Marche aux Puces, St-Ouen de Clingancourt…from Paris to Provincetown, circa 1920
Well, there you have it, Darlings’ this is me pondering! For sixteen years, I have pondered retail…sometimes I am fully clothed and other times I choose to let it all hang out, or down, as the case may be. It is a tricky business this retail nonsense. I liken it to owning a polo pony that needs exercising and the finest food around…maybe that pony wins the race and maybe not. One of my mother’s favorite terms was “it’s a crap shoot.” Coming from Nevada, this phrase has a totally different meaning than potty language. For sixteen years, I haven’t really come to any true sense of it all. And, frankly, it matters not whether I am fully clothed, for any of it to make sense. So for the moment, I continue shopkeeping.
The world is generally all a crap shoot. Sadly, Dora (my mother) is long gone, but I can only imagine what she might make of Trump and the cast of characters seeking to control the country. It is times like these I wish I could see her sitting at that formica kitchen table in my childhood home. I long to see her stir her fourth cup of coffee with it’s ample spoonfuls of sugar and cream. I long to hear her take on the election, on my polo pony of a store, on the cost of a movie ticket or, for that matter, the cost of her pack of Marlboros. Such a sage and such a pisser!
So…what you want is news of the store. Tomorrow we will host Heather Haase with her magical collection of necklaces made with only the very tastiest of gems gathered from India, Tibet, Thailand, and other exotic travels. This is Heather’s second visit. Each time she sends us a box of treasures, we swoon. I don’t need to tell you Miss Rita Rose has already selected the best of the bunch! I saw her sneak a fine necklace under that dog bed of hers. Do you suppose she has plans of purchase or might she think it is her due?
Then…FINALLY….a last ever Pajama Party on May 1st. You have begged, pleaded, cajoled and finally I have listened. But I can promise you there will NEVER be another! At least not at 6 Birch. So head on in for coffee, donuts, bargains, and a true chance to wander the streets in your bedclothes! The whole store is included in the sale…this is not dregs from the dreaded basement. This is not dusted off, tired merchandise…this is good stuff! And good stuff cheap enough for you to roll out of your bed…no need to wear eye liner or mascara…just come in early! We will pour the coffee…the doughnuts are your doing but napkins will be provided!
In case you’re wondering, the painting is a favorite of mine and is in my most favorite bedroom at my friend John’s Provincetown home. I know all of you are thinking it might just be me. I also think that when I wake up to see her staring across from the foot of my bed.
Anyway the Pajama Party will be an event you don’t want to miss!
One of my absolute favorites…I’ve been using this foot cream myself for years. In fact, the number one reason I stock it in the store is so I never run out! You can buy it immediately in my online store….click here!
…I am having so much fun doing these!
Santa Maria Novella foot cream from Joanne Rossman on Vimeo.
House For Sale…Needs Some Work
This is it, my Darlings! Were I just a bit more foolish (is that possible) I would have scooped this baby up. Knowing full well I made a pact with myself that I would no longer do fixer-uppers…houses or humans.
I am ashamed to say that months have passed since I spotted this gem in Tuscarora, Nevada on last October’s road trip to the desert I so love. If you have not been to this part of the world…drop everything, pack a pair of Levis, your best ever boots, and head West! I vowed I would write this blog upon my return and then life took hold and it was Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then New Years and here we are smack-dab in the middle of a bitter cold January.
Ghost Town Getaway
This sweet dream 0f a house was my lodging in Eureka, Nevada! Story goes it is haunted, which suits me just fine. Any house with spirits is my sort of house. Eureka, Nevada straddles Highway 50 touted as “the loneliest road in America.” A perfectly delicious highway surrounded by Nevada desert, high mountain ranges, and wee small ghost towns. One of the best ever grilled cheese sandwiches, consumed by yours truly, was in a small diner in Austin, Nevada…one of these little ghost towns. This tiny blue gem, shown above, is called the Eureka Doll House and that it truly was. Should you be lucky enough to be out west and should you need lodging, if in fact, you’re in Eureka…head to the Doll House for one of the best nigh’s rest you will ever have.
