Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Stylish Giveaway

Art by William Adolphe Bouguereau

What's your style?

People with style intrigue me. I don't just mean a sense of fashion, although that can be part of how it's expressed. Style has more to do with confidence, idiosyncrasies, attitude and individuality than with hemlines or wispy bangs.

Over the past few weeks I have interviewed almost 100 women from various backgrounds, between the ages of 19 and 97 years old. We weren't talking about style, but I noticed theirs. Some were gracious and relaxed and others whined and griped. One beautiful woman in her early 40's, wearing elegant, chic clothes, was bitter and unattractive--not a great style. Another woman, hobbled by disease and using a walker, had an easy sense of humor and made me feel comfortable. She had style.

I think personality traits influence style. These are some characteristics that represent the style I'd like to project: Eclectic, interesting, relaxed, genuine, poised, classy, chic, original, smart, youthful, happy, elegant, fashionable.

Some of us camouflage our personal style by projecting someone else's. We dress ourselves up and then feel uncomfortable when our clothes represent the persuasive salesgirls look better than it does our own. Or we know we can't pull off 4-inch heels while pushing a stroller or a grocery cart, and we decide style is for someone else in some other stage of life. But that's wrong. Style is really just expressing yourself visually. Hara Estroff Marano wrote: "Style is optimism made visible. It presumes that you are a person of interest, that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making the effort for."

The Triumph of Individual Style
, by Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor, is one of my favorite books about style. It taught me to see myself with an artist's eye. Another wonderful book is Ten Steps to Fashion Freedom by Malcolm Levene and Kate Mayfield. This book's secret is to become comfortable with your image from the inside out. The Grown-Up Girl's Guide to Style by Christine Schwab convinced me that I could be beautiful at whatever age and whatever body I am in at the moment.

I've got a whole shelf of books on fashion and style. If you comment on this post by Monday at midnight you could win one of them in the new Oma Book Giveaway! Just share a secret of style or fashion.

Here are Ten Fashion Secrets I learned while observing my unsuspecting interviewees:
  1. Wear lipstick and a touch of gloss, and then make sure you smile.
  2. If you use a cane, carry oxygen, use a wheelchair, or whatever, don't let it make you self-conscious. One woman had an exquisite small quilt draped over her walker, which made it almost an accessory! Another woman had a cane which was covered with a colorful collage and then decoupaged. It was a piece of art.
  3. Be enthusiastic about the weather, the project, the walk over, anything! It lifts everyone's spirits to have a breath of fresh air. Then it doesn't matter what you're wearing.
  4. If you're toting a little child, let it show that you're enchanted by him. It's charming to see a mom appreciate her little one. On the other hand, an over-anxious, apologetic mom draws attention to obnoxious antics. (But try to keep him under control.)
  5. Be yourself. If you have a big, flamboyant personality, dress it up! If you're soft and sweet, focus on your femininity.
  6. Wear the colors you love. If green makes your face look washed out, get some green shoes. Have a bright color near your face to draw attention to your eyes.
  7. If you have a bunch of old clothes you love but can't wear for some reason, analyze what gives them that favorite status. Then try to recreate it. For instance, if the way-too-tight gray and green argyle sweater reminds you of your high school colors, buy a green sweater and wear it with your gray pants. If it's the argyle you love, find some argyle socks. Or get a giant teddy bear and let him wear the sweater.
  8. Don't become paranoid about sizes. Buy clothes that fit, and cut out the tags.
  9. Your body is one-of-a-kind. Clothing is mass produced. Your body is not the problem when something doesn't fit right. It's the clothing's fault, not yours. Factor the cost of tailoring into the price.
  10. A good haircut is the most useful and worthwhile accessory you can buy. Some women will pay $100 for a necklace they will wear a few times a year. I wouldn't. But I think it's worth paying a good stylist $100 for something that sits on top of my head, drawing attention to my face, every minute of every day.
OK. Your turn. I want your secrets of style. If you leave a comment by Monday at midnight, you'll be eligible for the Stylish Giveaway!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


A couple of real winners

TravelinOma WordPlay winners are:


Congratulations! Your books are in the mail.

