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Sunday, August 10, 2014


After ten years, I have come to expect the day when the temperature gauge reads, 100, and can now take it in my stride.  However, being beautifully described as the 'English Rose', by my American doctor, I am ever conscious of the harm the sun can do to such a fragile flower. 

My head wear has become a part of my everyday attire.  In the winter I wear my, now famous, Stetson, and in the summer I resort to the off-white, boater-type, straw variety.  I live up to the (not so enchanting) name that has been bestowed upon me, by my native acquaintances, to wit, 'The lady with the hat'! 

The off-white, straw, boater-type hat was upon my head this week, atop a variety of dresses and accessories.  I had taken a couple of pairs of shoes into be repaired, and was left with a dilemma as to which pair should enhance the plain, but classic, dress of choice for each day.  I very rarely throw away a pair of shoes.  I still have several pairs which were purchased from an 'outlet' store in England, when my children were small, and saved for 'best'!  However, living in Texas, I do not have much occasion to wear shoes for 'best', and tend to wear boots in the winter, and my (don't really) 'tone-up' flip-flops in the summer.  Going through my wardrobe, I came across many pairs of shoes that would be ideal for work, many of which would be far too high, (let alone glamorous) for me to wear with my weekend shopping attire. 

As the temperature soared, I left the jacket in the office, and went to the post office.  Samantha had an errand to run a few blocks from the facility, and dropped me off in the parking area.  No one was in line, and I approached the young man behind the counter with a variety of letters.  He gave each one an 'official' stamp and my mission was completed in a very short space of time.  I called my daughter to see how long she would be, and she advised me that her errand was completed and she was on her way back, but perhaps I would like to meet her at the convenience store.  I ventured out into the heat.  Just to set the scene, I was wearing a light grey, very classic, straight dress, ivory shoes, and of course, the off-white, straw boater-type hat.  I walked across the parking area to the pavement, and stood by the traffic lights, waiting for them to change.  Eventually, after several variations of 'whose turn is next', the red hand changed to a white walking stick man, and I knew it was the turn of the weary, hot pedestrian.  As I hobbled across the intersection, a car came alongside me.  I saw the window go down slowly, and a female voice shouted from within.  Before my audiable memory hit my brain, I panicked.  Unsure for a second as to what was being screamed across from the vehicle, and immediately, yet incorrectly, assuming it was a warning, turned around sharply, causing the loose items from the unzipped partition of my bag to fly into the air, and drop all over the road.  As the words, 'very pretty', filtered through the vortex of my mind, I failed to thank the lady for the compliment, but instead muttered some rather unsavoury remarks about her sense of timing!  Fortunately, the small items that had found the need to leave their temporary home, had chosen to land in close proximity to each other, and I was able to retrieve them fairly quickly, leaving just enough time to run in the unsuitable shoes that I had chosen to adorn the outfit.  No matter how hard I try, I always manage to lose the air of sophistication!

Our weekend plans had been mapped out meticulously.  I was going to complete as much housework as was possible before ten on Saturday morning, so that we could take advantage of the 'tax-free' weekend, at the outlet mall, and still have enough time to squander by the pool.  I rose early, and was very focused on my tasks, leaving no stone unturned, surface undusted, floor unwashed, or carpet unvaccuumed.  By the time Samantha and quadruped arrived, I had all but finished. 

The saving on items that are included in the 'tax-free' weekend range, is 8.25%.  Therefore, for every dollar we spend, we are saving 8.25 cents.  Although every little helps, I was a bit sceptical about the actual amount I was saving.  The outlet mall always offers additional discounts at various times of the year, and this weekend was no exception.   However, it occurred to me that while certain shop were giving an addition 30% off all items, at other times of the year, they give 40%.   It did not take long to calculate that it would be cheaper to buy next week, with the tax included, than it would this weekend, without tax.  With coupons, discounts and other incentives, it was all very inviting, but the coupons did not apply with the discounts, and the discounts did not apply to other incentives. 

However, I digress. As I had planned to visit my favourite dress shop, I was cautious not to spoil the illusion that had been created, and did not wear a pair of shorts, which have been my usual weekend attire.  Instead, I found a calf-length summer skirt, and white top.  My accessories were a pink pair of (don't really) tone-up flip flops and the off-white, straw, boater-type hat.  The ladies at the dress shop seemed very happy to see me, but did not hide their disappointment that I was alone, or more to the point not accompanied by my husband.  Although animated with most of their customers, they appear to be absolutely twitterpated when Dana walks into the store.  As I browsed, I caught sight of myself in one of the mirrors.  Rather than the sophisticated vision that I managed to pull off during the week, the off-white, straw, boater-type hat, caused me to look rather homely.  I would not have looked out of place with a trowel in hand, and a pair of gardening gloves!  The fantasy that I was the traditional 'English Rose' had been blown to smithereens.  I looked more like a wilting dandylion!  As I entered the changing rooms, I laughed at myself for thinking that the ladies would even notice the difference in my attire.  Why would they even consider that I had (for want of a better phrase) 'let myself go'. 

With several 'tax-free' items in hand, I walked to the desk, still inwardly embarrassed at my foolish pride. I was soon to realise that not all my thoughts were so far off from the truth.  'So, where is your husband today.  Is he at work? Do you not shop together, anymore?', I was asked in a rather suggestive manner.  'Perhaps he could just come in and say 'hi' one day.  Just so we know he is still around', was the next suggestion.  I was not sure if it was purely the casual look, or the fact that the off-white, straw, boater-type hat made the outfit look like I had been left to go to seed, (and not a rosehip!)  I assured them that I would pass on their good wishes, which they had added at the end of the investigation, and left the shop for pastures new. 

Whilst my current circumstances were being determined, Samantha had been saving her own tax, and was attempting to purchase a pair of trainers for Richard.  The dandylion continued to wilt as she waited in the shade for Samantha to appear.  My messages to her phone were being delayed, as she was giving her brother an electronic tour of the shop.  When he eventually chose a pair, she purchased them and was able to meet me, off-white, straw, boater-type hat, packages and all, at the place where we had originally started our quest.  We walked to the car, watched the vultures surround the parking space, and let them fight for the spot that we vacated!  Our next stop was the supermarket, in the adjoining county to ours, where plastic bags are not outlawed!!

Our afternoon was not taxing at all!  We sat by the pool, where I wore my trusty cap, rather than the off-white, straw, boater-type hat, which while obviously very versatile, would not suit the water!  I relayed my version of the days events later in the day, and Dana did not think that there was anything suggestive about the comments made by his fan-base.  The women present in the house assured him that he needed to access his feminine side, to in order to translate appropriately.

The off-white, straw, boater-type hat was worn with pride, as well as a summer dress on Sunday morning.  Not so much of a sophisticated look, but then again, no one would assume that I would be heading to prune the roses, English or otherwise!  It could have passed for 'pretty', but who am I to give myself compliments!  I have the gruesome task of de-clothing my wardrobe at sometime. (I do not discard clothes, either.  Like old soldiers, my clothes simply, 'fade away'.)  However, there will be enough winter weekends to take care of that particular task.  Once the off-white, straw, boater-type hat retires into hibernation, and the darker felt stetson takes its place, I shall consider my wardrobe makeover.  Until then, I shall continue to go up and down on the scale of sophistication, and continue to be the enigma, which will always be ......... another story!

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