Beauty born of Trouble…

imageWomen from the Deep Coastal South love our Pearls. The Mother of Pearls is the Oyster, one of our most highly prized culinary gifts from the sea. Especially in November and December when the waters are cold enough- out of our beloved bays and inlets fishermen retrieve the finest oysters in the world from their peaceful beds beneath the waters. Stormy rough waves or an out-of-the-blue rush of water- a grain of sand enters the rare oyster. The sharp edges bother and irritate the delicate flesh of the oyster. All oysters live in a close knit community called an Oyster Bed. image

A Pearl Oyster lives in secret pain- silent agony. The oyster has no means to rid itself of this tiny bit of trouble. Unnoticed by the others in the watery bed-the oyster is experiencing inner turmoil and pain from just a tiny errant grain of sand. It hurts the oyster, it bothers the bivalve- after all the oyster was just sitting there trying to survive when the grain of sand came out of nowhere. Troubles are often like that.  To survive, the pearl oyster must  decide-

  •  to accept the pain,
  • find a way to live with the pain,
  • cover the grain of sand,
  • round off the rough edges.

Oysters have a way to heal themselves of troubles which will not go away. Within the oyster’s delicate system there is a God given remedy for pain and heartache. The lowly oyster patiently secretes a substance which surrounds an aggravating bit of trouble. There are times in our lives when we endure trouble born out of a small things- secret living griefs that-

  •  must be endured,
  • knows no relief,
  • interrupts our sleep
  • and threatens our peace.

We do have choices- we can:

  • ignore the pain
  • hope it will go away-
  • minimize the trouble –
  • ‘Oh it’s just a small thing, I’ll be alright’-
  • wait in excruciating silence,
  • wonder how to endure a painful uncertain future. image

As the tiny grain of sand digs deeper, a constant nagging source of pain, the oyster may clamp shut hoping to avoid another grain of sand that could cause more pain , more trouble. When the oyster accepts the grain of sand– the oyster’s system takes over the healing process. Beauty will be born out of trouble. It takes a bit of effort on the part of the oyster- to survive, patience endurance is required. Bit by bit a milky substance is secreted-  the grain of sand becomes a part of the oyster. Hidden in the injured flesh of a lowly rustic living creature, a Pearl is being formed. With longsuffering patience, and in cooperation with the Merciful Provision of God- small irritations and troubles have the potential to be transformed into valuable luminous loveliness-Pearls. image

Born of Trouble, lonesome pain and solitary determination- the Oyster’s life work becomes  a thing of infinite beauty and value. So may our irritations and pain become tokens of beauty which glorify God. This morning our prayer is that the Lord will string together our heartaches and irritations and show us the gleaming luminosity of our lives- Beauty Born out of Trouble. On this, the Merciful Day of our Lord, may we ponder the dilemma of the Pearl Oyster- living proof that a thing of Beauty can be born out of Trouble.

Love y’all, Camellia

All photographs are mine

Tacky or Tasteful #3…

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The South is a Matriarchal society. There’s a reason our Daddies said, ‘Ask your momma’. For all our feminine clothes and flirting…it’s true y’all, Southern Women are ‘Steel Magnolias’, who rule the roost with an Iron Hand whether the Roost is the size of the Chicken coop or a Big House on a hill. They insisted on- Tradition, Tact and Taste- otherwise their families would erode into Tacky or even worse- Trashy. They knew that classic dressing would last- if you had a Nice Black Dress and a Good White Blouse- you could dress Tastefully whether you had a fortune or lost one.

