Just Reflecting — Mirror Mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who’s the fairest of them all?

Reflecting Beauty
Reflecting Beauty

Beauty needn’t even be skin deep. For the right price, it can be painted on.

My friend and I had just malled our pocketbooks at Borders, and were strolling down the breezeway looking for probable cause for further malling, when we came upon this cosmetic store. Mirrored from top to bottom and back again, it made my little heart pitty-patter. I scanned the whole store, then chose to shoot this mirrored pillar.

From this angle one can see the makeup kiosks, and the mirrored cosmetic booths where one can sit while consultants make her beautiful free of charge, then offer to sell her the means to duplicate that beauty at home. Of course the necessary makeup costs a small fortune, and the salesperson consultant hands over the little $250.00 bag with the disclaimer, “You may not get exactly the same results at home.” Of course not. At home you won’t have the enhanced lighting, or the fawning, or — most likely — the expertise to duplicate the experience.

The consultants hurried toward my friend and I thinking they had two more suckers customers at hand, but my friend and I knew that it wasn’t the place for us. We only wanted to mall our pocketbooks, not murder them.

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We have sadly come to the end of Reflect This. It has been a fun week. I am sorry I had a break down in the middle of it. The next time I offer up a challenge I will make certain to check both my and OC’s calendars to assure I have access to the time necessary to do such things well. To all who played with me. Thank you. Please put your names in Mr. Linky to advertise your last Reflect This post.

Mirror, Mirror

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala …

… one of the greenest places on God’s green Earth. I went there in 2002 with my pastor and a group of other wonderful people. Ours was a medical mission. I have few first aid skills, so I was put to work fetching, carrying and entertaining the children while their families waited to see the doc, or pharmacist. I also manned the supply room from time to time. Each child was given school supplies, toothbrush, toothpaste and a toy of some kind. Each adult was given a hygiene packet (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, comb, towel, wash cloth).

Our little outreach group also did our fair share to stimulate the economy. We all came home with wonderful treasures. My favorite is this coat.

traditional hand woven pattern

traditional hand woven pattern

I purchased the coat for $20.00 American dollars, which at the time was worth about 160 quetzals (Guatemalan dollars). It is made with a combination of denim and local hand woven cotton.

front

front

back

back

The craftmanship is superb and the detail is exquisite. The coat was made by war widows. Sewing and weaving is how they support their families. The idea was put forward by their local United Methodist Church and space for a store was provided. The woman formed a co-op. They make and sell handcrafted clothing, jewelry, household items (potholders, placemets, table clothes, etc) and art. They have built their own community where they live and work together, using the money from the store to purchase supplies, feed and care for their own families — and do missionary work among those less fortunate than they.

sleeve

sleeve

Years of civil war has left Guatemala with a decimated population. Men and boys were taken by their homes at gun point and forced to join either the national army, or the guerrilla force (depending upon who captured them). Refusing to fight was an automatic death sentence. One was either enemy or ally. There was no neutral ground.

inner pocket detail

The coat is padded and heavy. The likelihood of my ever wearing it in Hawaii is slim. In fact, I believe the last time I wore it was just about a year ago, one chilly night in Friday Harbor, Washington when I walked with OC to the point, where every evening he played his trumpet while the sun set and the moon rose.

I keep the coat because of it’s beauty. Because of the memories it holds. And to remind me how blessed I am to live in the United States where I take things like plentiful food, clean water, electricity, death from natural causes, and my freedom to choose my own course in life for granted.

This post was prompted in part by David McMahon, of Authorblog, who asked: Do you have an article of clothing you haven’t worn for more than a year? And by Mary, The Teach, at Work of the Poet, who hosts, Ruby Tuesday.

Project Black #4 — Tired

The last week before school dismissed for the summer, I found my car in the school parking lot with a flat tire from a nail puncture — the nail in plain view for me to see. I called road service and they changed my tire and had the car ready to run a full hour before quitting time.

