What Do I Want To Reflect?

One of the nice things (if you can call ANYTHING about divorce nice) is that I get to start over, While moving is usually exciting to me this time I find everything seems muted, Colors, sound, views…all different than before. Almost like seeing everything in black and white instead of in beautiful vibrant color.

One of the things I am starting over on is my home. What do I want it to reflect when someone steps inside? How does it identify who and what I believe? After 32 years of marriage who am I ALONE? What do I want people to glean about me when they enter my domain? And so I have been working on this the past week and would like to show you a few of the results….starting with the kitchen.

I paired an antique french table with these modern chairs. I think it says a lot about who I amIMG_3893

Next is the formal living room. Since I left my beautiful baby grand piano back in Texas I find the room has doubled in size! I have a corner to fill but other than that it is done.

First I went on Craig’s list and found this old desk which I brought home and painted. I paired it with a chair from Ross Dress For Less which cost under $50.

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Remember the Persian Rugs that I bought and that B hated well I think this one looks really good with the sofa. I found the modern chair to pair with my art deco cabinet as a floor sample and swept it up for under $175. Yes, I bought that beautiful velvet Green sofa off of Wayfair and I LOVE it. So tired of the former all brown “Family”  look.

 

I have had this large scroll painting since I went to China the last time but had no where to hang it. With that big boring blank wall hogging up the space I decided the Giant Tibetan Mastiff and his girl really needed a home there. I love this picture because it reminds me so much of Tibet…the kids with smudges of dirt all over their faces no matter where you went.

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Finally, I had this other picture from Ethiopia and have never done anything with it. The dimensions were such that it could not be framed so I solved that problem by filling the landing wall with it.

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I hope through these pictures you get a glimpse of who I am.

Today, I also got off my ass and went for a three mile walk. Here are a few pictures of what I saw:

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My Faith In Humanity Restored Through Ballet (Stories Of The Camp Fire)

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Last night I had the privilege of attending the ballet and what an evening it was! Sure, the story was slightly delayed for the season but out of the ashes the most famous ballet in the world arose in all its glory, tradition, and pageantry in a borrowed theatre here in Northern California. And the story of how this production came to be is perhaps better than the beloved Nutcracker itself… because in this story my faith in humanity was restored.

Now I am not a huge fan of ballet. I don’t often attend performances.  Since I am a writer, I am a lover of words, and without those sometimes my attention strays making ballet somewhat problematic. Needless to say, attending what I thought was going to be an “amateur” performance; I suspected the night might be filled with pokes and prods to keep me awake. Was I ever wrong.

Last night I discovered the Northern California Ballet. Since 1983 it has been producing full-length classic ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and A Midsummer’s Nights Dream. Besides production, the studio has also taught hundreds of children dance skills that have led some to professional dance careers. It is a mighty place full of hope, dreams, and plain old hard work. There are no slackers, slouches or amateurs here!

As the holiday season was fast approaching Northern California Ballet was rehearsing their version of The Nutcracker when disaster hit. On November 9, 2018 the Camp Fire swooped through the town of Paradise killing 85 and wiping out the majority of this close-knit community. It goes on record as the deadliest fire in California history. But that is just the beginning of the horror. In addition to all the lives lost, almost 14,000 homes went up in smoke and so did the studio and storage shed belonging to the Northern California Ballet. With such a fast-moving fire no one had time to save anything. NOTHING. The kids no longer had clothes, school supplies, or a warm bed. They no longer had the comfort nor the routine of dance. Gone were their ballet costumes and their dreams of dancing on stage…or so they thought. Yet, when hardship and devastating circumstances arise somehow folks find the strength to fight back and find a way to turn tragedy into triumph which is exactly what Northern California Ballet did. And last night it showed. The dancers were talented, elegant and polished. They danced with real joy radiating from their faces. The world was their oyster and they were the pearls.

