Hair, for Marilyn (surface, my A_ _!)

 

These are all pictures I have already posted at one time or another but Marilyn, at Serendipity recently wrote such a delightful piece on her hair,

THE SURFACE REPORT: TODAY WE ARE SHALLOW

I am choosing to respond this way.

I have never considered myself particularly pretty. I came of age in the Sixties, with a backdrop of Hair, the Musical, and CSNY defending long hair

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XWmwvT8bCw)

and we were not supposed to care about such things as physical beauty, but I secretly did anyway. (I wore nice, handmade Hippie clothes and always made sure my hair was clean and shiny before I put those flowers in it!)

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Tail end of California Color                                       Living in the Northwest color

After some therapy (in search of my self-esteem) I was finally able to claim for myself, the descriptor “fairly attractive”….and the fact that I had great hair! It has always been too straight and obnoxiously thick, but I liked it anyway. When others were going in for cuts, straightening or perms, I’d have mine “thinned”. Oh, I tried the perms (we’re never happy with the hair we get) but those amazing waves would only last about 2 weeks. Then, having a mind of its own, my hair would spring right back to absolute curl-lessness.

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                                 80’s Big Hair Perm

I really relate to some of what Marilyn describes about the hassles of hair. I thought I would have to shave my head during menopause to avoid that hot, “Itchy blanket” feel on my neck. Pulling it all up in what she called a “scrungy elastic and fabric thingie” was the only option. And my biggest issue was where the heck to put it all when wearing my motorcycle helmet?? It simply would not fit up in there and what was left out would take hours to comb through after a ride. (Don’t even get me started on Helmet Hair!)

Oh and the whole thing of trusting another to actually cut my hair?? I’ve been with Kelly for more than 30 years and she knows she is not allowed to retire before I die!! We are great friends by now, and sometimes, I even bring my own finishing equipment if it’s a day when I want my hair a certain way. She is so great and patient, especially when she has to repair those in-between-appointments bangs cuts I try to give myself.

I can finally acknowledge that I have actually received positive attention for my hair since I was a surfer girl on the beach. In my high school annual (you know that comment they put with your senior picture?) mine was not about talent or intelligence or future success. It was about my friggin hair!

My whole life, total strangers have come up to me in stores, airports, libraries and not just commented on my hair. Sometimes they even TOUCH it!!

I actually like the attention, the compliments, the questions about where I get it cut, what shampoo I use, etc. But not so much the touching. (Hey, I have enough PTSD triggers to master. Strangers suddenly touching me is NOT OK!)

There were also debates with those complete intruders who felt the need to lecture me on my choice “at my age” not to dye! (My hair was white by 42 or so.) Or, to still wear my hair long when “really, that should be for a younger woman, don’t you think?” (f. you!!)

Anyway, now at 68 years old, when I look in a mirror, I don’t see much left of “fairly attractive”. (See my earlier post on “Time”) https://chosenperspectives.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/time-warning-to-young-women-rated-r-for-terror/ )

But it has not bothered me much. The Sixties actually did teach us about much deeper and more important things than our appearance.

And besides, I still had my hair! Until recently, that is.

I haven’t felt well for almost 2 years now. All my symptoms have pointed to a thyroid problem but no one seems to be able to diagnose anything because the “numbers” haven’t matched what their specialty says they should be. So, trying to track down the cause of some pretty bothersome symptoms, I have seen a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, a dentist, rheumatologist, a gastroenterologist, and ENT, a dermatologist, a polysomnographist and two endocrinologists. (I remember the “old days”, before medicare, when I had a fantastic Internist for 35 years, who was the best detective and considered ALL systems when I had a malady!! Sigh…)

Anyway, while they are all trying to figure out (each looking only in their field) what the heck is wrong with me, my teeth, skin and hair are biting the dust. I have always shed a lot but had so much hair I never cared. Now, my eyebrows and eyelashes are completely gone, and my hair is coming out in piles! I had to give up really long hair (my favorite style) early last year but have refused to go short short as it is just not me.

But it gets thinner every day and I no longer like it. I am disgusted with myself but I feel all self-conscious (again) and am pretty depressed about the whole thing. I really did expect to like my hair until the end, wearing a long gray braid down my back, like a proper elder, looking the part of a sage, a crone.

