30 May 2013

The Muse: Wimbledon

Its not even June yet, but wit the French Open on television I am itching for The Championships to start. I love tennis, always have. Before she met my father my mother dated a semi-pro tennis player that got her into the sport and long after the relationship ended she's still a big fan, so I grew up watching the game. Then in high school my best friend was also a big tennis fan and every summer we would go to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport for their tournament (the only tournament played on grass courts in America). In college one of my roommates even came all the way from Texas to Rhode Island to play tennis for URI's team. Needless to say if the tennis is on TV I'll be watching it.

That being said, Wimbledon is still my favorite event to watch. Of the four Grand Slams of tennis; the Australian Open, the French Open, the Championships (Wimbledon) and the U.S. Open it is the only tournament played on grass. The Australian and U.S. Open are both played on hardcourt (Plexicushion and DecoTurf respectively) and the French Open is played on clay. May consider grass the most difficult surface to master because of the difference in the bounce and spin that the balls have and the resistance between the players shoes and the surface. I know that most players seem to have a much stronger emotional reaction to winning at Wimbledon than at other majors, when Novak Djokivic won the Men's Singles in 2011 he talked about how while he dreamed of being a pro-tennis player, his real dream was to win on Centre Court at Wimbledon. If there is a Grand-Pappy of Grand Slams it is Wimbledon without a doubt. This makes sense because it is by far the oldest (followed by the U.S. (1881), French (1891), and Australian (1905), having been played at the All England Club since 1877, only breaking for ten years, four during WWI and six during WWII. Also it is steeped in tradition, much more so than any of the other tournaments. Here are just a few of the things I love about Wimbledon:

1.) By Royal Edict You Must Wear White. Okay by now its more of a tradition, but originally if you wanted to play you had to give up your colors in favor of tennis' traditional togs. There can be some color on your outfit, but not much, and brand name logos are a major no-no. Also if there is color it should be muted, preferably pastel rather than harsh dark bands of color. Color is laos mostly worn on top and in front. Your shorts or skirt, sock, shoes, and back must be predominantly white. This uniform is also adopted by spectators, both out of tradition and for practical purposes, only recently did Wimbledon install a retractable roof to cut down on rain delays. When its sunny white keeps the spectators cool. Below are the all white looks the Duchess of Cambridge has sported at Wimbledon in years past.

2.) Even the refreshments are refined. In America we eat hot dogs and beer at ball games. Not at the All England Club,  the refreshment of choice at Wimbledon is traditionally strawberries covered with a coating of fresh cream. On television you can see the dozens of bright red strawberry carts lined up to serve the crowds. Fresh produce wins in the class department hands down.

3.) Ettiquite reigns. At Wimbledon there is no sexual revolution or political correctness. They go by a whole different set of rules, the Victorians. When Chris Evert played she was not listed anywhere as Chris Evert, she was listed as Mrs. J.M. Lloyd, her married name. Likewise unmarried girls are always Miss, not the much more politically correct Ms. While these rules have loosened up a bit over the years, tradition still holds sway on the courts of Wimbledon. As there is a royal box and royals are almost always in attendance (HRH Edward, Duke of Kent is the president of the All England Club and presents the trophies to the winners on behalf of his cousin the queen) bows and curtsies are required of all players, however only if the Queen or her son the Prince of Wales is in attendance. Charles and Camilla, her in particular show up on occasion for the finals and William and Kate have become fixtures as well.

While I wasn't all in white I didn't push it too badly, I went with nice safe creams and mixed in green for the grass court, and all day I longed for a tennis racquet. Game, set, match.

Sweater: vintage, St. John, thrifted via The Bargain Box
Tank: Old Navy (really old)
Skirt: French Connection UK, thrifted via Second Time Around
Purse: vintage, Lewis, one of my great-aunt Connie's
Necklace: Lenora Dame via Anthropologie
Ring: vintage, my grandfather's 1949 class ring
Shoes: Nine West, thrifted via Goodwill

Linking up with Agi of Vodka Infused Lemonade


29 May 2013

The Muse: Poppies of Flanders Field

 Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, I am extremely jealous looking at so many fellow bloggers who celebrated with cookouts and beachside retreats, alas in New England we celebrated the start of summer with intermittent rain and near freezing temperatures. I was shivering by the time I finished taking photos and you can see from my pictures that the wind was nearly gale force. At one point I had to stop and chase my coat from blowing into the street. Life is an adventure. For Memorial Day I took my inspiration from the origins of the holiday, Decoration Day. There's a great deal of dispute about how it all really started, but somewhere (probably in the South) it was a day dedicated to decorating the the graves of the fallen of the Civil War. The tradition quickly spread North and it was officially recognized by President Johnson in 1966 as having started in Waterloo, New York. Its clear however that the trend was widespread starting even while the war was still going on. The shear numbers killed (about 600,000 Americans on both sides) far surpassed any previous war (not surprising) and decorating the graves of the fallen was a uniting act. Over time Memorial Day (as it evolved into) came to honor all men and women who died in battle serving their country. It is separate and distinct from Veteran's Day which celebrates military service rather than those killed in action. When it comes to decorations from Memorial Day the American flag is an obvious choice, however another symbol has become almost as ubiquitous: the red poppy.