How did they accomplish so much in so little time? Just plain dedication and hard work. But an even more important ingredient was the global ballet community in general. As it turns out companies from all over the world donated costumes, backdrops and props. The Eugene Ballet Company, dancer Angela V Carter’s costumes from Ballet New England’s productions, and both large and small studios from Iowa to Florida found ways to give to their sister in need while volunteers sewed and stitched late into the night. And so, a vital community resource went from a studio of smoke and ashes to an on-stage performance in just a little over two months. Now that is what I call dedication. I also call it a miracle.

In addition to the dance itself music was provided by a live orchestra hiding out in the orchestra pit. These musicians were also from Paradise and many had lost their homes in the fire and their precious instruments as well. Yet, somehow they managed to come together (borrowed instruments and all) and play magnificently. Watching a ballet performed to live music instead of tape is an honor these days and I felt blessed to do so.

By coincidence I went to Paradise last week. It was my first trip up there since the fire. The devastation is immense. Unless you have survived living in a war zone you have probably never seen anything like it. It is shocking. It is horrific. It is incredibly sad.

 

Yet, after tonight’s performance by Northern California Ballet, I have hope for this world. People are amazing. Their resilience astounds me. Their fight to rise again gives me hope. Kids who dedicate themselves to their craft no matter what are inspiring. And the generosity of an arts community to their sister in need are exactly the kinds of acts of compassion and love that the world needs to see.

So fear not and have hope. There are heroes walking amongst us and tonight they were all on stage at The Nutcracker for the world to see. I wish you could see them too.

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Please visit the Northern California Ballet site to learn more. http://www.northerncaliforniaballet.com/?page_id=33

Also, they could use your financial help. Here is their GO FUND ME page. I hope you will give generously.

https://www.gofundme.com/small-ballet-studio-destroyed-in-paradise-fire?member=&utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=contacts-v2-invite-to-donate

 

A Little Whimsy-Your True Nature

I don’t think I have ever endorsed a product before but I really think that these make cute gifts for the holiday season. Best of all they are cheap! I found these bookmarks a couple of weeks ago when I was at the visitors center at a National Park near my home. I believe that the advice and reminders are spot on.

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There are a ton of these including Advice From A Mountain, Advice From A Bear and Advice From A Sasquatch. Such cute reminders of the important things in life without having to beat someone over the head with the sentiments.

Visit http://www.yourtruenature.com to view and shop for all their wildly unique gifts.

This ends this public service announcement. We now return you to our regular blog.

 

What Is Right With Me

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So often in life we concentrate on what is wrong with us – the things we cannot do, our shortcomings and our foibles. We examine our “issues” so often that we can recite them in our sleep and as the list grows sometimes it feels like there is so much “wrong” that we don’t know what we can possibly do to change what we have told ourselves is “fact.” So what if today, we changed things up a bit and decided to concentrate on all that is “right” with us. How would that influence our beliefs about ourselves and make a “so-so” day into one that shines and puts little skip in our steps.

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Here is my list for today in no particular order. I would love to see yours in the comments section.

  1. I am a good researcher. I find things others can’t.
  2. I am a good friend. I can keep a secret better than anyone.
  3. I am interested in others lives and enjoy being attentive to their experiences.
  4. I am interesting. I have a breadth of knowledge about many things and I try to keep up with current events.
  5. I am a fierce Momma Bear and advocate for my children and march on in my efforts when others would have given up.
  6. I fight for the things that I love.
  7. Family is important to me and I try to make sure that those I love know that they are valued and loved by me.
  8. I love to travel, meet people, and learn from my experiences.
  9. If a puzzle needs to be solved I am your gal.
  10. I am not afraid to walk up to a person and start a conversation.
  11. I am fun and do the unexpected like take photos of my friends who could not attend our group event, blow their pictures up, staple them to sticks, and carry them through the city with me photographing them at places like the CHEERS BAR in Boston.
  12. I am smart.
  13. I recognize and honor my intuitiveness.
  14. I work hard when something needs to be done.
  15. For the most part I am content with what I have and have no need to “keep up with the Joneses.”
  16. I know how much that I really don’t know.
  17. I am compassionate with loved ones and strangers.
  18. I am a good writer.
  19. I try to stay in touch with others and send cards and letters to others so that they know that they are on my mind.
  20. I work hard at preserving my family history so that my family can learn from our past.
  21. I am able to self-hypnotize so that I can quickly relax and get to a peaceful state of mind.
  22. When I do get down in spirit I work hard to lighten the load so I can return to a place of happiness.
  23. I do small things for myself (like a warm candle-lit bath) on a regular basis.
  24. I read on a regular basis.
  25. I exercise often.
  26. I am a seeker
  27. I sing well.
  28. Integrity is important to me. I try hard to be fair and honest.