As my self-esteem is once again plummeting, I read Marilyn’s delightful post. She wrote it for the word prompt Surface, and used the word shallow, but I found such deep relief to know I am not alone with my hair issues. Thanks Marilyn and to your commenters as well.

Then yesterday I took James to the VA Hospital for his colonoscopy.

I passed a young-ish, white haired nurse on my way to the waiting room. She stopped me, hand on my arm, and whispered “Oh yay, another beautiful white haired woman!” Then she asked if everyone tried to get me to dye it. We had a quite a sweet moment!

My first thought, in my lost hair, lowered self-esteem state? “Wow, they sure train the employees here to be nice to visitors.”

But then I had to go to the car for something and a guy driving a truck in the garage stopped, hand-rolled down the passenger side window and said “Wow, I really love your hair!”

Hmmm, maybe I’ve still got it???

 

Marilyn, if you are reading this, THANKS AGAIN!!

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Agnostic Angels

This is a love letter to my Dad, and a Thank You to the amazing, brave pilots who make up the Blue Angels.

It’s Seafair in Seattle and the Blue Angels are here!!!

When I was growing up, Angels were a surprising but recurring theme with my fairly agnostic father. He was one of the least religious and more unconsciously spiritual people I have ever known. Angels seemed to be everywhere in the things he did, where he took us and in what he showed us.

From San Diego, where we grew up, we went on many trips north to Los Angeles, the “City of Angels”, to ride the “Angels Flight”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_Flight

He told us many stories of the “Guardian Angels” he had as a kid who helped him survive his completely unsupervised childhood. Apparently he had many bizarre accidents and adventures…like tumbling off a mountain and landing halfway down on the only possible 11 inch ledge that could break his death-fall.

When he died, it was really no surprise that we received gracious help from the Hell’s Angel’s on the day of his Memorial.

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We bungee-corded my Dad’s ashes to the back of his lifelong Dream-Harley. (He didn’t get it until he was in his eighties.) Our caravan of family cars followed Lee on the bike out into the mountains East of San Diego to my Dad’s favorite little town called Julian. We celebrated his life and when we got ready to leave, I spotted a couple of real Harley riders, mounting up. I told them my Dad’s story, and pointed out the box of ashes on the back of my Dad’s bright red, flame-painted Sportster (with matching helmet). Much to my delight (and the chagrin of some of my religious relatives) we were escorted down the mountain by the two guys I talked to AND their friends. FIFTY Hells Angels followed my Dad (and us) back down that mountain, lights on, in two perfect parallel lines!

The Blue Angels entered my life very young!

My favorite of the Angel Activities as a kid was this. My little sisters were too young, so Dad would take just me to Miramar Naval Air Base early on Sunday mornings, to watch the Blue Angels practice their soon to become famous stunts. He was very proud of being able to get on the Base and to show off what he claimed to be the planes that “he had built”. (My Dad was an aeronautical engineer who moved from Kansas to San Diego to work in his industry.) I would ride on his shoulders for the “show” and he would duck down when they flew over, as if they were actually flying low enough to be dangerous to this lone man with a squealing little girl on his shoulders. What an absolute thrill it was and my memories to this day are so clear, so physical!

Though I struggled sometimes with the dichotomy of a Hippie Peacenik Flowerchild being in love with fighter pilot jets, I have watched The Blue Angels through so many stages of my life. In my 20’s and 30’s, before the trees grew up around us, the huge deck off my house was the favorite viewing place of all the single Mom’s in the neighborhood. We’d put on our bikini’s and pose on the deck, debating the safety of doing that…as if the pilots were actually going to look down at us each time they flew over! Then, there were the years I worked lunches in a fancy restaurant in the tallest building in Bellevue…sharing the panoramic viewing experience with my wealthy customers. One of my favorite memories was when my small son and I watched them while we were zipping around Lake Washington on a friend’s Jet Ski right under them. What a high that was!!