 Blouse: AK Anne Klein, thrifted via Chic2Chic
Pants: Worthington via J.C. Penny
Shoes: Merona, thrifted via Twice the Diva
Purse: vintage, Whiting and Davis, thrifted via Pastimes Consignments
Headband: Forever 21
Sunglasses: J. Marcel
Coat: Kardashian Collection, gift

 So where did the tradion of the poppy as a symbol of those who died in service to thier country come from? If you've never heard the story its a fascinating one. It all starts with a man named Liutienant Colonel John McCrae a Canadian soldier who was inspired to write it after the funeral of one of his friends killed at the battle of Ypres. Written on May 3, 1915 it is undoubtedly the story of the First World War, however it has grown to be a story for all wars. The devistation to the landscape and radical chemical changes to the soil (from decomposing remains, human waste, trenches, poisionous gases) left very little nutritive value for things to grow. In the years directly after the war however the common field poppy flourished regardles of the hardships the land scape had faced. McCrae was inspired by thses signs of new lifei n this, his best known poem which was published in the BRitish magazine Punch on December 8, 1915. If you have never read it this is McCrae's poem:

In Flander's Field the poppies blow, Between the crosses, 
row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, 
and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

But the story doesn't end there. McCrae's poem was a wide-spread hit, becoming a cornerstone of the war effort over the next three years and a common elegy for the fallen. But it took a lucky occurrence at the YMCA in New York to bring the poppy to immortality. Moina Michaels a volunteer there came across the latest issue of the Ladies Home Journal in the busy common room there. She read McCrae's poem (alternately titled "We Shall Not Sleep") which was published in memory of him, as McCrae himself had died of pneumonia several months earlier. The day Moina Michaels read the poem was November 9, 1918, two days before Armistice Day and the end of the war (what we know know as Veteran's Day). Michaels made a vow not to forget and never give up the fight to honor the sacrifice of the fallen. She personally began to wear a red silk poppy and it became a common symbol around the YMCA. She began selling them and got a local department store involved. It was a long fight but eventually she got the idea out to enough people and in 1920 the American Legion adopted the poppy as their official symbol of remembrance. It spread worldwide and the poppy is used today in all of the major allied countries from WWI: England, France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and of course the United States. So to do my part to remember I pulled out my poppy patterned pants and took a page out of Moina's book, to take up the torch, and not break faith remembering the sacrifices of others.


24 May 2013

The Muse: Floridian

 I had incredibly good luck with pictures again today, as you can see there are puddles everywhere from the storm during the day and about a half an hour after the photos were taken it started to pour again, and is still pouring now as I write this. But for a brief shining moment there was sunshine and I said "Let there be pictures". Are you glad its the weekend? I sure am, today was probably the worst day of the year for any high school teacher: the senior's last day. Anarchy is the only word to describe it. A tsunami of teenagers. There is no defeating it you just have to hold on for dear life and wait for it to be over. Graduation will be all about bittersweet memories and tearful goodbye's, the senior's last day is about trying your hardest not to strangle anyone. I was feeling very Floridian with this color combination today.  The one and only time I went to Disney, twenty-something years ago (I am not a fan of the House of the Mouse) we stayed at either The Swan or The Dolphin, I don't remember which but I remember the colors were pale peachy-pink and teal. Even my grandparent's condo in Naples always seems to pick up that color scheme. Its like a committee met before they opened up Florida for business and decided on an appropriate tropical color scheme. With 100 % humidity, I felt right at home, its also fun to mix up the regular color scheme of the skirt with unexpected accessories.

 Dress: I Heart Ronson via J.C. Penny
Tank: Forever 21 (really old)
Sweater: Ann Taylor Loft, thrifted via Savers
Brooch: vintage 1960's, via RI Antiques Mall
Purse: DSW
Bracelet: vintage, ??? so old I can't remember
Shoes: Ann Marino via DSW

Also linking up again with Delusions of Grandeur and the Penniless Socialite

23 May 2013

The Muse: Coming up Roses

 I had misplaced this blouse for almost a year, by accidentally hanging it on the same hanger as a jacket. I was seriously puzzled as to where it had gone, then when I was shifting summer and winter clothes last weekend it turned up to great celebration on my part. I also was in and out of the optometrist's office in just a half an hour, literally an experience rarer than gold. This meant that I had time to go to the half off sale at The Bargain Box in Southborough. Its a great little thrift shop run in the spring and fall by St. Mark's Episcopal Church, and I've featured many of my finds there on this blog. Its also the only place my boss shops. Because of the Flapper 104 workshop last Sunday I missed the first 50% off day, so I was very glad I finished  early and go to go today. Despite an ugly brewing storm I was also able to get a few photos on Southborough's beautiful town green. Its an almost picture perfect little town, quintessential New England and centered around St. Mark's and the Fay School. A delightful place to spend a Thursday afternoon, certainly better than reading six-month old magazines at the eye doctor's. Everything really is coming up roses today.

Blouse: One Star via Target
Skirt: Edward, hand-me-down from my sister-in-law L'Oreal
Purse: via DSW
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik via Wheeler School Clothing Sale
Sunglasses: Dollar Tree, self-embellished