• A midlife coming-of-age story. You'll laugh, you'll cry. You'll quit your job and buy an RV. At Amazon.com.

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Review of Home by Marilynne Robinson

    HomeHome by Marilynne Robinson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I loved Gilead by Marilynne Robinson so much. The review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

    But with Home, I had a different experience. I wasn't compelled through most of the book. At about the three-quarter mark, things started to happen and I felt my interest quicken. But here's a summary of my impressions, and my apologies to those who loved it so much they recommended it to me:

    1. I was disappointed to see this other, peevish, nasty side of Rev. Ames.
    2. I didn't like the Rev. Boughton very much at all.
    3. Jack is tedious and pathetic.
    4. Glory almost breaks free but then doesn't.

    Robinson really makes me wait for it, building my conflict between compassion and resentment for Jack. And just when I lose faith in him, there's a scene where the old misogynist/bigot Rev. Boughton asks to see Jack and his brother together in his room, and Jack insists Glory be included. As if he sees her as an equal to the men, rather than just the servant her father expects.

    In this, I felt Jack himself was a Rorschach test for the reader, in that while he seems almost feral, a man born without skin with which to hide himself from the world, easily wounded and always untrusting, you want to abandon him, but can you? If so, who are you? What are your values - what are your limits?

    So now Glory has decided to stop being codependent with her "fiancé", and switch her ministrations and self-sacrifice to her dying father and her feral brother. This is an arc? This is growth? What is Robinson's meaning, at the end of the story, when Glory decides to stay in a town she has said she hates, in a house she agrees to preserve as a monument/mausoleum to the family? It can only be read as failure to respect oneself in favor of service to others! This troubles me deeply.

    I apologize for the length of this next excerpt, but I have to reproduce it, because it's so telling:

    "(Glory) had tried to take care of (Jack), to help him, and from time to time he had let her believe she did. That old habit of hers, of making a kind of happiness for herself out of the thought that she could be his rescuer, when there was seldom much reason to believe that rescue would have any particular attraction for him. That old illusion that she could help her father with the grief Jack caused, the grief Jack was, when it was as far beyond her power to soothe or mitigate as the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. She had been alone with her parents when Jack left, and she had been alone with her father when he returned. There was a symmetry in that that might have seemed like design to her and beguiled her with the implication that their fates were indeed intertwined. Or returning herself to that silent house might simply have returned her to a s state of mind more appropriate to her adolescence. A lonely schoolgirl at thirty-eight. Now, there was a painful thought.

    "She recalled certain moments in which she could see that Jack had withdrawn from her and was looking through or beyond her, making some new appraisal of her trustworthiness, perhaps, or her usefulness, or simply and abruptly losing interest in her together with whatever else happened just then...She found no consistency in these moments, nothing she could interpret. He was himself. That is what their father had always said, and by it he had meant that Jack was jostled along in the stream of (the family's) vigor and purpose and their good intentions, their habits and certitudes, and was never really a part of any of it. He had eaten their food and slept beneath their roof, wearing the clothes and speaking the dialect of their slightly self-enamored and distinctly clerical family..."

    God! Who hasn't known people like this - men like this, children like this - who take and take and take from an ever-hopeful spouse or family and yet never seem quite able to be satisfied, or fulfilled, or happy! When all the sacrificial loving family member ever wants is for that feral person to be happy. Or at least safe.

    Like I said, Rorschach.

    And in this, I have to admit, Robinson delivers again, most profoundly, in pulling back the curtains and showing us, right down to the faint beat of a pulse along a pale wrist, the impact on a family of such a lone wolf. Not that the wolf doesn't suffer. Not that we don't all feel empathy as we struggle to surface from this mire, gulping and gasping air, sorry for Glory who remains below, yet intent on saving ourselves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

    The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    After reading some of the reviews, I felt a bit off-kilter, as if I'm seeing something that wasn't intended by the author.

    Nevertheless, here's my impression: this story is about a man who, because of his physical limitations, resists closeness with other people, to the point that he marries a woman who seems certain to want the same, arm's length relationship. It's only after she dies that he begins to sense that he was wrong about that. During the grieving process, he comes to realize he's been living an arm's-length life.

