Friday, May 23, 2008, 12:48 PM
Yesterday, as members of the
American Coaster Enthusiasts, my older son and I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California to ride X2 multiple times for media day. The roller coaster doesn't officially
open to the public until Saturday, but a number of coaster enthusiasts, Los
Angeles County fire fighters and their families, and members of local Boys’ and
Girls’ Clubs had been invited to help provide backgrounds for newscasters
reporting on the ride.
X originally opened six or seven years ago, and I went to the media day for
that, too. Since that time, the trains have gotten really rough and, more
importantly from an operational standpoint, unreliable, so Six Flags contracted
for a redesigned vehicle with a different company. It is significantly lighter
so it should be less subject to breakdowns.
The new trains had been thoroughly tested with water-filled plastic dummies
before any people are allowed on. Normally, the dummies are just vaguely anthropomorphic
torsos, but these were fully humanoid, partly articulated plastic bottles. I
saw a coaster train parked on a siding with the test dummies still on board as
I walked the back way up to the ride, and they all appeared intact. I had some
hopes that X2 would be as good as X was when new, and if that were the case, I’d
ride it several times. If not, I planned to ride once and then just take
It had not been restored to
youth, alas. The lighter trains made it run faster, which reduced my enjoyment
of my favorite “sky dive” element, where the seat flips forward as the train
plunges almost vertically toward the ground. A new, unpleasant “head bang”
element had been added to the numerous “shoulder contusion” elements I
remembered from my last ride on the old X. But at least I could walk when I got
off, which was an improvement. Magic Mountain also fed us
hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh fruit and soft drinks, so I had lunch and decided
to try it again. Twice was enough for me, although one Coaster Diva of my
acquaintance was working her way back the train so she could experience the
ride in each of the seven rows.
We left a little early so my son could get to his afternoon class and I could
get some still photos of a mosaic on a police station in Central
Los Angeles for a student film he has due on Saturday.
Fortunately, the fashion and jewelry districts (and toy, wholesale and flower
marts) are near the police station, so after I had my shots, I went shopping.
I bought some pink silk cord for making a hand-knotted a rose quartz bead
necklace, some Czech fire polish beads, a formal-length crinoline petticoat (to
wear with my 1840's day dress), red cotton socks, three pairs of gloves (two
purple, one red, in elbow length), and a small buckram frame on which to
construct a hat to wear to theater performances (it will be low to my head so I
won't have to remove it). I had hoped to get a frame or wool felt hood to make
a bonnet for my 1840’s dress, but those would have been special order items.
I also went into a dress shop, but the proprietor of the store hit on me - very
nicely, but very, very, obviously, so I didn't buy any dresses. If my chapter
members think guys hit on me because I wear alluring dresses, they should have
seen me today in jeans, t-shirt (albeit a girly one) and no makeup but
sunblock. Maybe I’m too friendly with strange guys.
When I got on the subway, I had most of my purchases in a nice hemp
shopping bag, but the petticoat had been stuffed into a black garbage bag. I
had an SLR camera bag on one shoulder and my purse on the other, so I didn't
exactly look like your typical bag lady. It was cumbersome, but at least if I
bumped into people with my garbage bag, I didn't hurt them any.
Saturday, April 26, 2008, 11:04 AM
I didn't make it to the Queen Mary, but a couple of friends from Classy Ladies and Special Mamas and I drove down to Fullerton for tea at the Imperial Tea Room as well as some shopping.
We got one of the last few spaces in the parking lot when we arrived shortly before noon. Since we were scheduled for the 1:15 seating, we had time to browse an antique shop (where I bought a red crystal bead choker [10mm ruby AB Czech glass, for those in the know] for less than what it would cost to make it) and discover that the official Red Hat Society Store was impossibly crowded. I had never seen so much red and purple all at once in my life, and that didn't even take into account the merchandise. Both front and rear cash registers were open, and lines of chatting ladies waiting to make purchases snaked out both front and rear doors. Inside the store, others clustered around the sale racks and accessories. Women entered the dressing rooms and then had to slither back out through crowds to find a friend to either talk them into spending the money on such a dynamite outfit or tactfully tell them it made them look like Barney the Dinosaur.