Hopefully after making this list you too will see that there is so much good in and around you that when things become challenging you can whip out your list and give yourself a boost to face the coming day. We all have our gifts which need to be acknowledged and celebrated far more often than we do. In remembering what is good about ourselves we can offer it to others or wrap those things around our own selves like a blanket on a cold rainy day. For knowing ourselves gives us the ability to live freely so that what we do aligns with who we are. Amen!

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Stilettos

“Mom,” says Gracie. “I have an orchestra competition and I need black shoes with heels.”

Heels? I think. She can’t be old enough for heels, can she? There is no way. Just yesterday I was rocking her to sleep, picking out her clothes and teaching her to ride a bike. Heels? I am not ready for this! Heels means makeup, makeup means proms, and proms mean BOYS. Crap…not boys! Not yet! Not EVER!

An hour later we are headed for the store doing the joint mother/daughter thing to pick out her first pair of heels. As I drive a feel a pull in my gut warning me that I should just turn around and go home.

” I like these,” she says as she holds up a pair of 5-inch stilettos that any good hooker would covet.

OH HELL NO! explodes like white lightning throughout my feeble brain. My mother’s words of “No daughter of mine…” come flooding back to me and trip over my tongue on the way out of my mouth.

I feel compelled right here and now, in the middle of the shoe department, to the have “the talk” about what is appropriate and what is not at her age. As I drone on she grimaces, “oh moms” and rolls her eyes more times than I care to count but I think my point has been well taken until she whines…

“I’m not a little girl”

“You’re not twenty-five either nor do you have a job and you don’t earn your own money to buy the things that you want.”

“Of course I don’t have a job,” she shoots back. “I am only 12! But if I did I would be buying those shoes!” her hands gently caressing the soft black velvet.

I take this as a cue to hold up a pair of ballet flats figuring if I show her THESE, knowing she likes THOSE, perhaps we can find a compromise somewhere in this warehouse of shoes.

Gracie holds up a different pair with four-inch heels that climb up her legs like a vine on a tree.

“How about these?” she says with a smile that looks more like a dare.

“How about not.”

And so it goes until she shows me the 10th pair with heels that shoot you up towards the sky.

“Honey,” I ask. “Why is it that you are drawn to shoes with such high heels?”

“Come on mom, think about it. I am the shortest one in my class and on the diving team. No one sees me. Just once I want to look up at someone instead of them looking down on me.”

Finally, I get it. Her need for height is a need for being seen. For being like everyone else, in a world where Asians are often not seen nor heard. For being “looked at” instead of being invisible.

I give her a squeeze and suggest we find something that will give her lift but not up to the clouds. We finally settle on a two-inch inch wedge that gives her a little extra notice but not in that over-the-top teenage way.

As we drive home we talk about girl things. Things I once understood but don’t quite get now. Things I have forgotten as the years have rolled by. Big feelings that once threatened to overtake me when I was her age.

“Mom,” Gracie says. “I have a confession. I didn’t really want those big heels. I just wanted to see what you would let me get away with.”

“Really? Why would you do that?”

“Geez mom, I’m almost a teen. I have to start pushing the boundaries someday you know.”

I laugh and I know that she does, but I hope she will wait just a little bit longer before the boundaries are pushed all the way to Siberia. For the truth is it isn’t the boundaries that worry me it is the fact that she is my baby and there is a small part of me, in a world that moves too fast, that wants her to remain that way forever.

The Truth About Ourselves

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During the past 18 months I have learned that sometimes navigating the truth about myself takes me through deep, muddy waters that leaves my soul chilled to the bone. But the wonderful thing is that I can change, if I so choose; all the while knowing that meaningful change takes time. For change is a process, we cannot rush it, and it will happen in its own time.