Famous Move

And for almost 40 of these years, we kept the Blue Angels alive in our conversations during the rest of year. My best friend’s father, Colonel Louis Ford, was like a second Dad to me. He was a fighter pilot in 3 wars. And though he was respectful of the “Angels”, he clearly had a bias! Made for some lively discussions, Air Force vs Navy pilots, between him and my Dad, who built jets for the Navy! Colonel Ford taught me about the concepts of Hangar Flying (the time spent in the hangar, processing mistakes and accidents) as well as “The Hole in the Sky” (an opening in the clouds) that a pilot sometimes had to find in order to survive.

Boys got me autographs on my Blue Angel’s birthday t-shirt!

Now, I have 2 Grandsons, 9 and 11, and their Mom and my son have taken them to see the Blue Angels every year of their lives. This has been a great setting to share stories of my Dad, the wonderful Great Grandfather they never got to meet, a man who had a life filled with “Angels” and he passed them all onto us….

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For many years I went by myself to a tiny (and progressively less secret) park on Mercer Island shore, the Thursday and Friday prior to the big Seafair Air Show. On Thursday, from this little park on the water, you can watch the scouting the Blue Angels do each year to get the lay of the land. And on Fridays, you can watch a full rehearsal of the big show they will perform on Saturday and Sunday. You can’t be at this little park for the actual show as it becomes an emergency Aid Station on those days.

My ritual was always to go there early, get settled and then call my Dad….so I could be on the cell phone with him as the Angels arrived. That first fly over is an indescribable thrill! In that park, they fly in low and from behind you. Their approach is muted by the hillside and thick trees, almost silent until suddenly, they thunder over your head. It is kind of like walking up the path next to the massive, rolling Niagara Falls; totally quiet until you get past a certain point and then instantly it becomes a deafening roar of falling water.

Anyway, I would hold the phone up in the air and scream at the top of my lungs as my Dad’s Angels buzzed our shared location.

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No matter when or where I see them, I am instantly five years old again, sitting way up high on my Daddy’s shoulders when those beautiful Blue Angels scream by.

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my only shot this year from my deck. they fly directly over me. could not get camera working in time

I sure hope Dad witnessed that generous and spontaneous Hell’s Angel Memorial procession, and that he sees us watching the Blue Angels every year, from somewhere up there through the “hole in the sky”.

Heaven Bound

 

 

Saving the Best for Last: a Love Story for the Natchez High Class of 66!

Happy 10th Anniversary to my James ♥

Dear Natchez High Class of 1966, (the longest “christmas Letter” ever!)

After we left y’all at our 40th Reunion in 2006, James and I have made quite a life for ourselves. You all witnessed the beginning of us, (unless you actually remember even earlier…James and I hanging out back in high school during The King and I rehearsals). Some of you probably spotted the potential before either one of us did.

Actually, it was pretty instant. Eye contact at the Pig Roast at Everett’s. We both knew  even before we even arrived back to our separate homes out West in June, 2006.

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                                                    Spotted this on my long drive home that June

I was the more resistant at first, not wanting to be in a long-distance relationship. (This was when I thought James still lived in Mississippi.) But when I found out that he was just across my local mountains, a mere 4 hour drive (from Bellevue to Spokane, WA.) I was a goner. No excuses. Early on, we had fun discovering the mutual secret crushes we both hidden in our adolescent friendship during our time together at NACHS.

During our first couple of years together since that reunion, the 4 hour drive was sometimes inconvenient, but both of us willingly accepted the challenge and began making room in our separate lives for each other.

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Sometimes all we had time for was driving two hours each, meeting halfway between our homes but that became another sweet adventure. Talk about meeting in the middle of nowhere! This is the Columbia Gorge.

We have now lived in both our places for most of these 10 years.

Learning about each other’s’ lives since high school has unearthed so many experiences in common…and many near misses as our paths almost crossed…serendipity!

We both “served our country”, James, by being in the Army during the Vietnam era, and me, by becoming a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), our country’s Peace Corp.

                                     James in Vietnam                                           Kathie in Birmingham 

We both lived in the San Francisco Bay area at the same time, during the height of the Haight/Ashbury Hippie days.
HippieKathie

We both travelled the country and chose the beautiful Northwest in which to settle. A couple of times, I was back in Mississippi while James was out West, in San Diego (where I had returned to after high school in Natchez) just missing each other.