After work I took the “nailed” tire straight to our local Goodyear Tire Service Center. I asked the guy at the front desk to fix the flat, and told him we’d been having trouble with a slow leak on another tire for a couple of weeks. I said I suspected the valve stem, and asked him to check it out.

When I returned to get my car the young man at the front desk told me that they’d patched my tire, but I shouldn’t expect it to hold. He said, “Your tires are old, bald, and no longer legal. You need to buy new ones.” I said, “These tires are only a year old, and if they’re in that bad of shape, I’ll be returning them to the place that holds their warranty.”

I asked about the second tire. He told me the valve stem was fine, and if I was losing air, I was losing it through the worn tread. He assured me that my life was in jeopardy driving home.

That evening when OC came home, I told him all this tire talk. He said, “There’s nothing wrong with your tires, but next week when you take it in to Mike (at the Chevy dealership) for the oil change, ask him to take a look.

Well, all week I worried about those dang tires. I fussed. I fumed. I put air in the rear tire three more times (it never went flat, just low), then finally came my Thursday appointment with Mike. “Oil change and check the tires,” I said. Then I left.

Twenty minutes later my phone rang, it was Mike. He said, “About your rear tire on the passenger side — no wonder it won’t hold air — did you know it has a big honkin’ nail in it?” I’d picked up nails in both tires, probably at the same time in the same place, but only one tire went flat. I asked Mike if the tire was worth patching. He responded, “Hell, these tires are almost brand new. Yes, patch it.” I told him what the Goodyear Sales guy had said, “See, that’s the thing about commission sales, they make people lie. You come in here, I can talk you into 20 extra things you don’t need, but why? They aren’t gonna pay me any more for it. Never go to commission shops if you want an honest answer.”

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Anna, of Anna Carson’s Photography, hosts Project Black.

And this week, special thanks to Jeremiah of, My World in Pictures, for inspiring this shot.

OC ‘n’ Quilly Shopkeepers!

A number of people approached me this week and told me I should try to sell my photos. This surprised me greatly, but I did some looking and discovered … I am a fairly talented amateur photographer, but there are plenty of other folks with cameras who are much, much better than I!

Still, it seemed I was being offered an opportunity. How best to take advantage of it? I began by having a chat with OC. Let me tell you something now, I love the man, but he does not bow to my vanities. He told me under no uncertain terms that while I might have the talent to compete with the pros, I didn’t have the education (neither formal nor experiential) or the equipment to enter the fray at any level above 10th sub-basement. Ouch.

Still, there are people who like my stuff, so there must be a market. All I had to do was find it. And I did! Yay! You can find it, too. Just click here.

If you don’t see what you want and have a suggestion, leave it in the comment box or click the email link to the left of the blog just under my photo. Thanks!

Oh! And thanks to Sauer Kraut, OC and I may soon be running a contest that will allow you to win store merchandise! Stay tuned for further developments!

[To my loyal readers: no purchase necessary to enjoy the same great blog content you’ve come to expect from, Just Another Day in … Paradise?]

I’ll Take That As a “No”

A girl-child climbed the three flights of stairs to my apartment on Monday afternoon. She knocked on the storm door and tried to peer through the screen into the house. I stood up from the couch and said hello, startling her. She hadn’t noticed me sitting there.

I walked to the door and asked, “What can I do for you?”

She looked up at me through the screen. Judging by her size, her cunning and her complete lack of guile, I’d say she was about 8 years old. She asked, “Would you like to buy a candy bar?”

I looked down. She had a Nature Valley granola bar in her hands. I was curious. “How much?” I asked.

She said, “Three dollars.”

I said, “Whoa! That’s a lot of money. So, why are you selling the granola bar?”

She looked at me like I was nuts. “For money!”

“Yes,” I agreed. “But is it for something at school or at church?”

She looked confused. “No,” she said.

I decided to try again. “Where did you get the candy bar?” I asked.

“The kitchen,” she answered.

“Hmmm,” I said. “And does your mom know what you’re up to?”

Her eyes grew big and her mouth dropped open. “I gotta go now!” She shouted over her shoulder while clattering down the stairs.