My friends and I, after struggling a bit and finally finding each other - the Shop isn't very big, but we still kept getting separated and lost - decided to go over for tea. More red and purple. And bling...! I saw grand-duchess-type necklaces and earrings that probably hurt worse than the sparkly, heeled pumps. I should have taken some pictures to show my husband that, in spite of the red and purple that threaten to take over our closet, there are other ladies far more dedicated to the cause than I.
As promised, Sue Ellen was at the tearoom for book signing, and I bought a copy of Sassy, Classy and Still Sparkling while waiting to be seated. As an author myself, I tend to buy books whenever an author makes a personal appearance, but I actually wanted this one. I had a chance to chat with Sue Ellen and Lady Bug (who I want to add to my friends list, but I can't find her!) while I got the book signed. I think I ended up talking more than listening. When I'm excited, I either talk too much or not at all. I told them about my chapter, Special Mamas, and gave each of them my card with pin made from a flat florists' marble (saying "I haven't lost ALL my marbles") attached. I also mentioned my QMB2 groups, Red Hat Special Mamas and Red & Purple Prose. I did listen enough to answer questions about some problems with the QMB2 as well as hear about a new literary group associated with the new RHS store book store.
Tea itself was well organized, although I suspect 45 minutes is not really enough time to allow for chatty ladies to sit down, have a full tea complete with hot savory, sandwiches, scones and sweets, much less give the staff time to clear and reset between seatings. Fortunately, they did not try to completely empty the room before beginning the next seating; they went table by table. Each table would accommodate ten, although the three of us sat with a group of five from Riverside, with two places remaining empty. So instead of there being simply too much food, there was waaay too much food. We each had our own little pot of clotted cream and tiny jar of raspberry jam, and I passed on the sweet course so I could have a second scone with clotted cream and jam. Calorically, I'd have been better off eating the Cadbury fingers and tea biscuits (I'm a life member of Weight Watchers; I know these things), but properly loaded scones are a favorite of mine to which mere cookies, even imported English ones, take a distant second.
Following tea, the three of us waddled back to the RHS store in hopes that enough people would have gone to tea and then on to the Queen Mary that it would be less crowded and a little easier to actually see the merchandise. It was still lively. In fact, it was even more lively, if indeed less crowded. The Birthday celebration was in full swing, featuring a couple of musicians and a couple of scantily-clad pretty boys (a deliberately provocative, sexist remark - see my new photo). One of the young men had a megaphone, and he was having a great time. At one point, he put on a blingy red hat, announced he was going to pimp all the ladies who walked by and encouraged them to dance. A lot of ladies really enjoyed strutting their stuff, while others ducked around behind the garment racks in embarrassment.
I watched most of this while waiting in line to buy my commemorative t-shirt and pin, along with a reusable purple shopping bag similar to the ones most grocery stores offer these days. This particular line edged the refreshment table, which had a giant cake, crudites, croissants, crackers, and who knows what else, but I wasn't even tempted. At least one cake had already been demolished by then, and I could see a few ladies indulging in generous pieces. One lady in Victorianesque attire even strutted the pimp line while eating cake. That's what Red Hatting is about, I think.
By the time the three of us had finished with our purchases, and I had gotten my picture taken with the handsome young men (gotta have my life-size action figures or no one will recognize me), the store had emptied out considerably. At that point, I was able to get close to the sale rack and found some purple slacks. I didn't have anything between jeans and chiffon dresses in purple, so I had been looking for something intermediate. I tried on the size medium, my usual size, but they were ridiculously small, so I held something over the sizeable gap in front and sidled out to get a larger pair. I grabbed L and, just in case, XL, but the large fit beautifully. I had also picked out a velvet velour surplice top in small. I normally wear large in tops if they're junior sizes, or medium in misses, but you never know, and small was the only size left. It fit, though I'd better not go to fancy teas too often.
We finally hit the road about 3:00, and I hadn't gotten a ticket on my car in spite of the fact I'd left it for three hours in a two hour lot. The traffic home was the usual early rush hour crush but nothing worse, and I had a couple of friends to keep me company as I drove. I had a terrific time, even if I did rip off my shoes as soon as I walked through the door of my house, and my halter bra didn't stay on a whole lot longer. I wore my new 10th birthday t-shirt (with a comfy bra underneath) when I went out to get a few necessary groceries later in the evening. I do wonder how the ladies who went on from Fullerton over to the Queen Mary later survived the day, however.