A Road Trip Rainbow
Sometimes it’s hard to capture magic when whipping along in a rental car at speeds we rarely use here in the East. There it was…a beautiful rainbow tilted sideways and held up by the Nevada desert. The air that day smelled of sage, a bit of pine and the moisture of dry land that rarely has a storm pass through. This is where my small house will be, way off over there to the left, just near the base of that mountain. Pop by anytime you’re on Highway 50…I will pour scotch or perhaps whiskey…more in keeping with the Wild West. It is times and travels like these that make me wonder what I am doing with my East Coast life.
Happy New Year, all you dear folks…the store still survives, I didn’t head for the desert, and I do continue to hold court at 6 Birch Street…though Nevada does have its hold on me!
The Last Days of Summer
August spun past me and Miss Rita Rose. So many plans for a month off….books stacked up, movies to see, dinner guests to entertain. The luxury of a full month (without pay, might I add) can easily be squandered. Before I knew it, it was the fifteenth, the month nearly gone…one book read, one movie seen, no one entertained!
But that Rita Rose knows how to use up the days! She wore herself silly on the Riveria. I sent over her French translation book with a complete wardrobe of bathing suits suitable for a worldly pug. I, on the other hand, had a rather quiet August. Oh yes…there were the five days in New York City shopping for the store (more on that later) and eating out at chic little places where the noise level made it nearly impossible to talk…so I simply ate and drank.
Now I am back! Folks have popped by the store with their own tales of August. One visitor, who told me of her life, also asked me “Does Elvis shop here?” and then she told me about her marriages (now, having had two under my belt, I can relate to marriage when it is in the plural sense). She, whose name I never got, told me she had four husbands…well, maybe three, but my favorite husband, she said, was my mother’s second husband…I slept with him when I was 16!
If ever I question why I have a store and what on earth I am doing with this one life and why, at my advanced age, I am not playing bridge or taking a cruise (aside from the fact I don’t like boats, have no interest in being on deck with others my age, and haven’t a clue how to play bridge), I do wonder at times about the past fourteen years of shop nonsense. Then in pops a woman who clearly knows Elvis and slept with her mother’s second husband when she was sixteen. Honey…give me a store any time, no matter if it makes money or not, I adore the adventures of it all to say nothing of the stories, real or imagined!
The Sum of August
There you have it folks! A porch glider, a stack of reads, and a favorite pug and all of August to make fine work of that glider. I have tossed about since the last blog, back in April, what to write…the world has given this old girl lots of material, much of it disturbing and not quite laughable.
As you all know, August is the month I pretend to be French…I close the store for the whole month. It is a month off to regroup, make scarves, hangers, and clothes for the store. It is a month to eat and cook and cook and eat. A month to travel for those two or three day-trips one, of which, will be Gloucester, then a long weekend in North Haverhill, NH to visit the boys who once owned Gusto. We will laugh and eat and talk about aging, which will cause us to drink. Then I am off to NYC for the Gift Show at the Javits. Back from NYC and off to Provincetown to visit John for a few days.
Rita Rose has her own schedule…I overheard her talking to Kirby, her lean and handsome mutt down the street. Their plans for August involve an uber driver, the rental of a little beach cabin along the coast of Maine, and a whole series of Flamenco dance lessons. I have made the wee Flamenco dress that fits her slim hips then flares into layers of ruffles, each layer hand-sewn with a bit of bling. Rita Rose also has her stack of reading during August…she has worked her way through Fifty Shades of Pug. Way too racy for my girl, though she is hanging out with Kirby and Flamenco dancers… who am I to stop that little vixen!
We wish you a safe, happy August filled with too many calories, a few cocktails, and a good slather of #70 sunblock. See you in September with wondrous tales and fresh, new merchandise that I just know you will not be able to resist!
Rita Does April in Style
Looks to me like Rita Rose has the right idea! As I write, the weather is mixed…a little rain, a little snow, some wind. It’s bloody well into April and still flurries! Ah well, most happy folks will say…it will NEVER stick, it’s April after all. I try hard to NEVER use the word NEVER when it comes to weather.
