm thing. Before I saw your choices I was thinking "something black that can be worn again, a red/multi scarf and great jewelry." And that's what you have. It's a beautiful outfit.
    Have fun!

  7. Such a great blog entry. You have a way with words and I agree that this post would work great in a column. Make sure you take pictures of you and Odel in whatever HE chooses to wear :)

    Connie and Art

  8. What a riot, I love your creative humor! The end result was definitely a winner, and you can be sure no one else will show up in an identical outfit.

    Thanks for sharing your sense of humor with the rest of us, who can more than relate to your descriptive experience.

  9. Laurie,
    What a great way to start my day with laughter from reading your blog.... You are the next Irma Bombeck!! Do you remember her.... Whatever you wear you will be stunning not to mention the life of any party.

  10. Had to add my comment to this melodious and hilarious post. I found myself shaking my head in agreement as I giggled the whole way through. And we have to see a photo when you get all ready for the party. I'm sure you'll look fabulous! Nancy Hurley