Sunday, April 20, 2008, 11:12 AM
I've been going to teas and other frivolities with my Red Hat lady friends and leaving my men home with frozen pizzas, so I decided it was only right that I should get out the good china and stage a Victorian Tea. My sons, who are twenty-five and twenty-two, respectively, had never before eaten off the Good China. I could have served spaghetti with sauce from a jar, and it would have been special.
I cheated and bought fancy cake slices from the grocery store, which I cut into six pieces each, but I made scones. Normally, a dozen scones would be plenty for five people, but I know my family. Besides, with scones, if you're going to make a dozen, you might as well go ahead and make another dozen, since you've already got the stuff out and made the mess. So I made two dozen scones. I also whipped together equal parts of mascarpone cheese and whipping cream to make a reasonable facsimile of clotted cream.
For the savory course, I made egg salad and chicken salad sandwiches. When I explained that I wasn't going to trim the crusts because we didn't have any servants to eat them, my husband assured me that he would eat them, because he was starving. At any rate, I just sliced each sandwich into thirds, arranged them on a plate and put them on the bottom rack of the three-tiered tea server. The scones went in the middle, and the cakes, along with a few macaroons, went on top.
I didn't realize when I bought the server that it was missing one of its rubber feet, and my husband tried vainly to repair the lack; a bandaid didn't do the trick, I know, but I'm not sure what else he tried. We finally just left it, and since I passed my precious plates, it wasn't a big problem. I will get a replacement at the hardware store, maybe even replace all four. Maybe they'll have an interesting color.
This did provide an interesting source for conversation during tea, however, since we discussed elastomers as well as the great enjoyment we derived from sitting down to a special tea. We also briefly wondered what kind of wild party our triglycerides were throwing, but didn't spend much time on that subject.
My younger son tried egg salad sandwiches for the first time and discovered he liked them, and my dad ate five scones. Of the two dozen I made, I had only seven left. My older son got his finger stuck in the handle of the cup and spilled tea all over the tablecloth, but I have a vinyl pad to protect the table, so no harm done.
Afterward, my husband helped me with as much of the cleanup as he felt was safe, but he left me with the task of washing the china. I wanted it that way, since my husband, indeed, all my guys, are fairly clumsy. Normally, I'm happy to put up with a certain amount of breakage and things done differently than I would do them just so I don't have to do them myself, but not with my good china. Not when I know that it would cost $36 to replace a teacup at replacements.com.
Saturday, April 19, 2008, 1:53 PM
In junior high and high school, I was overweight and unpopular and
didn't have a lot of thought to spare for matters of personal beauty
beyond washing my face occasionally and repining over pimples. I did
once have some lipstick I liked: it went on blue and turned pale pink.
But I was twenty before I started using makeup.
I developed a
crush on a guy in my physics class in college, joined Weight Watchers,
dropped forty pounds and in general went through the self-discovery
phase most girls had passed through long since. I bought blusher,
lipstick, eyeshadow (lots of eyeshadow) and mascara. I couldn't find
foundation light enough for my skin, because in those days, girls were
supposed to have a "healthy" tan. I found laying out in the sun boring,
and I hated the sun in my eyes; there were limits to what I'd do for
The young man in my physics class, being a proper
geek, remained totally oblivious (or, at least, seemed to), but I
started attracting attention. By the time I was twenty-two, I realized
that the kind of shy geek who appealed to me would never approach, so
when I fixed my sights on a likely candidate, I approached him. We celebrated our thirtieth anniversary last year, but that's another story.
an engineer married to an engineer, I had sufficient money in my
twenties to indulge in department store beauty preparations and makeup.