A whole lot of us, including me, wore a mix of new, homemade and hand-me-down clothing. We were not poor, I just had an older sister. If garments were well made and classic, they stood the test of time. Then there were some who learned the art of Tasteful Fashion by association with friends who had Mothers who insisted that Dressin’ Decent was the right thing to do. It boiled down to self respect and respect for others. I still believe this. I can never forget hearin’ our mommas say– ‘Always leave something to the imagination darlin’

So, to end Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage, let’s talk Accessories and more…

  • Pearls
  • A Good Watch
  • A Nice Pocketbook
  • Monograms
  • Sunglasses, Diamond Studs and Lipstick

Some of us come from the school of wearing a Single Strand of Pearls- others like to pile them on! I’m with Chanel who wore ropes and ropes of them! Nothing dresses up the neckline of a blouse or a simple dress like Pearls. Just don’t wear your pearls on your wedding day – my grandmother thought wearing pearls on your wedding day signified a string of troubles! Though that is not a proven fact.

A good Watch, whether it’s Cartier or Timex sets off any outfit casual or dressy. Our mommas wanted us to have a Watch because they expected us to be on time– for school, work and get home when we were supposed to! jackie-kennedy-vintage-cartier-black-turtleneck

A Nice Pocketbook is always a necessity. Let’s face it- if Queen Elizabeth thinks carryin’ a pocketbook is the right thing to do- who’s gonna argue with her? The Fashion Icons carried them too!

Monograms-Give a Southern Woman a blank surface of fabric and we can figure out how to monogram it! Several years ago- I inherited a mink stroller from my friend’s mother – on the inside her name had been monogrammed. In the South, if we ever get a cool snap, we’ll throw on a fur coat- real or faux- with jeans or our finery. However, after inheriting the mink stroller, to be honest I never had the occasion to wear it until our family flew to Montreal one winter– I wore it on the plane. Of course I was burning up! I looked down and saw Sybil’s name monogrammed inside and immediately was horrified thinking- if that plane crashed- they would think Sybil had died all over again! I love monograms.  Monogrammed handkerchiefs, scarves and jewelry are classic.monogrammed-silver-bracelet

A great pair of Sunglasses can take you anywhere! Not only do they stave off cataracts at the beach, but protect the delicate skin around your eyes and are a touch of glamour! The Fashion Icons agree!

Hold onto that thought… because I am about to share some well kept secrets

Diamond Studs, real or faux, are appropriate for young ladies and the ah…Southern Belles who are aging gracefully. I’ll never forget when chandelier earrings became fashionable- a Southern Mother told her daughter-‘Ruth Anne, the only appropriate place for chandeliers to hang are from the ceiling!‘ The truth is- wearing earrings is fun when  you’re young…but when it comes time to get a job? Listen to the Southern Mothers- ‘Nobody’s gonna hire you if all they notice are those earbobs janglin’ around!’ Wear Diamond studs instead. Now,hang in there with me… Think- Sunglasses, Diamond Studs and Red Lipstick! 

The truth is- Red Lipstick in all of it’s varied shades is the most classic pick of all timeRed Revival from Maybelline™ and. Cherries in the Snow from Revlon™ are all time favorites. Red Revival on the left- Cherries in the Snow on the left. Both have that Hollywood glamour!

 Diamond Studs bring sparkle up higher on your face, actually brighten the eyes and detract from fine lines! For those times when you wouldn’t be caught dead actually getting out of the car but need to scoot to the drive thru window at the bank-Sunglasses and Red Lipstick are a lifesaver. And finally, darlin’ …if you are gonna inflict your bare feet on the general public- please paint those toenails Red!

I can’t resist showing you my ever glamourous friend, Lorrie- she’s worn Red Revival Lipstick for years!morton-tims-event-1-029

Oh, I’ve had so much fun laughing with you during our Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage. Don’t be Tacky, be Tasteful in all you do! Of course we’ll never run out of advice from our Southern Mothers!

Love y’all, Camellia

The top photograph is from my friend Paula’s personal collection. The bottom photograph is from my personal collection. Other images are from AOL and may be subject to copyright.

