Tag Archives: dress up

Indian Nights

By: Clare

Spring is turning to summer, brown is returning to green, and the world is glorious again. This was the case last Sunday night, as a warm breeze softly caressed the seemingly endless fields along our high hilltop home. My parents were away in Dallas attending my older brother’s college graduation, and  Mary and I were left to ourselves for a weekend. This got old quite fast, and so we eagerly agreed to babysitting our nieces and nephew. Someone came up with the idea to play Indians, which seemed like the perfect game for three wild children to play. First, the proper wardrobe and makeup were needed.

Adeline chose her dress carefully. It may not have fit very well with the Indian theme, but it definitely worked with the Adeline theme..which is DRAMATIC.

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Claire fit perfectly into the Indian dress Mary was as a girl, handmade by our “crafty” mother.

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We couldn’t resist putting Thaddeus in Robert’s old Indian boy outfit. And of course, Indian war paint was completely necessary.

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Watch out. He’s feisty.

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While Thaddeus went with the tough guy attitude, Claire stayed in a more melancholic mood.

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I can’t wait for summer and more Indian nights.

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Dressing Up and Running Wild

by Kate

Yesterday we left the city sparkling in the bright December sun and traveled to a tiny country church with the steepest set of steps I have ever seen.

We were there for the baptism of our godson, Gideon Josef.

Gideon is a remarkably peaceful, contented, and quiet child. This makes him distinctly different from his two year old sister Avila and my daughter Olympia. Actually Avila wasn’t so bad, but as for my child… Well. Any of you who have stood in front of a silent congregation holding a very vocal and squirming toddler can probably understand why I have claw marks on my face and neck this morning. I was fiercely engaged in a silent and public wrestling match with Olympia while standing in the front of the church before the baptismal font, until finally recognizing that she fervently wanted to be reunited with Avila, and gratefully surrendering her to the grandparents in the front pew. Meanwhile, the priest dropped his cane, and Gideon threw out his arm to ward off the holy water and knocked the vials of chrism oil onto the floor. In the end the cane and chrism were retrieved, the toddler was pacified with a camera, and the baby was duly baptized. Then there was cake, and time for the little girls to run wild. Note Avila’s truly fantastic fur coat.

The friendship between these two little girls has been a delight to watch. They have always had a special connection. It was interesting to watch an affinity so clearly pronounced between tiny babies. They are just getting old enough to do more than stare delightedly into each others eyes. I suspect this means they are on the verge of getting into a great deal of trouble.

They come by the friendship, fur coats, and propensity for trouble making honestly enough, as their mothers have spent many years dressing up, dreaming, and getting in and out of trouble together.

Granted we weren’t usually that dressed up. That picture was taken at the in the midst of the time we spent living in a blue cabin and running a theatre company together. Rebecca made all the costumes, so the cabin was full of them, and moments like these flowed out of our daily life. Of course, our daily lives tend to lead to dress up on a regular basis.

I am delighted to see the friendship (and the dressing up) continuing in the next generation.

 

You can read more about Rebecca (and her farm!) here:

Sunday at Sparta Farm

 

 

 

Canterbury Castle in the Sky

by Kate

 I read too much. I know the current emphasis is all on coaxing and bribing kids to read more, as though reading is an unalloyed virtue in and of itself. It isn’t. There are lots of trashy and downright awful books out there along with the good ones, and then there are the reams of  pure fluff. Sometimes I compare and contrast the current vogue for praising any and all reading with the stern Victorian admonitions against novels and wonder which school of thought is more realistic.  In any case, reading is an incredibly effective escapist past-time, which comes in really handy when you are growing up in a howling mob of nine children. My father, who never attends a sports event without a stack of magazines and library books, can attest to this.

The exorbitant amount of time that I spent reading while growing up fed an equally extravagent imagination.  I ran through the woods in torn silk remnents of bridesmaids dresses which caught on brambles and burrs but didn’t deter me from the palace grounds of my imagination. When I was 15, I became enamoured of donning a long thick cloak and wafting about the ridgetops in the mist, singing little ballads and pretending I was in Ireland. My brothers, who milked cows and had actual social interactions with our neighbors, were deeply humiliated and begged me to stop.

