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January 29, 2009

Time for a road trip, ladies!

Those of you who are regular readers know that I rarely promote anything outside of Whitley County. Well, once in awhile I’ll advocate venturing outside our borders – particularly when it means pointing out a place I know you’ll all enjoy.

Last week, I ventured northward to Syracuse on the urging of a friend of mine to check out a business located there and I’m going to tip you off to what I found…on the condition you promise to tell whomever sees you and says, "Oh, you look fabulous," you tell them it is all because you read Talk of the Town. Ok. I'm kidding. 

The Revolving Closet is a well-kept secret despite being around since 2003. I only learned about it a month ago and while secrets should typically be kept as such, many of you who are regular readers of this column will find this information helpful…particularly when the economy is what it is…and hey, who doesn’t want to look great and save a few bucks.

The Revolving Closet specializes in current designer clothing and accessories in impeccable, like-new condition. In fact, much of what they have in stock still has tags attached – perhaps the result of shopping mavens who went a little wild? A mistaken splurge? Who cares!

Unlike my closet where things go in and never come out…The Revolving Closet moves up to 200 new items through the store each day. And it is organized – in color order and looks very much like a high-end boutique.

Here's another thought for you, too: it is a consignment boutique...so you could actually clean out your closet, take 25 of your best items up there and put them up for sale. I need to take this advice myself -- my husband will thoroughly agree. I have a few adorable pairs of Michael Simon sandals, new in boxes, that are on my short list of items to take up there.

Oh, and promise me that if you see something there that looks very “Jennifer” that you will not buy it yourself and you’ll call me…immediately. I mean it!

For more information, check out the website…www.therevolvingcloset.com

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January 04, 2009

Reflection on the experiences of my "old long years"

Every year I look forward to New Year’s Eve, not for the party really, but for the reflection and an annual nod to the traditions my family has celebrated heartily for so many years.

When my grandparents emigrated to the US, far from the comfort of family, New Year’s celebrated among a large circle of friends was a given. The evening revelry included, among other things, music, food and laughter. Since many of their tightly-knit group of friends were recent immigrants from the British Isles, they also engaged in first-footing, casting salt over the shoulders, a gift of shortbread and a dram of whisky for the hostess and other ancient traditions. The end of the night always included the linking of arms as they sang “Auld Lang Syne.” Always. And there were always tears.

As a very young child, I never understood why they cried, but sometime in my late teens I asked by grandfather about the song. He explained that the bard Robert Burns words conveyed the sense that at that moment in the year we weren’t just looking at the year behind us, but of friendships and relationships we mourn from the “old long years.” It is likely that, so far from home, they all reflected back to similar gatherings shoulder to shoulder with family “at home” in Scotland, Ireland, England or Wales – friends and family separated by the sea and separated by time, by death or circumstance.

And so, when I hear that song, sung these days with smiling faces – it strikes me in a more bittersweet way as I think about the old long years and that, with age, I too have come to collect sweet and fond memories intermingled with sad and tragic ones – and that like my grandparents and their friends, they all come flooding back with that song.

The past year has been a peculiar one – the kind that makes me wonder a little about the big picture. I’m always contemplating the big picture, really, and seeking the relevance of all the little things that happen to me on a daily basis for an understanding of how they related to the total of my life’s experience. I don’t think life is accidental or happenstance, nor are the many things that happen in the course of a day, week or year.

I once found something in the dirt as a child with a swirling design on it as a child that in my mind kind of exemplifies my experience this past year. Standing barefoot in the garden as I looked carefully at the rock, or worn shard of pottery, (I’m not sure what it was), I examined the bluish swirl that began around the outer three sides and can to a point in the center. The edges all turned inward to a point in the center – like things unrelated at a distance pulling together in the middle for a common purpose. Yes, this was precisely the concept I contemplated at the age of 10 or 12 when I saw this small rock in the dirt.

It was, this year, like a lot of things that had no known reason for happening seemed to come to my attention – they seemed unrelated at a distance, but all pulled to the center, like an answer to questions I hadn’t even asked. Was there a reason for this? A greater lesson to be learned? Yes, I believe so.

The old long years seem to carry within them folds where unresolved issues are lodged, the abyss where friendships fade, the distances that grow greater with time. But, as we draw the years out, the bumps in the fabric of our life become apparent and we feel the need to hem them in, trim them out or smooth them. The desired response to each situation is unknown until we are sufficiently older and wiser. In our youth, we haven’t the life experience to know which response is best, but as the faint lines appear on our faces, they also appear in our lives, revealing the weak points we may need to address.

This past year I was given a gift, an opportunity to address some of what happened in my old long years. These issues weren’t all bad or all good either – just items need of hemming, trimming and smoothing. Though I am still unaware of the all bumps I will address in the future, or why on so many occasions I was able to do this during this past year, I feel certain that those addressed in the past year have a permanence that makes me look forward with wonder and contentment about that which lies ahead.

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