There is a beautiful prayer I once heard written by a Benedictine nun which goes something like this: “Dear God, show me the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.”

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And it is really true that there is beauty in who we are and what we do even if we fail to recognize it. Sometimes it is buried deep and you need a bulldozer to dig it out. Sometimes that beauty sits on the surface of our souls. And sometimes we just have to let a little bit of light in to let it reflect all the amazing facets of our personalities that are like a diamond which shines and dances across the room. Most importantly, we don’t need someone else to validate this beauty in us. It is there for us to enjoy alone if that is what we please.

We can see ourselves as even more beautiful through our own eyes when we view our own truths about ourselves and acknowledge those truths.  Some of those truths will be transitory while others occupy a more permanent place on our journey but the most important thing is to grant ourselves grace while moving forward with eyes and heart wide open and refusing to punish ourselves any further for those times in life when we just didn’t know or do better. We are all imperfect and it is a waste of time to cling to “what was” instead of trying to make “what is” even better.

So with this in mind, today, as I go about these minutes that are granted to me; I will try to be kind to myself because if I can’t even grant that simple thing to myself how can I expect to be kind to others?  I will also try to bring myself into, and be mindful of the present moments that I am witness to, knowing that things are the way they are suppose to be right at this moment in time. And I will bask in these moments of newfound acceptance knowing all the while that change takes time and I am doing the best I can right now to find greater peace and understanding through the transformation that it occurring deep in my soul.

I will be patient.

Been There…Not Done That

This is my sixth trip to South Korea. The first three were blinded by tears as we picked up our children when they were infants. Those days were short but sweet after waiting a half-a-year to finally meet them.

The last time we came to Korea as a family was seven years ago. Those were trying times. The boys were in the midst of autism and there was a real fear we would lose them on the subway. In fact, I remember that Paul decided to play hide-and-seek in the subway and scooted away into a telephone booth while we were racked with panic trying to find him. He was one of those kids who really needed to be on a leash because he would take off if given the chance. It is wonderful to see him this time…so excited to be discovering his culture. I have never seen him as happy as he was today.

On the other hand, Andre was struggling. All the walking. All the newness. All the change wasn’t doing him any favors. He didn’t want to come because change is so difficult for him. But to our credit we make him vacation with our family even though at times it would be easier for him just to stay home. There are just some memories that must be made and I will confess serenity was easy to come by in The Secret Garden.

We have never visited Seoul in the fall before. That was a mistake because the beauty of the place, the slow cool breezes make this experience memorable. The colors are vivid and more intense than I have ever seen. The scenery is amazing. But instead of telling you I will just show you…Korea in her glory.

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Contemplation

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This morning I went to Pilate class in hopes that someday I will be able to bend down and touch my toes with my knees straight. I tell you this with some embarrassment, my face a hazy red even as I write this confession which when spoken aloud might sound something like, “Dear Father. Forgive me for I have sinned. I am guilty of gluttony. Of sloth too. Oh, I forgot to mention acedia. Definitely acedia. Maybe, I should thrown in a little wrath at my lack of impulse control too. Help me!”

Unfortunately, these vices are just the ones that come to mind within 5.2 seconds of the thought. Yes, paying someone to exercise with me feels somewhat tawdry and on the edge of something shameful; like eating a pint of ice cream all by yourself  or having sex in a public place and getting caught with your pants down. In a world dominated by inequity it is the definition of gross irony.

In many other countries I would not have this problem of trying to stay in shape. I could easily be starving. Or walking down to the river to carry water up to my hut for cooking numerous times per day. Maybe I would be journeying five long miles each way to school so I could get an education. Or perhaps I would be picking through trash in a giant garbage heap in an effort to survive. There is no doubt I would be in shape because I would be working from sun up to sun down in ways that tax all your muscles as well as your spirit in order to get the job of survival done. Skinny in these parts of the world is more than just a desire to satisfy cultural “ideals.” Instead, it is a mandatory state that naturally occurs due to too little food and too much work. A choice concerning body image is not found anywhere in the life equation for so many women.