We have both inherited such wonderful things from each other’s lives.

We have two homes now; one, a gorgeous mountain retreat, built by James with his own talented hands! And one, a unique suburban homestead, much of which has been built (or held together with duct tape) by my own hands.

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                                            My misleading “little house”…it’s actually quite large

 

I get to have live music regularly in my life now, as James has continued to play off and on professionally.

He and my son connected over music right away.

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                                                             Michael and James on guitar photo

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                                                                       James at a Spokane gig

 

James got me on the Harley

 

and I gave him a family

                                                                            James with his new family

 

James gave me his circle of friends that have been meeting every Wednesday night for over 20 years at what they call The Wheel. (This is an amazing group of folks in Spokane who gather on a mountain top to celebrate Nature and to support each other. They call it the “Church of the Blue Dome”.)

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                                                                                The Wheel

 

And I gave him my sister’s home in the San Juan Islands where we get to house-sit every year for a few weeks.

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 Oh, my sister’s husband is now one of J’s very best friends.

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They think they are so tough. Lenore and I think they are just HOT!

We have had great travel adventures. We’ve been back to Natchez several times, almost bought an “older home” there, and with each visit, we gained weight by filling up on real catfish and hushpuppies…oh, and fried green tomatoes and dill pickles.

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My sweet cousins and me

We took an amazing road trip on the Harley, down the West Coast as far as Pacific Grove, and camped in the Redwood Forest, which James had never seen before! (below)

 

We have been to San Diego a few times, enjoying the Beach Life I grew up in…

 

And we have both tried to make up for all the lost time by sharing our Mothers with each other.

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                                        James and siblings visiting Mother Alma’s grave in Natchez

James even went with me to visit my Mother’s grave for the very first time.

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                         My mother’s grave in the Fort Rosecrans military cemetery in Point Loma

And a huge highlight for me is that James was with me and my son and his family, when we reunited with my long lost daughter, Pamela and her family.

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                                 Me, with BOTH my children at the same time…a dream come true

 

We have done so much to improve our two homes.

James has used his amazing skills to fix up, save and improve my Bellevue home of 40 years now. It’s over 100 years old and needed his talent. He even built me a Group Therapy Room so I could bring my practice home after I sold my long time office building. It’s really the very best room in the whole house.

And I introduced James to my 38 years long best friend and former business partner and he and his wife and James and I have added on the equivalent of another home to J’s mountain “cabin” so we can all live together as we age. (All four of us WRITE! My best friend and his wife are both published, she has even won an award  http://www.patriciacleary.net/ ).

But James is the sleeper. He is incredibly talented! The novel he’s working on rivals anything Grisham has written and, dare I say it, maybe even our own Greg Iles. (James will deny this, LOUDLY.) I’m writing a nonfiction book that will hopefully be a legacy for my grandchildren, at least.

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                   Casa Esmeralda-Before and After (named, as James often does, after Emerald Mound)

James and I are so grateful to have connected at this later point in our lives because we know we probably would not have survived with each other earlier, given all the hard relationship lessons we both had to learn.

We really wanted to come to the 50th Reunion this year, and had planned to when we thought it would be Memorial Day weekend. We were going to dance outrageously and give y’all “Something to Talk About”……………(You’ll have to get James to tell you the story of Bonnie Raitt singing that very song to him!!!)

But instead, you get the world’s longest “Christmas Letter”!

So sorry to miss you all. And I hope you turn the town upside down this weekend!!

Love and Hugs from,

Kathie Bessey Arcide and James Carl Fletcher

(although he doesn’t know I’m doing this! It is my anniversary gift to him!!) ♥

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My favorite picture!

PS Someone posted this recently.

http://www.natchezrebels.org/james/

Was it you Larry?

Abstract from Harley Road Trip

 

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From Bellevue, Washington to Pacific Grove, California (including camping in the Redwoods). This shot taken right after we were passed by the Hell’s Angels on the freeway next to Lake Shasta …hmm, reminds me of another great story.

Watch for “The Hell’s Angels meet the Mormons”!!

 

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