I have gone off the deep end. Perhaps it was too much winter. Maybe it was not enough scotch. Either way, I hired a personal trainer once a week. He arrives with all sorts of equipment in his little duffle bag: boxing gloves, rubber bands, and long elastic things that have handles and create such torture for my sagging upper arms. Yesterday he arrived with a scale that not only told me what the bad news was but also gave me my body fat index! The numbers on both items were daunting. I recalled each and every pound of butter I ate over the month of February and March…dreadful. The last time I weighed this much I was nine months pregnant! So now I am on a diet. Damn! The one good bit of a bonus is this trainer is kind and he is cute as a button and he is generous to a fault. He tells me I am doing great when I can barely get off the floor! So he lies…I wouldn’t want it any other way.
It wasn’t enough to get a trainer once a week but I have signed up for a basic drawing class. Now mind you, I am not going to leave 6 Birch Street and head to the south of France and create art any time soon. After last night’s first class, I left a humbled person. As I recall, I may have crawled out on my belly to get to the car!
I need a teacher that stands in front of this basic learner, holds up a #2b pencil and says,”This is a pencil. We will work tonight on what can be done with this pencil.” I mean we are talking basics here! Instead there were two still life set-ups involving apple, apple wedges, two pears on a plate, one round grapefruit. After three hours of drawing an apple, three wedges of cut apple, and a plate that looked remarkably similar to a frisbee (I avoided the grapefruit), I ended up with dreck.
I shan’t quit but I thought of crying and I was stunned by just how long three hours can be when sitting before you is a lovely red apple that has cast shadows I can’t seem to capture with my #2b pencil. I will keep all of you posted on the size of my ego, the width of my hips, and that nasty fat index number…should these change any time soon, you will be the first to know!
My Basement Cellar Door…No Way Out!
Here we are at March first! Daylight Saving Time begins in seven days…the first day of spring is a mere nineteen days from now! There is hope, folks…but don’t put away those snow shovels, the long underwear, the snow boots, or the grippers we attach to same. Just imagine the spring we might have if the snow ever melts! I seem to have lost all sense of anything green and growing other than the mold on my leftovers of all those meals I have cooked during this endless, tedious winter!
I long, just like each of you, to walk out my front door wearing only a skimpy frock, a pair of flip-flops, my hair in pigtails, and a beach bag thrown over my shoulder. Lovely image (except the pigtails!). Sadly, for now, I layer up to wander out. I waddle with the weight of carbs, of wool, of down parka, and weariness of winter.
This weekend, we bid a sad good-by to our wonderful neighbor, The Boston Cheese Cellar. I can’t begin to tell you what this means to a retailer, to Birch Street, and to Roslindale in general. The loss of a merchant is akin to losing a member of one’s distant family. I know it sounds dramatic, but drama is what I feel when there is snow banking my world and retail on the street is soft with few places to park. Folks have hunkered down and with good reason! I want to thank those of you who come in my store to say hello, to shop, and to pass the time. I love your brave, happy, frost-bitten faces! Thank you from all of us on Birch Street.
What’s to Be Said?
Two weeks ago, when I took this shot, I was stunned to see my front garden become a snow farm! Needless to say, this pile has grown larger, just like my hips, as I rapidly eat my way through winter. There is something slightly mad about us New Englanders who dash to the market once the mention of a storm is whispered. I am no different! I stand in front of the shelves of pasta pondering which might be THE perfect one, and I don’t really even like pasta! I lose myself at the beef tenderloin counter when really I consider myself more a veggie than a carnivore. I buy bags of ready-made cookies and then dash home and bake my, now famous, Chocolate Whiskey cake from Cowgirl Cuisine (page 253 should you be lucky enough to own this gem of a cookbook). I have made stews, soups, curries, and pineapple upside-down cake. I have laid in a larder of butter, cream, and all sorts of cheeses. There is only one of me but it appears, if I continue, there might be enough calories consumed for two of me!