Thanks to everyone for playing. Stay tuned for another giveaway contest!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Take Another Look

Emmie and Jake at Imax

Five things I see differently when I'm around grand kids:
  1. Accessories make any event a party. Umbrella toothpicks, for example.
  2. Food is more sensuous when you squeeze it between all ten fingers.
  3. It's helpful to be short, because people drop lots of cool stuff on the floor.
  4. Losing your dignity in public is totally freeing.
  5. Wearing 3-D glasses lets you see the whole picture with better perspective.
The greatest aid to adult education is hanging out with children. They haven't forgotten how to enjoy life, and this month I've had a lot of good reminders.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wordplay Giveaway

Words, words, words...

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead,
For Goodness' sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

(I found this poem in a book called The English Language by David Crystal.)

Do you ever play with words? Here's a contest that just takes a couple of them. Tell me two words that should rhyme and don't, or two words that do rhyme and shouldn't.

Leave your comment on this post by Monday at midnight, and I'll announce two random winners on Tuesday. The winners will each get a book (with more words to play with!)

Giveaway Details:
I have a whole bookshelf of books that have served their purpose, and need a new home. Once a week I'll have a little contest that matches the category of the book you could win. If you enter (by leaving a comment) I'll put your name in a hat, and if you're lucky, you'll get a book!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Great-Grandpa John Bagley

Photo by Holgen Leue

Great-great Grandpa John Bagley was only eighteen when he left his family in eastern Canada. He joined with the Mormon pioneers to prepare for a trek across the plains from Illinois to Utah.

John was extremely trusted and took the responsibility of caring for a widow and her children in the wagon train. He drove the lead team of nine yoke of oxen into the valley in 1856 when he was just twenty years old. Later, Brigham Young requested that John accompany him in many dangerous situations as a body guard. At the age of 58 he wrote his life story in his own hand, recalling his adventures with Indians, wild animals, cholera, and starvation.

John's Journal

But there is one particular feat John is remembered for.

John had worked in a lumber mill with his father from the time he was a little boy. Four days after his arrival in Salt Lake Valley he started work on what would become six lumber mills in Big Cottonwood Canyon. He helped build roads, haul logs and build silver mines in Alta, and became known quickly for his ability and agility.

Photo: Lake Mary, Brighton, UT Project 365:185/366 Flickr

On July 23, 1857, nine months after John's arrival, 2,600 people (with 500 vehicles and 1,500 animals) gathered at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon for a giant anniversary party. The first pioneers had settled the valley ten years before, and there was a celebration planned ten miles up the canyon in Brighton. The group followed Brigham Young and a long line of dignitaries in carriages and wagons. A marching company of 50 kids between 10 and 12 years old led the way up the canyon, along with a brass band that furnished music for the celebration.

At sunset a bugle summoned the campers to a central elevated spot where Brigham Young addressed them. On the morning of July 24, the flag was unfurled from a giant pine tree, standing on a peak. Prayer was offered, then singing, and afterward cannons roared. The Big Cottonwood Lumber Company, for which John worked, had constructed the road as far as Lake Alice, near Silver Lake, expressly for this occasion. Today there is a small chapel at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, in Brighton, close to where the celebration took place.

Photo by Blozan's Tree Climb

This is how John recalled the day of Celebration:
Brigham Young's tent was near a towering pine tree 100 feet high. That tree was selected as a flag pole for the unfurling of the Stars and Stripes. I had been reared in the timber lands of eastern New Brunswick, America, and was experienced in handling timber and logging, so I was selected by President Young to trim the tree for a flagpole.

Carrying my axe, I climbed to the top of the tree, trimmed the branches and cut the tip so there was a smooth top. I unfurled the flag, and much to the amazement of those below, I stood on my head on the top of the tree!

As I descended, I trimmed the other branches, and when I was among the trees that were not so lofty, I seized the branch of another tree and ape-like, swung from the flag pole and disappeared. The people below thought I had perished and were quite concerned until I finally appeared having made my way through the branches.
John Bagley

He sounds like a great, great-great grandfather to me!