No, this is not the LIBERAL WHITE GUILT that so many speak of. It is witnessing firsthand the back breaking work that is required of so many of millions of people throughout the world on a daily basis. It is trying my hand washing hundred of dirty diapers used in an orphanage in Ethiopia. It is laying brick in a hamlet in Mexico.  It is trying to teach students without the necessary materials. Or laying pipe for fresh water in a remote village. These are the things that have shown me how little I know about hard work, suffering, and how much a dollar means to so many. More importantly, they remind me about the privilege of choice which I possess and I rarely think of as I go about my busy day. A choice that vast numbers of people do not have about what their day brings. Suffering instead of starvation, bombs, vicious gang rapes, and of having to beg in the street for pennies. These are the things of which I know nothing and of which too many know too much about.

So I hop into my car and drive the four miles to my pilates class contemplating the size of my butt and the state of the world, both of which are loose and somewhat saggy. And as I do, I find I have mixed feelings about this life I lead in which I have the luxury of contemplation and not the burden of shoeless feet. And I  begin to wonder about the travels of “the other/my sister/ my fellow human being” as we both make our way down these two very different roads that we both call life and what I can do to help.

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Halloween Hooters

Sigh. Today I was invited to a Halloween party. Usually I wait to the last minute to get a costume and as  result I get to choose between two: this and that.

But this year I am getting a jump on things. I’m shopping early and there are so many choices when you don’t wait until October 30th to find something to wear.

In case you haven’t guessed, I am not a big fan of Halloween. I don’t like dressing up in funny costumes. I don’t like slogging my way through drunken people with sharp tails and dull wit, being haunted by Casper the Ghost, and smelly vampires who are dressed as blood-sucking politicians. I also don’t like the fact that evil is personified in the face of an 8 yo slasher who comes to my door. But what I really distain is the fact that woman are objectified no matter what the costume is. Frankly, I don’t know if I am just jealous that I will never look like these women again or if it really does offend the feminist in me. For instance take a look at these halloween designs.

Now, I don’t know about you but the history books I was taught from stated that pirates had scurvy, rickets, no teeth, poor hygiene and lice. Lots of them. And frankly, I don’t know how these poor pirates would make it out on the high seas with such skimpy clothing. Looks like a guarantee for deathbed pneumonia and burial at sea to me.

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I suspect that B would like this one and what man wouldn’t?

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Having a woman grant your every wish followed by a wide eyed “Yes Master” is probably every man’s dream.Of course, this also encourages that harem/polygamist idea that has been  floating around in the back of their heads since they were six too. But frankly, if Jeannie is suppose to represent a Middle Eastern woman she needs to put on more clothes.

The Angel vs. the Devil on my shoulder thing seems to be another men’s fantasy.

 

And one can easily see why they are such popular characters. I don’t know what Bible the designers are reading but it certianly isn’t the King James. Yet, the most gruesome thing of all about these particular costumes is being forced to wear 7 inch heels to a Halloween party…now that is just worse than burning in hell!

I have recently noticed the candy bar costume has come into vogue. The first thing I will say is that she looks like a Mounds Bar not a Snickers. But what bothers me more is that this is obviously the kind of outfit should come with a warning that every leering weirdo guy will hit on you uttering the words “I enjoy eating snickers” as a part of them melts while imagining that they are removing your chocolate coating.

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I also have a problem with the action figure costumes. While Wonder Woman may be able to get the job done I suspect it would be twice as hard when you are having to constantly worry if your nipples are showing and pulling up your bustier between punches. And the cape? Well, it isn’t made of ermine to keep you warm as you are flying through the night sky. And how does she avoid gigantic goosebumps when being photographed in the middle of New York in 32 degree weather?

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Next up…the animal costumes.

 

Okay, as far as I know all of these creatures can give you rabies. That’s bad enough but that zebra tail looks like something out of an S&M show. That rabies/S&M combo seems just as terrifying as ebola. Cat’s or bummies are both very soft and furry…the benefit of wearing these…I don’t have to shave for several months.

