Heads Up! #5: Deep Purple

It’s a big day in the U.S. of A. today: after months (years) of wildly optimistic campaign promises, sometimes baffling debates, and too many social media meltdowns, the presidential election is finally here.

A big day deserves a bold hat!

This purple velvet beauty, trimmed in a sweep of iridescent blue, green, and white feathers (peacock, perhaps?) and a wide purple grosgrain ribbon, makes me think of the femme fatale in a 1940s film noir. The brim is low and wide, dipping below the eye on one side, giving it a bit of mystery and drama.

I find it pairs well with black and a bit of attitude.

Still, its bright hue and asymmetrical fold keep it from getting too serious.

Maybe we should keep that kind of balance in mind when we’re talking politics?

The hat was made by “Wesco.” There have been at least three different U.S. companies who sported that name, though it was not clear which of them were in the millinery trade. There are a number of other vintage hats on Etsy and eBay advertised as “Wesco” chapeaux, but no one notes any additional details.

It is a hat, then, with more mystery than history. On a day that’s making history for other reasons—the first time we have the opportunity to vote for a woman as a major party candidate for president—perhaps that’s just as it should be.

Heads Up!

All photos in gallery 1 by Margaret McGlaun.

Header photo and all photos in gallery 2 by Laura Wade Photography.


∼ Beautiful, quirky vintage hats make me happy. The “Heads Up!” series is a reminder to keep my (currently bald) head up, to pay attention to the good in the world, and to encourage myself and others facing a tough road that it’s possible to find the fun in even the most challenging circumstances. ∼

BCBC: Harold Kushner’s Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life

Rabbi Harold Kushner is probably best known for his 1981 book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. In that text he describes his son Aaron’s journey through progeria, rapid-aging syndrome, and how that experience profoundly affected Kushner’s relationship to religion, God, and his congregants. Kushner has written a number of books since, and I happened upon this, his most recent, published in 2015, in a book catalog I received in the mail. Intrigued by the title, I was curious what essential life lessons he had to impart.

Kushner1Kushner’s work is embedded in the Jewish faith, though his lessons are broadly applicable, drawing equally upon everyday people’s stories as well as religious texts and history for illustration. I’m a spiritual seeker who does not identify solely or specifically with any single faith tradition at this point in my life, though I feel there is something larger and greater than individual human desires, and I tend to imagine the sacred, in the broadest terms, as the realization of the combined forces of love and compassion in the world. So much of Kushner’s understanding of who and what “God” is (and isn’t) resonates with me, given that one of his truths is “God is Not a Man Who Lives in the Sky.” He writes, “To me, God is like love, affecting all people but affecting each one differently, according to who he or she is. God is like courage, a single trait that manifests itself differently as it is filtered through the lives and souls of specific individuals” (29). Love and courage: both profoundly human and deeply sacred.

I also like what Kushner says about prayer, especially in relation to illness. As I noted in my previous post on strength and letting go, getting attached to or assuming that only one specific outcome is acceptable can be emotionally dangerous. Kushner, wisely I think, opines that it’s the doctor’s job to “make sick people healthy,” whereas it’s “God’s job is to make sick people brave” (29). He notes in more detail later, “God’s role is to give us the vision to know what we need to do, to bless us with the qualities of soul that we will need in order to do them ourselves, no matter how hard they may be, and to accompany us on that journey” (34). “God,” in that description, manifests as both internal traits like strength and fortitude, and external supports like friends and caregivers. That is a vision of God I understand.

While I enjoyed the book as a whole, the two lessons/chapters I connected with most, as someone in the throes of a health challenge, were “God Does Not Send the Problem; God Sends Us the Strength to Deal with the Problem,” and “Leave Room for Doubt and Anger in Your Religious Outlook.”  In the first, Kushner writes, “I find God not in the tests that life imposes on us but in the ability of ordinary people to rise to the challenge, to find within themselves qualities of soul, qualities of courage they did not know they had until the day they needed them” (43).  Again, he focuses on traits at once spiritual and humane, and our ability to access them through grit and grace.

Kushnercopy1In the later chapter on doubt and anger, Kushner explores another theme close to my heart, especially at this juncture in my life. I have always been a bit allergic to certainty, and he actively embraces the idea that we should raise questions, “admit our anger” when it arises, and affirm a “readiness to live with doubt.” To do otherwise means we’re avoiding truth and minimizing the complexity of any genuine relationship: “Accepting anger, ours and that of people close to us, has to be part of any honest relationship” (130), writes Kushner, and it’s only through acknowledging that the tough stuff is equally as valid as the good that we can love–that we can be fully present in any capacity, I would add–with our whole hearts.

Kushner’s claims that religion, ideally, should connect, rather than separate or divide, and that the best way to feel better about oneself is to find a way to help others, also ring true.

In short, there is much in this brief, readable volume (170 pages) to comfort and inspire. Happy reading!

Heads Up! #4: Red Velvet Day

This rolled-and-ruched red velvet cloche is one I found at an antique store and fell in love with immediately. Its hue falls somewhere between red and pink, depending on the light, and its organic folds and pleats are full of movement, even when it’s simply resting atop the head.