    I love stories about people who come out of a fog and change their lives, empowered by the realization that they've been missing something important - that their reasoning was flawed, but it doesn't have to remain that way. And Anne Tyler is such a great wordsmith, anything she writes is wonderful. This book is perhaps a bit too subtle to win the raving applause it deserves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

    Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    As I read Lean In, I was intrigued at being able to get inside the head of a dynamic, smart woman who is one generation younger than me, and see the corporate world through her eyes. One of the cultural questions she answered for me was this: why are younger women so averse to the terms "feminist" and "feminism"? Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg and her contemporaries believe(d) the following:

    1. Equality having arrived, there's no need for feminism anymore
    2. Feminists are man-haters who resist makeup and the shaving of one's legs

    Okay, #2 was a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, having observed conditions in the real world for a few years now, Sandberg has come to see that the playing field is not and will not be level until more women occupy positions of power in the corporate hierarchy. She doesn't suggest that this is due to any malicious intent on the part of men, but rather it's simply a matter of ignorance.

    To illustrate, she describes having to park far away from her office door when hugely and uncomfortably pregnant. When she designated preferred parking spots to accommodate pregnant workers, no one complained. It was seen as logical. But prior to her taking her place in the C-suite, the issue hadn't been raised.

    Sandberg talks about not slowing down out of consideration for what might happen in the nebulous future. The example she gives, now famous, is of a young woman confiding her fears of not wanting to accept a job with a lot of responsibility due to the impact it might have on her family. The woman was planning ahead - she didn't even have a boyfriend yet.

    With this example, Sandberg makes the point that women, having been highly trained and educated, are waving off promotional opportunities. The jury is still out as to why, but she suggests, and I agree, that part of the reason is this: in corporate America, a woman's decision to go through pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and child-rearing is viewed as a private matter that should not impact her ability to work long hours and irregular schedules, including lengthy and frequent travel as needed. Rightly fearing this may drive her insane, a woman who wants a family may leap off the corporate ladder at a very early stage.

    Sandberg argues that if a young woman stayed on it long enough to secure a more powerful position, she would be able to exert more control over her work life (a perspective the young woman must trust will happen, since at her current low place on the corporate ladder she can only see her lack of power and control.) After a few promotions, she will be able to delegate some of her work to subordinates, afford more help at home, and influence workplace policies that unfairly impact women and families. Who can find fault with this argument?

    Sandberg is honest about her own mistakes, and I found that charming. For example, I was amazed that, for all her intelligence and education, she didn't originally intend to negotiate her starting salary with Facebook. Luckily a nice man (her husband) set her straight, and she made a counter offer to Zuckerberg. Reams of guidance have been written about how this error could have impeded her in later years, both at Facebook and with future employers, yet she didn't know. For other women who have not yet made this horrifying discovery, please read Ask for It by Babcock and Laschever (http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Women-Power...) which in addition to being enlightening and entertaining, offers tons of strategies for preparing yourself to negotiate. And not just for salaries. After reading that book I saved $150 on furniture I was going to buy anyway, by asking one question.

    But back to Lean In.

    I was also surprised that she wasn't well informed about how women can sabotage other women in the workplace, particularly women in power. This is an unfortunate truth with roots in biology, and is brilliantly explained in the amazing book, In the Company of Women by Heim and Murphy (http://www.amazon.com/Company-Women-I...) which I reviewed here:
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... This also suggests the reasons Sandberg was hit with such a backlash for the well-intentioned Lean In.

    There is so much more to say about Lean In, but let me close with this: I enjoyed learning how this stellar corporate executive struggled, made mistakes, and ultimately learned some strategies that will enable her, her family, and the women (and men) in her corporation to thrive. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's not even pretty, but part of the lesson is to let go of the need for perfection.

    The other message, younger women, is to get as far and as fast as you can before starting your families. Don't opt out just because it looks too hard from where you're sitting now. The view improves with each rung on the ladder.

    View all my reviews

Style for Over 50 – Ladies’ Edition

No, it’s not Friday; don’t get excited. It’s just that lately, I’ve had so many ideas for topics that I decided to do two this week. Enjoy, ladies.

I’m 59 years old. I’m 5’8″ and I weigh about 160. I want clothes that are comfortable and look good, but I’m not interested in losing weight. I’m fit and healthy, and life is too short to forego wine and chocolate. Or pizza. Or Date Night at Some Fancy Restaurant. What’s a gal to do?