I basically fell victim to the first helpful cosmetics consultant to
accost me when I ventured timidly into that department in Robinson's,
and remained loyal to Borghese for a number of years. I did somewhat
guiltily betray that trust when I snuck over to the Clinique counter to
buy opaque makeup to protect my skin from sun exposure.
stranger had once complimented me on my lovely skin and commended me
for not sunbathing (eternal blessings on him!). At that point, I
decided I could never get more than a second-rate tan, but I could be
first-rate fair. I had always worn hats any time I'd be outdoors for
any length of time, and I started buying the best sun protection
lotions as they were introduced. Titanium dioxide, PABA, PABA-free,
SPF-15, then 30, and now 50.
After my kids were born, I stopped
wearing makeup. I was lucky if I had time to take a shower, and I never
got enough sleep. Makeup had no place in my life. I pared my beauty
routine down from special soap, toner, moisturizer, a weekly mud
facial, and ten-minute daily makeup to an occasional wash with milder
soap, and moisturizer. I'd add sunblock if I actually got to leave the
house. I also regained all the weight I had lost and a little bit more.
forty-nine, I was a wreck. I was overweight and had developed rosacea
with facial edema so that I looked like a boiled sharpei. That was the
year my mother had her stroke, and my father ended up accompanying her
to the hospital in a second ambulance because his implanted
defibrillator hit him (turned out he was suffering from a hyperthyroid
condition). As I cared for my parents, I couldn't help but consider
that they are only twenty-two years older than I am. I didn't want to
be as old as they were when I got to that age. When I had a pipe burst
upstairs in my house later that year, it turned out to be a blessing in
We had gone out of town for a couple of days, so when
we got back, the damage was considerable. Ceilings had fallen in, the
floor was an inch and a half deep in water (the living room carpet
undulated like a water bed as I walked across it), and water cascaded
down in my kitchen like a waterfall. We were out of our house for
almost six months, and I not only got a whole new interior with mostly
new furniture, I also got a new body.
The suite hotel we stayed
in had a workout room, and between that and the appetite suppressing
side effects of the antidepressant (why would I need an antidepressant,
you ask) I started taking, I lost forty pounds over that six months.
Then Olay sent me a sample of its Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum.
like the free cigarettes the tobacco companies sent to the soldiers in
WWII. They get you addicted and build brand loyalty. I confess. I am
addicted to Olay. My granny used Oil of Olay, which came in a glass
bottle in those days. It was pink. I thought of it as "Oil of Old
Lady." Now Olay has, like everyone else, proliferated into an
overwhelming array of products such that I wish there were an American
Standard of Testing and Materials-type handbook available. How many of
these things do you need? Can you create an explosion by mixing the
wrong ones together? What's the difference between serum and
moisturizer, and do I really need to put both of those on before adding
At any rate, I have quite an involved beauty
routine. Twice a week, I sand my face and neck with some orange-scented
scrubbing stuff and then add a clear activator that makes it warm and
does something to exfoliate the skin. I then wash this off. To get all
the little (plastic, I'm assuming) microbeads off, I pretty much have
to take a shower even after I've plied a washcloth multiple times. Mind
you, I had to wash my face - with an Olay facial cloth - before
starting the sanding process.
After my skin is nicely dry, I
apply the layers for the day. I start with eye serum, gently applied in
a circular motion using my ring fingers (because they are the weakest
fingers), outward on the upper lid and inward on the lower lid. Then I
tap the lower lid with my finger tips to stimulate the collagen, or
whatever it is that's supposed to make my lower lids look less wrinkly.
After this, I slap on the above-mentioned regenerating serum all over
my face, throat and chest (I've got cleavage, and I'm not afraid to use
it). At this point, I have several moisturizers from which to choose,
but they all contain sunblock of varying degrees. I apply one. After
the moisturizer, if I'm not already so tired of the whole business I
quit right there, I get out the sculpting cream.
This comes in a
ruby red jar with a silver lid, which is probably because it costs
nearly thirty bucks, and Olay wants to make you think you're getting
value for your money. It's still going in the recycle bin when it's
empty. I scoop out a small amount of cream and hold it between my
fingers as if I'm praying (please make me look ten years
younger...heck, make it twenty) to warm it up. I dab dots of it in my
problem areas, smooth it out and then follow the brief facial massage
routine that comes with the instructions.
