Miss Lavender

CA

So a few weeks ago, I piled Miss Lavender into the car, along with her considerable cache of Crucial-for-college Stuff, and off we went. To college. Miss Lavender, that is. I was merely the ride. Well, not “merely.” I mean more to her than that. (A smiley face emoticon would fit nicely here.)

A few things I miss about my big girl, who used to be a little girl, like, about ten minutes ago. No, really: it happens that fast. One minute, you’re a New Mom, a blue-eyed baby dollie in your arms; and the next, you’re making that one last mondo Costco run, so that your dollie won’t starve during her march toward mid-terms.

To what I miss, then. Definitely the very distinct furrow of concentration on her face when she’d be deep in conversation with me. She’s a good listener, that one. And her delectable smile. And her equally delectable laugh–good and loud, with her head thrown back sometimes. I miss her stylishness: Miss Lavender is a walking lookbook. I miss haunting whatever vintage spot we might have decided to call our new favorite. (At the moment, that would be Decades, in Salt Lake City.) And I always deeply appreciated her take on the world and its happenings. Nothing gets past her. Ah, and I miss her hands, their long, elegant fingers, and their expressiveness. And of course . . . of COURSE her dry sense of humor.

CA

I miss my spirited Petal.

But I’d sell the shirt off my back for her to be able to do what she’s doing. There might not be anything more essential to a young woman’s sense of self-identity than a university education.

So go take the world by storm, Miss Lavender.  You’ve earned the right to.

CA

Un fuerte saludo de tu madre . . . y los dos besitos muy necesarios, claro.

(Soon:  Miss Zinnia blossoms.  And what that has to do with Shakespeare’s Ophelia.)

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Millay in vintage_7956

The petals and I love all things vintage. If you happen to be in Los Angeles, then the only vintage place that counts is Shareen Vintage, a store-slash-warehouse so unimaginably fabulous it needed its own Eleven O’Clock post.

We discovered Shareen’s place a couple of years ago when we ran into a young woman wearing a vintage dress so truly (say it with me . . .) fabulous, we had to stop her so we could tell her what we thought of it. It was this little brocaded number, very fifties, a buttery yellow.  As we were dying over it, she thanked us for our compliments, then told us we had to check out Shareen’s.  “It’s girls-only,” she clarified.  “No men allowed!”

I love Shareen’s for more than just the amazing vintage finds, though.  You see, Shareen herself is Someone Special.  Here’s the story.  Miss Lavender and I made the trek into L.A. one day with the express purpose of talking with Shareen, who, once we had her attention, was so fully present, so in the moment with us, you would have thought we were the oldest of friends.  To my surprise, she looked right at Miss L, took her by the shoulders, and pushed them back.  Gently but firmly, she said to my five-foot-ten inch daughter, now standing straight and tall, “Don’t . . . ever . . . slouch.”  As Miss Lavender processed this injunction given from the Vintage Maven of Los Angeles (and New York, for that matter), Shareen continued.  “Your shoulder blades–they’re your wings,” she explained, “and you want them to touch.”  Then she illustrated, showing us the way Miss Lavender, with her shoulders back, could have been touching her imaginary wings together.

I loved the metaphor:  shoulder blades as wings, always meant to be touching.  But I loved other things, too–the way Miss Lavender had instantly become not just a customer but the Pupil Of The Moment.  And the way drawing herself up to her full height seemed to give her a vision of herself as someone strong, elegant, empowered.  Do you know what that kind of carefully given–and poetic!–advice is worth to a mother anxious to give her daughter reasons to believe she can all but fly if she chooses?

When they fell deep into conversation about vintage, another side of Shareen’s character revealed itself.  As she talked about her passion for helping every woman find exactly the right dress, no matter her age or body type, she recounted how a woman who had decided to throw herself a quinceañera party for her fiftieth birthday had left the store just a few days earlier–before Shareen could properly attend to her.  “She left discouraged,” Shareen remembered as she explained that this woman had decided there was no point in trying to find a party dress that would flatter her.  “We could have found the right dress,” Shareen said with conviction, “but the store was busy that day, and I didn’t get to her in time.”