Luckily for me, I have been able to take this penchant for bringing the drama of novels into ordinary life and channel it into my work as a harpist. When I play the harp in public I make sure to dress the part. Voluminous ballgowns, pearls, hair flowing down the middle of my back- it adds much more depth to the performance, in my opinion, and also makes up for my rather mediocre skills and repertoire. I really think it works. I may not be a virtouso, but I am confident that I bring joy to the audiences I play for. These audiences are often made up of senior citizens, at retirement homes. Many of them are partially deaf. In that case the costume is more than half of the performance.

Recently I have begun playing often at Canterbury Place, a huge rambling stone and glass structure at the top of the steep hill running up my street. The original building was an Episcopal Church Home built 150 years ago as a home for orphans and elderly women living in genteel poverty. In the 1980’s, a massive addition was completed, with a glass walled aerie six floors up overlooking the city of Pittsburgh.

The only picture that I have that shows the size of the whole building is this one, with Canterbury Place in the background.

Yesterday, I was asked to play for the cocktail hour preceding a candlelight dinner for the residents. My harp was already there, tucked in a corner of the tiny historic 150 year old chapel, so I threw on a (wrinkled) hot pink 1940’s style ballgown and billowed up the street. I took the elevator up to the sixth floor, somehow managing to cart my harp, music stand, two large bags, and a camera.

I set the harp up in a large room with a fireplace, plate glass windows, and an ice sculpture.

I set the harp next to a massive antique grand piano, towering potted plant, and fantastic view. I apologize for the low quality of the pictoral evidence, as I was busy playing the harp and negotiating the swirling folds of my dress.

After playing, I wandered through the library.

And looked out the windows, trying and failing to capture the beauty of the view.

Here is a little story for you. A few years ago I worked in an office. At night, I curled up in an old armchair and drank wine and read the entire works of Jane Austen. I’d only read Pride and Prejudice growing up, and due to an unfortunate Christmas present that you can ask Colleen about, I happened to possess several of the rest of her novels. I spent a full month or two wandering through the mansions of Austen’s world, and at work I would stare past my computer and into space, dreaming about living in a huge rambling old mansion, wandering through the corridors into the library, reading and playing the harp, having genteel conversations and taking walks in the rain. (Here I go again with the walking in the rain. I blame the books entirely.) I couldn’t imagine an existence wherein those were my only responsibilities. I still can’t, although I have been startled in the past couple years by how often the pattern of my life has taken those rough forms, much more than it resembles my time in an office. However, I am thrilled by the fact that by dint of my side job as a harpist at a genteel senior citizens community, I regularly wander through unknown corriders into libraries with sweeping views of the city, play upon the harp in salons with large chandeliers, and perhaps best of all sweep down the staircase in a trailing ballgown. Even if it is wrinkled.

I am constantly amazed and amused by the manner in which dreams turn to reality.

Sunbonnet Style

by Mary

At the catholic school that I work at I see hats. Lots and lots of hats. For I am a Wisconsin resident which means that even in late March one still needs to cover his or her ears more often times than not. Blah! Typically, kids playing on the playground during outdoor recess wear black hats, or hats with penguins or flowers…you get my drift.

But a few weeks ago out came Little Claire  (not my sister, but my niece), who I have adored since the hot July day she was born nearly 7 years ago, wearing a sunbonnet. Yup, that’s right. No penguins or flowered patterns for her. A big floppy sunbonnet with red flowers that completely contrasted with her hot pink jacket was her self created genius 6 year old look.

Memories came to me as I looked at her in amusement, taking me back to my own childhood. She reminded me of a photo we have buried somewhere in a crammed tin can of old, old pictures. In the photo Kate, Colleen and I are standing in front of the woodstove. Like Little Claire, Kate’s imagination was busy at work. She had us dressed in frumpy dresses and we have head coverings over our hair. I would like to think that the white material on our hair is muslin or cheesecloth, but I am afraid that it most likely is cloth dipers. I am relieved that unlike our niece, we were all homeschooled at this point, thus meaning that “our look” remained more of a secret than my nieces, though Kate did manage to publicize the look through creating a photo shoot session.

I guess you could say that Little Claire has a bit of her Aunty Kate’s blood in her. I am grateful to be in a family of strong girls and women who cherish and uphold unique individuality….even if it means freezing ones ears off in a sunbonnet or wearing cloth diapers on your head.