Now, presumably, I'm
ready to apply makeup. I sometimes even do, but very little. I've
discovered that liquid or cream foundation, even stuff specially
designed for "mature" skin tends to settle in my pores, giving me a
dotted-swiss appearance. If I use concealer to tone down the slight
ruddiness from the rosacea and apply foundation over it, I can look
like I've been done in house paint. In general, I use cream blusher
(very little) on my cheekbones, light mineral powder, eye shadow (in
purple-ish, ruddy brown, pink, cream: all colors found in nature),
brown mascara on my upper lashes only, brown eyebrow pencil, and Burt's
Bees Guava lip gloss. Done properly, I don't look like I'm wearing
makeup. I just look like me, only better.
This gets me through
the day, unless I'm going to spend all day outdoors, in which case I
skip the sculpting cream and bathe in SPF 50 sunblock. I dust it with
the mineral powder to make it less sticky, but I may or may not do
anything about additional makeup.
My bedtime routine is more
simple. I start by washing my face with disposable cleansing cloths,
then use night time eye cream applied with the same circles and taps as
the daytime serum. Sometimes I use special eye pod thingies, when I
remember I have them. Then I use a light night cream on my face and a
richer one on my neck and chest. Hooray. Floss, brush, bed.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 1:03 PM
I've been having so much fun with Red Hatting and so comparatively few opportunities to strut my garish finery that I decided to join a second chapter (third if you count my own Special Mamas chapter, which is about as inactive in real life as it is here). One of my friends -let's call her Sweet Lady - happened to mention the name of a second chapter she belonged to, so I very properly initiated a query through the Chapter Search feature.
The first time I used the chapter search, I got a response from the queen in three or four days, but this time I heard nothing. When I mentioned to Sweet Lady that I had queried her queen, she was delighted, and told me about an event one of the women was planning and suggested I call to find out if I, as a prospective member, could attend. So I called the member (call her Bitty), who was happy to add my name to the list of attendees, conditional on my sending her a check for the appropriate amount.
The next bit becomes more tangled with conjecture; that same evening my friend Sweet Lady got a call from Queenie chewing her out for giving me her phone number, something she hadn't done. All I knew about Queenie was what she posted at Chapter Search, and I was able to reassure Sweet Lady that she hadn't slipped up and given out info her queen didn't want disseminated. I certainly had not called Queenie during her sacred dinner hour. But at that point, Sweet Lady realized that Queenie knew I was interested in joining the chapter and suggested that she should bring me along with another prospective member to an initiation tea Queenie had planned for Monday. She thought she had this all clear with the queen, and in fact checked her emails later and verified it. She also realized she hadn't actually given the queen my name, so Queenie must have gotten it from a different source. Either she got my email and forgot, or more likely, Bitty called her (alas, during dinner) to let her know of my interest in the outing.
So on Monday, I drove to Sweet Lady's house, and we walked over to her neighbor's - the other prospective member - and then carpooled to Queenie's house. As soon as Queenie answered the door, it was obvious something was wrong by look of abject horror and displeasure on her face. She told me outright she hadn't been expecting me as well as a few other things that the sheer mortification of the moment has caused me to forget. She grudgingly reset her table (spilling milk and breaking a couple of dishes in her annoyed haste), and in general grumbled around for awhile making everybody feel very uncomfortable. She informed me she had been expecting me to make my query through Hatquarters (but I did! Two weeks ago!).
By the time we sat down to table, she had pretty much regained her equanimity, and she even apologized to me at the end of the repast. I tried to make light of it, saying that I have Asperger Syndrome myself and hate to have things sprung on me unexpectedly. I didn't say that I hoped I'd never been so rude (though I may have been without realizing it). I have had unexpected guests show up, however, and I've always tried to make them feel welcome. I've also had plenty of experience with surprises: you do when you have children.
Now I probably figure in this queen's subconscious memory as the rude person who called her during dinner (even though I don't have her phone number or even email address) and crashed her tea party. She is probably also mortified by her reception of me. For my part, I already have one obsessive queen to deal with, and I'm not sure I want to take on another.
Perhaps for the time being, I'll just try a Company of Loose Women instead of a second chapter: get together informally with Red Hatters I like whatever chapter they happen to belong to. Nae King! Nae Queen! Nae Laird! We wilna be fooled again!