In the year and a half or so since our visit with the proprietress of L.A.’s most beloved vintage store, I’ve thought about how much she gave my petal:  a charge to stand up straight, always, and–equally important–an expressed belief that every woman deserves to feel beautiful when she decides she wants to dress up.  That’s part of what makes clothing exciting, after all:  the opportunity to play a part, and to make a statement about who you understand yourself to be.  With vintage, every piece already has a history that the new wearer often consciously deploys as part of an effort to communicate her sense of identity.  When Miss Zinnia dressed up for her “Gatsby” shoot on our terrace in Barcelona one afternoon several months ago, she saw herself as a character right out of a book or a film.  Her dress:  Shareen’s, of course.

Millay in Shareen vintage_7938

After our afternoon with Shareen, I wrote her, to thank her for her words of wisdom.  And she wrote back, telling me she’d wondered about me, about who I was.  “And here you are,” she said in her reply, thanking me for acknowledging the gift she’d given a clothes-loving teenage girl.  That’s what makes Shareen a force not just in the vintage realm but also–and probably more important–in the realm of Girl Power.  At Shareen’s place, every woman learns quickly that she deserves to stand up straight and to feel at ease in her own skin.

(Photo:  a Gatsby-esque Miss Zinnia, in BCN.)

 

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Tessa and Millay dancing two_2391

Would you like to dance?

Why, that would be grand!

Shall we, then?

Tessa and Millay dancing three_2397

Leaping_2440

Tess and Millie on the beach_2432

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Standing together by arch_1099

Once upon a time I wrote a little note to Danny and Mara of A Blog About Love, thanking them for talking about love, its forms, its reach. I also wrote a blog entry about how one of their posts had affected Miss Lavender, prompting her to want to practice love the way you practice doing anything you want to get good at:  through repetition.

Teva Tessa agan with sun in arm_1072

One of Miss Lavender’s goals was to strengthen her relationship with her younger sister–Miss Zinnia, exactly three years her junior.

Teva Millay by arch looking away_1122

Different in so many ways, the petals occasionally reach an impasse, and then they have to find a way to move forward. But especially when they’re out together like they were here, in Teba, Spain, they often end up being each other’s best company.  So cool, that traveling together ended up being their mortar.

Teva girls in field_0959

Teva girls running through field_0958

Remember the old tradition of the Sunday drive?–where the family hops in the car and heads out to see what the afternoon looks like an hour down the road? Well, we’ve been doing that off and on for months–and not just on Sundays, obviously. I’ve got to say: sometimes the middle of nowhere turns into a Big Somewhere when transfigured by a pair of sisters at ease with each other and with themselves.

Teva Tessa kissing Millay_1137

Once again, thanks Danny and Mara. All these months later, the seeds of your Words Of Love are still yielding fruit.

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In Praise Of Gelato. And What It Does.

by Becky on May 18, 2013

in Food, Travel

Being inveterate foodies, we have our little haunts.  The petals and I love a little place on the edge of Born.  On another occasion, I’ll show it to you.  For now, I’ll give you a peek at what really good gelato does to a couple of girls I know.

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

Ice Cream Date

It’s all settled, then: gelato turns you into a supremely happy goofball, right alongside the other goofball who shares your birthday, your clothes, your hair nonsense, your Burt’s Bees, your love of the European ephemera you dream of repurposing for a DIY, etcetera, etcetera.

Provecho!

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Yellow

Driving from Point A to Point B in France reminds you that sometimes the drive is the Whole Point. That is, the journey itself takes center stage, just that fast.

Yellow

Miss Lavender and Miss Zinnia felt similarly. When that Quintessentially French Yellow called, they felt bound to answer.

Yellow

(As would anyone with a fondness for flowers.)

Yellow

In fact, it occurs to me that Fondness For Flowers is a condition the French must be resigned to living with. (Wink.)