I know there are many men who think that women look good in a uniform and these certainly don’t disappoint. I suspect if the Armed Services used these woman as recruiting tools that we would have an overflow of dedicated new soldiers.

Of course there are always those in the SERVICE industry. I tell you what, if all the hospital nurses looked like that they would be filled to capacity (the hospitals that is)

Yes, Halloween costumes for women this year look like what you would wear to a masquarade ball at a sex club. So I decided to take a gander at the men’s dress up gear.

 

Appears that they only have the penis costume which comes in large and larger. I like costume this because it makes it easy to spot the biggest dick in the room very easily and steer clear.

Which leads me to the costume I have picked out. It seems appropriate for a 55 year old woman…not to frilly, not too fancy, it comes in a very slimming color and I don’t have to wear heels or panties!

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While The Cat’s Away…

Okay, if I am honest here the whole “DRESS UP FOR YOUR MAN” thing weirds me out a little, especially at my age.  When I was 20 I could pull it off because…well…I was 20! Yet, as a feminist dressing up for a man often feels degrading and so out-datedly contrived. And as a mother.. yuck…just yuck…thinking that someday the men in my three daughter’s lives will be oglingimages-9 them as they flounce about in an effort to try to please their husbands.imgres

 

Yet, I do recognize the fact that men are visual creatures and that after being married for so many years that sex can become a tad boring imgres-2 unless you do something to spice it up a bit. But what to wear without looking like a chubby little schoolgirlgirls-skipping-school-costume that really sends a really perverted message?images-14 It is always a dilemma for a not-so-skinny 50 + year old woman. images-18

 

So I decided while the cat’s away this mouse will play…with different styles of sex-wear. I’m starting with the easiest first…stockings.

Frankly, I was surprised at the variety of stockings that are available these days. When I was 20 years-old fishnets were really risque and only the “bad” girls wore them. Now perhaps I should have been “bad” a little more often so I have decided to regress and try these on for size.

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I mean seriously if these don’t catch a man’s eye he is stone cold dead.images-3 But frankly, it would be helpful if the manufacturer included a tutorial on how to put these on so the seam goes STRAIGHT up the back of your legs instead of swerving side to side like a cheap drunk.

FISHNETS have come a long way baby! My oh my, the choices are mind numbing these days. Bows, lace, and streamers are now standard fishing gear allowing you to reach even lower depths than before.

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I have to stop here to confess that I’ve always wondered why these types of stockings are called fishnets. (Yes, those ARE the crazy questions that keep my mind spinning out of control) Yet, as I wrote this, it occurred to me that wearing fishnets have one purpose and one purpose only….trolling for fish… and once you catch that fish in your net it is yours until you decide to throw it back. In this case, size really does influence that decision.

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I never knew until today that you could buy stockings with writing on them. What a great idea! I know a lot of women who would like TALK TO MY LAWYER climbing the back of their legs as they were walking away from their cheater husbands. zu6932816_main_tm1388876938YOU DON’T DESERVE ME and FUCK YOU would probably be other popular choices.

 

There are also the RICH BITCH hose. I propose that any woman who wears these sparklers should demand a real diamond for each of the fake ones that grace her legs.zu6295865_main_tm1390849776

 

 

Then there are the WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST thigh highs. zu6369623_main_tm1385773170You’ll have to buy your own flying monkeys if you want to add an element of danger to your sex life.

There are also the sentimental I LOVE YOU type of nylons.zu20591130_main_tm1414434537 Somehow I imagine this just wouldn’t look good on a 50+ year-old broad and I shudder to think of being in a car accident and having the paramedics cutting them off with an onslaught of rubberneckers witnessing this kinky event. I am sure that those paramedics would never be able to work again due to the trauma they had endured.

Finally, a burning question that I have always had is this… do stockings go with flats? I have bad knees and wearing shoes like the models wear  would bring me to my knees which, I confess, is probably where my husband would like to see me, if you know what I mean. But seriously, doesn’t it look like something is missing here?    images-22

So I am off to the store for some sexy seven story high stilettos, a knee brace, and a tube of Ben Gay. I  can only hope that I don’t fall off of them as I greet B at the door wearing almost nothing but a red face.