Well, I found some solutions.  I’m no photographer but I figured out how to set my camera to 10-second-delay, then I ran around in front of it and posed. If you click on the pix, they’ll enlarge.

Top from FreshProduceClothes.com. Pants from Travelsmith.

Top from FreshProduceClothes.com. Pants from Chicos.com, the Traveler’s label.

a

This top was a little too low-cut so I closed it with a safety pin and stuck a clip-on earring over that. Voila. Cleavage jewelry.

Top from FreshProduceClothing.com. Slacks are NYDJ (with lovely Spandex).

Top from FreshProduceClothes.com. Slacks are NYDJ (with lovely Spandex).

a

a

a

a

a

a

Like I said, I like to be comfortable.

a

a

a

a

a

a

Top from FreshProduceClothing.com. Pants from Travelsmith.

Top from FreshProduceClothes.com. Pants from Travelsmith.

a

a

a

This periwinkle top is the same model as the beige-and-white design above. Both are 100% cotton (as is the green top) and all three are made in the USA.

a

a

a

a

Dress and tee from FreshProduceClothing.com. 100% cotton and made in USA.

Dress and tee from FreshProduceClothes.com. 100% cotton and made in USA.

a

a

a

The dress is really cool, being all cotton, and it has pockets. Yes, it is the same pattern as the beige and white top but I never wear them together so unless you memorized my closet, who would know? Or care?

Bamboo squort by FreshProduceClothing.com.

Bamboo squort by FreshProduceClothes.com.

a

a

a

a

And finally, did you know somebody is still making squorts? Check this baby out: no closure, just pull ’em up. And they have pockets! This is a product made of bamboo. It’s soft and drapey.

for Barb Hughes 8 2013 023

a

a

a

a

Here’s a closeup of the squort.

a

a

a

a

a

a

If it seems like I’m pushing Fresh Produce, I’m not, but I DID recently fall in love with their clothes.  Most of them are made in America, and they’re heavy on the cotton so they breathe. I also like Chico’s (they’re more for the cooler months as their clothes are made of petroleum products) and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans for all the stretch.

Have you made a recent clothing discovery? Spill it, girlfriend.

Leave a comment

39 Comments

  1. You’re lookin’ awesome Lynne!!

    Reply
  2. Donna Pekar

     /  September 3, 2013

    Hey, Lynne. check out your links for fresh produce clothes — I think the one with the word clothing in it is wrong as opposed to the one with clothes. You look adorable! Will comment on the blog.

    DP

    Reply
  3. I was happy to see that all of the links you provided, sold plus sizes! I also love to be comfy in cottons and natural fibers. Thanks for the ideas, and you look lovely.

    Reply
  4. Catherine

     /  September 3, 2013

    Looking good lady!………I have recently found the best fitting jeans EVER ( for me….5’6..135)…..Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda, average length with super stretch. No binding waistline or sagging after wearing. My good friend is a size sixteen and loves them also. Great pricing and good selection of colors made this a great find.

    Reply
    • That’s good info, Catherine. Spandex can be too much of a good thing if you have to keep pulling the suckers up. I’m partial to lower-waisted designs, which allow for comfortable fit.

      Reply
  5. I like to be comfy too and after giving up everything as live progressed and the one behind me, I feel it’s time to let comfort be my guide. You look fantabulous.
    Since I retired (almost 7 years now), I live in jeans (mostly) and this past summer in long summer dresses. Unless I go to a special function, I’m afraid I don’t worry about clothes too much, but I love your fashion show. Gives me ideas…

    Reply
  6. You look beautiful, and I love your choices and colors. I am still not accepting of my 160 lbs, but I notice how my desired weight is a negotiable number and keeps creeping up. 5 years ago I was working at 150 to get to 145. 3 years ago it was 155 to 150 and now it is 160 to 155. And last night the wine at an outdoor concert with a good pizza was worth it all. Thanks for the post!!

    Reply
    • Patricia, your second to last sentence says it all for me. I wouldn’t trade that kind of an experience to look better. Life, as they say, is too short. We have a wine region a half hour from my house, and occasionally I’ll do a wine tasting with girlfriends, or play nine holes of golf and then have lunch in wine country with my sweetie, and I would not give that up for anything in the world!