Yellow

Because: how could you possibly want to live in the middle of nowhere, unless Nowhere looked like this?

Yellow

Yellow

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tomandjerry

Miss Lavender and Miss Tulip.  Just a bit of (splendid) nonsense.  Which will make you smile. Especially if it’s been a while since you played like this with a friend. Todo les parece divertido, no? Perhaps you ought to grab a friend you play well with and proceed immediately to your local park.

I happen to have a best friend in town at the moment.  (We play extraordinarily well together.)  We did not make it to the Parc d’Horta, but we did do some rather impressive wandering yesterday, down through Plaza Catalunya, into La Iglesia Santa Anna, out into Barrio Gotíc, then through Plaza Jaume, into the Born neighborhood, doubling back to catch the Palau de Música, then catching the metro for home.  Of particular interest to us was the Llet Merengada gelato at my favorite place in Born.  Llet merengada:  merengued milk, glazed with fresh-ground nutmeg powder.  It was, well, more than satisfactory.

Today it’s Park Güell. (!)  Plus, the sun is out.  So thank you, weather gods.  By the way, I have tentatively named my friend Miss Celandine.  (Technically, she would of course be a Madame Celandine, but she doeesn’t look a day past ‘Miss.’)

 

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Levitating at cemetary in Carcassonne_1986

What if there were angels in the graveyard and they wore pink wool coats, suede mary janes, and moved with the alacrity of a seventeen year old on her way to a hot sale at Indie & Cold?

I mean–what if?

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Girl By A Stream In Andorra

by Becky on April 24, 2013

in Parenting, Travel

Close-up of Tessa by stream_1119

As I edit the photos of our trips, I’m always struck by the changing faces of my children. Here, the fresh-faced Miss Lavender stares down the camera during our brief roadside stop on our way down the mountain in Andorra. The story is that we had parked for a few minutes, fascinated at the snow runoff that had turned everywhere to waterfalls.

Waterfall feeding into stream_1115

But, as often happens, the camera starts training itself on faces.

Tessa's profile by stream_1121

Leave it to a long drive in a tiny foreign country to re-teach me what I’ve always known about this child: she’s an old spirit in a young body. If you doubt me, have a look at those eyes.

If you have a child like this–one who’s technically been around a decade or two but seems somehow to have been around for a thousand years–then you know how wonderfully odd and oddly wonderful it is to parent him or her.  One minute, mine is talking about a pair of handmade shoes she spotted in the Born district in Barcelona; the next, she’s weighing in on the merits of being able to thinslice someone’s mood based on their facial expressions or body language.  Typical Teen/Highly Observant Adult.

I suspect I’ll always have affectionate feelings for that mountain and the way it drains the snow.  Had we not stopped to consider the phenomenon, I would not have had an opportunity to reconsider Miss L’s eyes or reflect on the way they afford the careful observer a glimpse of an ageless soul.

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Facing forward_1707

You want your daughters to fly–if not from the walls of old fortresses, then at least into their futures, with confidence.

Levitating in ruins_1711

This thing Miss Lavender does, where she ‘levitates’ in some gorgeously odd spot, has a cool factor of like a gazillion–don’t you agree? And for me as a mom, it’s not just the illusion of flying that I find breathtaking; it’s the way the image just shouts girl power.

Levitating two_1254

I’m not saying I want my girls to rule the world.

Once again_1255

But I want them to rule themselves. And to be able to count on themselves to go far and fast when they desire to.

Tessa levitating in Sagunto_1245

To gather motion as they organize their goals.

Tess and Millie in air_1265

And to take care of each other, so that all the nonsense that too often pulls girls down won’t. Because they’ll know how to rise together.

Also:  for a look at the breathtaking images of the Japanese girl whose self-portraits inspired Miss Lavender to want to try levitating, visit her website with your kids!  It’s impossible not to be amazed at the mindblowingly graceful way she seems to defy gravity.  Her last post was in 2011 (sad!).  But all the material leading up to that post–wow!

 

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