Crowning Glory…

 

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To Southern women, our hair is our Crowning Glory…So, it’s a big decision whenever we start to go grey…for redheads or blondes, the decision is not so dramatic- it’s just silver threads among the gold or copper! For brunettes, it can be quite traumatic. Take me for instance…from childhood, my hair was as close to black as you could get and my eyes are this weird shade of green- very light, sort of chartreuse or lizard green…My great aunt Trix- exclaimed regularly…‘Isn’t she unusual?‘ and I never ever thought she meant that in a good way.

When the grey hairs started coming in more regularly than I thought was necessary…a decision had to be made.  Dark hair and dark eyes are a better aging combo than dark hair and light eyeswe start looking washed out. And who wants to look washed out?  That’s tantamount to looking washed up. In the South- looking washed out is almost as scary as that Ptomaine Poisoning our mothers were always telling us we would get if we ate at uninspected places. First, I followed my grandmother’s ancient advice- ‘If you look bad, get a permanent wave.’ I guess I thought if the grey hairs were coiled up tight with the others they wouldn’t be so noticeable- not true.

So amid the unsolicited advice- ‘Get that hair dyed’…and solicited advice from my beauty operator- ‘let’s put a few streaks in it’; I began the transition. I went lighter, had a few streaks put in, I looked like a blonde polecat. Back to the bottle again. When my book was published I was in the frame of mind to look as young as I could. I told the hairdresser to just do it a little lighter than my natural color which was dark brown. Dyed dark brown hair color was a pure vanity decision for the book cover.  Soon, reality sank in, I was dealing with roots. Now, Southerners have an unnatural fascination with our ancestors- our roots…however roots near your scalp isn’t pretty. We may want to know who your people are, but we don’t care whether your string of pearls is real or cultured; nor whether your hair is natural or dyed. The main thing is, Southern girls want to be cultured and real pretty, especially when it comes to our Crowning Glory.

Next- I had a semi-permanent wrench put on it, and I sat for hours with R2D2 foil squares, the pole cat look returned. I started looking in magazines and online, a good many famous people- namely movie stars of a certain age…were going naturally grey. Emmie Lou Harris, Linda Evans, Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Anderson Cooper, Diane Keaton, Ali MacGraw and who can forget Meryl Streep’s silver locks?

Of course we all know that men get ‘distinguished looking’ with grey hair- I don’t hear those same sentiments about women’s grey hair. To my surprise, there were articles written about ‘grey being the new black’ with stunning examples.

Then, a blogger I truly admire- Vicki Archer, of French Essence-beautifully let her readers know of her decision to go grey. Something clicked when I read her article. I too, was going to go grey. Now, I certainly didn’t want folks to say- ‘well, she’s really let herself go’ or ‘bless her heart she sure has aged’ or ‘she needs to dye that hair’…after all a woman’s hair is her Crowning Glory- it’s biblical. Following the hairdresser’s suggestions, she warned me it would take a long time, I said I was prepared or thought I was. imageA local magazine called and wanted to do a story on my book- I could hardly have a photograph done with ‘roots’ showing! I listened to the ancient voices in my head…‘Once a woman gets a certain age- she can’t wear long stringy hair’…I had a semi-permanent wrench put on and as you can see, I had my hair cut it as short as possible! After over two years…I am finally natural again, I also decided that I missed my hair having a little length to it. When I started blogging the advice was to use a professional photograph, the book cover photograph was the only one I had…but really Darlin’ I need to update-morton tims event 1 004

It’s not a professional photograph and who knows if I will ever figure out how to change it across all media- but I’m going for ‘truth in advertising’.  And I’m gon’ try to keep some color on my face, lipstick on my lips and remember that a smile is the best face-lift. I may be too old to successfully flirt, but can always flatter. I know I’ll never get tired of hearing or telling funny stories. The pearls might not always be real, but you can never have too much culture. No matter what color it is or how it got that way-A woman’s hair truly is her Crowning Glory. For me- Salt and Pepper is the Spice of Life!

Love y’all, Camellia