      Reply
  7. I still swear by jeans from The Gap. I even bought two pairs of skinny jeans and by golly and by gosh if they aren’t somewhat flattering!

    Reply
    • Pam, I don’t think my hips would fit into anything with “skinny” in the title, but I appreciate the information. On the plus size, I almost made it the whole way through childbirth (35 years ago) without any medication. Built for babies.

      Reply
  8. Looking good as usual. Like your choices.

    Reply
  9. Looking good. Wish I had your height. I’m fit but only 5’4″. Great haircut, by the way.

    Reply
    • Joyce, I had to go through hell in my adolescence and teen years. My nickname was Football Player. I was about 5’7″ and weighed about 130, but I thought I was a moose. Of course, all the boys were the size of little girls. I used to fall asleep at night praying that I’d wake up 5’2″ with size 7 feet and big boobs like my friend Denise. But then when I was about 25 I realized tall girls can eat more! (And I was lucky to find Casey Carlos at Salon Sapphire in Temecula. Casey just turned 30 and she’s my spy in the youth camp.)

      Reply
  10. My favorite jeans are Kut from the Kloth sold in Nordstrom. Great fit.

    Reply
  11. Have you found the fountain of youth girl. You look just as I remember you many moons ago….. Love the clothes too!

    Reply
  12. Lynne – this post was so-o-o-o much fun to read and see!! Makes me want to go shopping!

    Reply
  13. So chic, Lynne. Looks like you are ready for the runways of Paris…so get your butt over here & start strutting your stuff. Loved the turquoise top…great color for you. And I was thrilled to see you are TALL, too. Believe me, over here I look like a tower!

    Reply
  14. Shelley Charlesworth

     /  September 3, 2013

    You look great! I love Fresh Produce clothes and have for years. I’m into comfort. One surprising thing I
    discovered a few years ago was thrift store shopping. I have found amazing things. Not every time I go but regularly. 3 years ago I found a 2 piece Eileen Fisher outfit for $18. It was like-new and fit me perfectly. Another time I found a very chic London Fog
    trench coat for $30 and a beautiful hand knit Italian sweater with the price tag and extra buttons attached for $28.
    Recently I scored a Talbots jacket for $22. I love the idea that the thrift store items are being recycled.

    Reply
  15. Lynne, you haven’t aged a second since we met in Cincy years ago! I LOVE the first photo of you — that aqua top is the perfect color, and those white pants look so California-chic! Way to go, Sistah — better tell those too-skinny models with hollowed-out cheeks that THIS is what American women prefer today, style and comfort!

    Reply
    • Hey, Deb, great to hear from you! And I have read for years that the most common size in America (women) is 14. I’m between a 14 and 16. I subscribe to one concrete rule of fashion: Buy a Bigger Top!

      Reply
  16. Those outfits look really nice. Feminine and modest. Very stylish. I don’t blame you for not wanting to lose weight. You are thin already. I weigh what you do and I’m only 5’2!!! I need to get out and walk!

    Reply
  17. you look awesome Lynne. I love NYDJ and Fresh Produce. I can’t find much Fresh Produce around here though, only at the beach. I’ve never tried Chico’s. My mom swears by it, and that kind of turns me off.

    Reply
    • Karen, go to FreshProduceClothes.com and watch for sales. They have tons of them. And as for Chicos, be careful about your preconceived notions; the first time I walked into Chicos I saw the sizes 2 and 3 and walked out in disgust, thinking it was a store for tiny women. HAHAHA! Chico’s is very cool, trust me.

      Reply
  18. You look great! Don’t change a pound! I’ve been wearing Fresh Produce for YEARS!

    Reply
  19. sheilaboneham

     /  September 3, 2013

    You look great, the clothes look great! I think I feel some serious shopping coming on. Thanks, Lynne!

    Reply
  20. Lynne, you look fabulous in every picture. Step aside supermodels.Your “skinny” tops theirs anyday.:-)

    Reply
  21. Debra

     /  September 4, 2013

    Love that look – if I was 4 inches taller I would do that in a heartbeat!