I originally published this post last year, although I've tweaked it a little. You may even see your old comment!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Survival Skills


Ten life skills we learned in the woods:

Who's who?

Every thing's easier with a friend.

Jake sharpens his skills

When you're having fun,
it doesn't seem like work.

Straw relay

Sometimes you have to just suck it up.

Stars in her eyes

It's a big surprise when your kids grow up.

Anna Jo

Cool people are cool in all circumstances.

Oma tent

"There's nothing like having grandchildren
to restore your faith in heredity." ...Doug Larson


You can learn a lot if you ponder what you see.

String together some memories.

A person who smiles is fun to be with.

A walkie-talkie

We can get lost if we don't communicate.

On the path

Hold hands and stay together.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Time Out

Sundial in Tabor, Czech Republic

I often find each day too short for
all the thoughts I want to think,
all the walks I want to take,
all the books I want to read,
and all the people I want to see.
...John Burroughs

Monday, July 14, 2008

Judith Viorst Book

Did you get it? I sent a little gift you'll love!

Don't wait. Just rip it open. It's going to give you an afternoon of fun.

Go for it! I can see you're already planning your day around it!

This is it!

and the Wonderful, Marvelous,
Excellent, Terrific
Ninety Days
Judith Viorst

What do you think?
It's the funniest, truest, most entertaining book
you'll read all summer!

You'll want to give it to every grandmother you know,
especially the ones who've had, or anticipate having
grandkids come to stay for a day, a month, or a year someday.

You'll love it if you have been, or might be the grown kids
who bring the grandkids to stay every-once-a-while.

You'll love it if you ever had a kid or were a kid and visited your grandparents.

This is a book that tells it like it is. It's your own life, written in better prose.
You will suddenly see the joy you knew you were having all along.
You'll recognize wisdom you knew you had gained, and be jealous realizing that
you actually could have written this book!

My gift to you is the fun you will have shopping or searching library shelves for this book, bringing it home, sitting down on a screened-in porch at 9:00 PM, with a tall glass of minted limeaid, and finding all your secret thoughts and emotions written in a way that will make you laugh.

You'll enjoy following your husband around reading him excerpts. You'll wish you could underline parts and send it to your sons and daughters-in-law. You'll forget your mom is already dead, and pick up the phone a couple of times to call and commiserate, and ask if she was ever bugged by your visits.
Then you'll wonder if the visits contributed to her untimely death.
If that's the case, you'll understand that she died happy.

Judith Viorst will be your new best friend. You will see that she understands you perfectly, and you'll want to stalk her just so you can take her out to lunch and visit.
You'll know she wants to hear all about you, because you're soulmates.

This is the gift I'm giving you.
At the store, tell them it was recommended by TravelinOma.
Make it sound official and maybe they'll give you a discount.
Even if they don't, I'll bet they'll wrap it for free.
When you open it, remember it's from me!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Looking Back

Gabi in 1972

She started it all. I was just a babe myself (20-years-old) when I launched my career as a full-time mom. She was eleven days late and I was getting a little grumpy.

Dee came home at 10:00 pm one night, and he was also a little grumpy. Just after we went to bed I had my first labor pain. I laid there and waited a few minutes and, sure enough, another one came. I woke Dee up and said we had to go to the hospital. He said if we went before midnight we'd have to pay for the whole day, and since it might not even be real labor we ought to go back to sleep. And he did. Immediately.

This is an example of what not to say to a woman in labor. The tears started as I watched the clock. What if I just got up and drove myself to the hospital? It was only a few blocks away. Maybe I'd just walk. Yeah. . . that would show him. . . finally I woke him up again and he took me seriously. We sat in the hospital parking lot until midnight, and then went in.

Natural childbirth was the in thing, and I was definitely in. She came folded in half, bum first, and as her lower half arrived in the world, her lungs expanded and she took a breath. Since her head was still inside, she sucked in everything but air. The cord was around her neck and the doctor had me panting while he loosened it quickly, and then suddenly, at exactly 7:00 am, I was a mother. A nurse whisked our newborn away, scooped out her tiny mouth and immediately put her on oxygen, before rushing her down the hall in an incubator.