Last week, I drove down one of our former two-lane streets. Cars parked on both sides; snow spilling over mounds of suspiciously auto shaped sculptures. Clearly some folks gave up digging out. Do these brave people walk to work (we all know the T isn’t functioning that well) or are they off in Florida sitting on the beach? Perhaps they are still in their car and might be found during the spring thaw that should start sometime near the 4th of July or a bit later.
What I did see, as I drove carefully down that narrow street, were cleared-out parking places containing not cars but an odd assortment of three-legged chairs, crappy lawn furniture, a table or two…the spaces looking very much like an impromptu picnic. Sometimes there are strollers (without the little nippers) or a trunk that could well be filled with the ex-wife’s belongings. I marvel that folks can get to their basements for such a supply of street sculpture! Having dug out my own treasured spot just beyond this pile of vile snow pictured above, I wouldn’t dare to block it from another’s use. What if someone needs a spot for an urgent drop-off? Let’s be kind folks to one another…we are all near tears, our snow shovels are worn and ragged, our ice dams are leaking, our world is growing smaller…let it not grow meaner, please! We are all survivors of a nasty winter, and it ain’t over yet!
How Sexy Can a Furnace Exhaust Be?
Just now I became the man I once dreamed of marrying! Another great adventure on the road to survival…in a winter that is well beyond imagination. Now mind you, I have married twice, and I dare say neither Jim nor Bruce would have hung out the dining room window with snow shovel in hand clearing that damn vent. Last week, I wedged myself into hip-deep snow wishing to reach this wee vent. Today, as the snow level topped the window sill, I figured it out! Another notch into the survival belt of a damsel no longer in distress.
I sent this image to my dear friend John Ross, and he suggested I have a wedding and marry myself! He has volunteered to be a bridesmaid…such a clever man…I believe I might make him my Maid of Honor! I will be certain to have the best ever frocks for both of us. I shall wear winter white…it is never too late to be a virgin slightly used. John will wear some frilly thing with an off-the-shoulder neckline and a pair of snappy open toed 6-inch heels. We will, no doubt, create quite a stir…one of the first ever “brides” who was also her own “groom”!
I know those of us lucky enough to live in Boston are up to our eyeballs in snow, snow images, snow stories, and just plain snowiness…if there is such a word! I love New England and need to remind myself (as I swill back a thimble full of single malt) how lucky I am to live so near Paris. I will swill back another swallow and remind myself of all the truly skilled medical folks working here should I need them, and I will remind myself after the third swallow of that single malt scotch just how lucky I am not to be living in a drought! It is the small wonders of life that we need to all savor. Sometimes it helps to savor those wonders when you’re in a cottage on some warm beach located on some lovely island off the coast of a tropical place. But…dear friends, we are a lucky lot here in New England. I can only imagine that many Californians would give their eye teeth for our abundant supply of snow/water. Question is…how can we send it to them?
The Coat in Question
One day, I wore a hand-me-down teddy bear coat. I also wore brown sturdy shoes with crepe soles that captured the lint off our shag carpet in the living room at 1065 Locust. On that day, when I wore the brown fuzzy coat that once belonged to Sandra Hesse and those chunky brown shoes, I turned eight. It was January…a cold snow fell the night before on the gray cement where I stood in my practical shoes and teddy bear coat while my mother, with a cigarette dangling out of the corner of her mouth, took this picture of me with her square Brownie Hawkeye.
The oil furnace in our living room roared into action that day while Ty Cobb and Marian Bruckner ate birthday cake in our kitchen with its pine walls. Was this the cake my Aunt Roma decorated using a storybook doll as its centerpiece or a sheet cake? I can guess it was a vanilla sheet cake with thick chocolate icing. I can also guess my hair was set in “rags” the night before, which made my stick-straight hair a fuzz of ringlets for this birthday celebration. I can guess that I was skinny and had a crush on Ty Cobb. I can guess I wanted a dog just like Marian Bruckner’s German Shepard whose name was Rex.
How young I was then, but how is it I can still smell the mustyness of that coat and the smoke from that Camel cigarette on a bitter cold January day in Reno, Nevada.