The hat is finished with one wide grosgrain band that wraps and encircles its narrow brim, and a second, doubled ribbon in the same shade that gathers the pleats on the right side of the back crown. The only tag inside indicates that it was “Union Made in the U.S.A.”

Sometimes I feel a bit silly or indulgent playing with my hats. I mean, I have cancer. I should be serious, right? Every day I’m reminded that energy and time are finite quantities, so I should use them wisely, yes?

Pish. Today is the only day we have. That makes it all the more important to embrace frivolity, joy, and superfluous delights, which really aren’t superfluous at all.

This topper’s bright color and sassy cheer, by the way, make it a great hat to mark two notable milestones: the conclusion of my chemotherapy, and the advent of the autumn leaf hues that are finally beginning to appear!

Heads up!

All photos by Laura Wade Photography.


∼ Beautiful, quirky vintage hats make me happy. The “Heads Up!” series is a reminder to keep my (currently bald) head up, to pay attention to the good in the world, and to encourage myself and others facing a tough road that it’s possible to find the fun in even the most challenging circumstances. ∼

 

Heads Up! #3: Crossroads Hat

I picked this cream straw hat up at an antique store somewhere along the way because its two-way arrow made me giggle. I like its wit and its honesty: don’t we all feel pulled in different directions, unsure which path to take, just flat-out confused at times?

The hat is a Betmar, a company that still makes hats today. According to Betmar New York, “Betmar’s history goes back to the depths of the Great Depression in America,” in 1933.  “A partnership was formed with a skilled old-line cap maker with roots dating back to 1911 in New York. The name chosen was taken from Betty Marks, the first designer for the hat company.”

I honored the hat’s playfulness by highlighting its own dual nature.

Worn straight on the head, its bucket shape recalls a pith helmet, with a little nautical nod. So I embraced its military bearing with a buttoned-up look.

Paired with a vintage 1920s dress, the hat feels flapper-ish and adds a little fun (and some much-needed head-shade) to a sunny afternoon in the park.

The crossroads hat definitely captures the dual mindset chemotherapy requires: embracing toxic chemicals and unpleasant side effects now in order to achieve health, long-term. It seems equally apropos of our current election season….

Every day is a kind of crossroads. Every day, finding whatever beauty and joy in the present that is possible is a path we can choose.

arrowhat2

Heads Up!

Photographer: Steve Prisley


∼ Beautiful, quirky vintage hats make me happy. The “Heads Up!” series is a reminder to keep my (currently bald) head up, to pay attention to the good in the world, and to encourage myself and others facing a tough road that it’s possible to find the fun in even the most challenging circumstances. ∼

Heads Up! #2: A Hat with History

∼ Beautiful, quirky vintage hats make me happy. The “Heads Up!” series is a reminder to keep my (currently bald) head up, to pay attention to the good in the world, and to encourage myself and others facing a tough road that it’s possible to find the fun in even the most challenging circumstances. ∼

The red hat featured here belonged to my mother Margaret, who purchased it at a milliner’s shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when she was a teenager. The shallow crown and wide brim suggest it is what’s known as a “cartwheel” hat. She wore this red blocked beauty, trimmed with a bow, to church (along with white gloves, as that was the fashion for young ladies then) during her high school years.

I am wearing it to celebrate being three-quarters of the way through my chemotherapy treatments. Hooray!

Heads up!

 Photographer: Steve Prisley

Heads Up #1! — Hats on Parade

Beautiful, quirky, vintage hats make me happy, so I’ve titled this series “Heads Up!” as a reminder to keep my (currently bald) head up, to pay attention to the good in the world, and as an encouragement to myself and others facing a tough road that it’s possible to find the fun in even the most challenging circumstances.

hatboxes

I’ve collected vintage hats since college. I can’t recall what sparked my initial interest, although I do remember scanning the newspaper for estate sales one summer looking for vintage hats and clothing (this was pre-Craigslist, -eBay, and -Etsy –how times change!). I discovered a treasure trove at a sale in my Georgia hometown that day and have been hooked ever since. I inherited hats from my maternal grandmother, my mom gifted some from her younger days, and others have come as gifts over the years. I also own some great vintage scarves and contemporary toppers that may find their way into this feature occasionally.

I think we lost the opportunity for some serious fashion fun when hats went out of vogue, and I’ve long thought they should have a comeback. I wore my vintage finds regularly for a while, and I still wear hats with pleasure, though these days I reach for contemporary styles more often than I do the oldies. Since choosing good headwear has now become an almost daily ritual, I thought this moment in my life was a good time to dig back into the hatboxes and have a little extra fun with my collection. Why should it stay hidden atop our closet shelves?

So, featured hat #1: A spring-green blocked fabric cloche with three wide ribbon stripes in orange, aqua, and cream. No label, found at a local antique store some years ago.

image

Perfect for an outdoor summer party, or to add a little cheer to the chemo treatment room!

Heads up, friends!


Next-post preview: What do chickens and an MRI have in common? Revisit on Friday to find out…