That part of the experience was anything but natural. She and I had been very close for nine and a half months, and there was a huge wrench in my heart as we were separated by walls and elevators and information. A few hours later we got the word that she was OK, but it wasn't until about 4:00 in the afternoon that I got to see her. She changed my life.

Gabi in New York City with Sistas

And she grew up to be a Chorus Girl!

Gabi in Chorus Line

"One singular sensation,
Every little step she takes.
One thrilling combination,
E-v'ry move that she makes."

"One smile and suddenly
Nobody else will do."

"You know you'll never be lonely
With you-know-who. . ."

Looking back, she was one of the best moves I ever made!

Boy's Noise

"Too-oo-ooo. . ."

I love little boys. And I love the sound of trains. A combination of the two made my day. First we read the book. Then I told them about our real train.

Sam doesn't breathe between words. We drove to the JSM Building and went down into the underground parking garage. "Isthisasubwaytrain?Arewegoingonasubwaytrain?" (now that you get the idea of Sam Speak, I'll type it normally.)

"The train's outside," I explained. "We're going to go through a beautiful building first." "A beautiful train-station-building?" asked Luke. They ran down the long hall giggling with excitement about the beautiful train-station-building. The gorgeous chandeliers, pillars, and furnishings failed to impress. It was only a half block to the Traxx station, but it was almost 100° and took "too long, Oma. It's taking too, too long."

Sam and Luke (twin 4-year-olds) arrive at the Traxx station

The first two minutes of the wait went by slowly. "When is the train coming, Oma? Is the train coming yet, Oma? Oma Oma Oma OMA When is the train coming, Oma?"

Sam and Luke lay on the sidewalk at the Traxx Station

The next five minutes went even slower. "I'm so firsty, Oma." "It's too hot, Oma." But finally we heard the Too-oo-ooo! We found our seats and watched out the window. "Is that a strut-tion site, Oma? Look at all the cranes, Oma! We're on the switch tracks, Oma. . ."

Luke lounges in the lounge car.

Five minutes into the ride Luke was laying, exhausted on the seat. "When is this ride going to be done, Oma? It's too, too l-o-n-g." "I'm so firsty, Oma," said a withering Sam.

Ah-h-h, root beer!

Our table was next to the giant cafe window, which looked out towards the Traxx tracks. Just as they finished their chocolate cream pie Sam heard the familiar Too-oo-ooo, and shouted, "Lukey! It's the train!" Quick as a whistle, four little chocolate hand prints decorated the glass.

Luke and Rocket. Sam and Blue.

Snuggled with their blankies, they listened to my favorite rendition of What Does the Train Say? Then it was off to bed. A bit of tousling encouraged me to lay down with them. As they drifted down the track to Dreamland, I heard another little boy noise. Toot...toot,toot, t-o-o-t.

"Hey, are you guys potty-trained?"
"Train? What train?"
"You have a one-track mind."

"Track! What track?"

The aroma made me think I was in a cattle car.
I love little boys!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rocky Times

Sam scales a boulder.

Not everything went smoothly for the little band of pilgrims.
Challenges were everywhere.

Girls don't always have fun.

Contentions arose.

Jake felt sick.

The cholary struck.
Retching was a common sound.

Mac was sick

Fevers ran rampant.

Miggs looked sick.

Dysentery weakened the bowels of the strongest men.

Old man of the woods, hobbling after a night in a tent.

The rheumatiz afflicted the oldest pioneers.

Did you get your tetanus shot?

Lockjaw became a concern after a whittling accident,
and a rock skidding incident.

The woods held unseen terrors.

This little girl's hair curled before our very eyes.
You've heard of scared straight?
What could cause the opposite?

We don't know what happened to this guy.
He couldn't bring himself to speak about it.

He went into the woods like this,
And came out like this.

We actually think he was scalped.

All was not perfect, but we persevered.