    Reply
  22. You look amazing! Are you sure you weigh 160? You look 30 pounds lighter.
    I can relate to your comment about suffering through adolescence because of height. I was 5’9″ (now 5’8 and a half).
    Great photos–great outfits. You’ve got STYLE, lady!

    Reply
  23. Thanks, Shelley! Starting out tall was hard, but now with shrinking I’m just fine. Some things do get better with age.

    Reply
  24. Always love a good fashion show!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Lynne Spreen

  • Follow LynneSpreen on Twitter
  • my read shelf:
    Lynne Spreen's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
  • Review of Private Life by Jane Smiley

    Private LifePrivate Life by Jane Smiley
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Maybe this book is better than my capacity to appreciate. I don't tend toward writing that is obscure, or dense (or makes me feel dense). However, sometimes it's better to roll along with the storytelling and let the deeper meaning work its way up from subconscious to conscious.

    The ending of this book is extremely powerful. Margaret, due to the traumatic incident that happened when she was five, lived in a fog her entire life, married to a wacko genius, and not waking up until she was in her sixties and everything/everyone is sad and tired. Yet she seems to catch fire, fueled by bitterness, in the very last 3 sentences of the epilogue. It was a long time to wait for the enlightenment.

    I gave the book 3 stars because there's too much backstory too soon, making it hard for me to develop an interest. Once there, I felt frustrated at the repetitious nature of Margaret's obtuseness, even though she's a bright woman, and her deferring to Andrew, even though this is what people - women especially - do.

    It went on for her whole life! That she was living in a cloud due to, I believe, the trauma of the childhood incident, and that she was ill served by those around her, didn't make it any easier to like this story. I know Smiley is a master writer, and I feel like a goof not giving her a better rating, but this is my honest reaction.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Up At The Villa by Somerset Maugham

    Up at the VillaUp at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Very much enjoyed this short book, which I read in one night. The settings are lush, dialogue snappy, and the characters realistic and strong. The plot and writing are compelling. I enjoyed it because a theme might be, "people are not what they appear to be." A character acts one way and you think, okay, he's good and upstanding. And maybe he IS, but the "why" of it is enlightening. Maugham is a respected author for a reason. What talent! A very good story.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Benediction by Kent Haruf

    BenedictionBenediction by Kent Haruf
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Ever in search of stories about midlife and beyond, I set up a page on facebook (www.Facebook.com/midlife.fiction) and asked for suggestions. I got 38 great recommendations, and I hope to read and review every one of them. Herewith, then: Benediction by Kent Haruf. What a masterpiece.

    Benediction centers around an elderly man who is dying, but the story encompasses many rich characters, and their small stories touched me. In fact, I think this is what made the book so special for me: I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. Each one resonated. I felt again what it was like to be a lost little girl, a lonely divorcee, a misunderstood introspective, a grieving wife, a person who is coping with serious illness. I longed for the small-town atmosphere described here (the Fourth of July fireworks over the high school football field is a stellar short story all by itself.)

    Although the central character is dying, the book is not negative. Far from it - Benediction reflects on the everyday goodness (and tawdriness) of people. His characters are beset by the normal difficulties of life yet buoyed by simple beauties and kindnesses.

    Yet, nothing in Haruf's writing is overly dramatic or in the least saccharine. In fact, that's one of the aspects of Benediction I enjoyed the most: being surprised by tears on the completion of a plainly-written paragraph, phrase or description.

    I couldn't stop reading excerpts to my husband, since he also loves beautifully crafted writing. This book put me in mind of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. If I could describe it in one word, it would be "elegiac."

    View all my reviews

  • Blogs I Follow

  • This Blog Got Five Stars!

Still the Lucky Few

Reflections on Life as a Senior

Writing Contemplative life Essays

Examining experiences and exploring possibilities

Live & Learn

David Kanigan

ElderChicks

Helping each other master the art of a senior life.

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks

self-publishing tips for authors

Waiting for the Karma Truck

thoughts on the spaces in between

Writing Out Loud

A Place of Observation

Guerrilla Aging

Navigating the Third Half of Life

Memoir Writer's Journey

Sharing hope one story at a time

MIDLIFE MAGIC

Life in the Boomer Lane

Musings of a former hula hoop champion

%d bloggers like this: