salsaI got through yesterday’s to-do list pretty well. The boys are provided with warm clothes, #2 son’s fleece throw is completed, many of the peppers have been transformed into salsa, the random errands were done.

Making salsa is enjoyable. This is Jalapeno Salsa, from a Ball canning jar company recipe. Jalapenos are so pretty, like plump little Christmas lights. Fresh peppers make a wonderful crisp sound while being cut, and the smell is invigorating. #2 son pressed the garlic for me, and helped with the stirring, and then there is the satisfying “ping” of the freshly canned goods making their little vacuum seal.

The boys debated whether the blood of a person in a vacuum sealed jar would burst from the body or not. In all the years I canned with my daughters, I do not recall that this topic ever arose.

No baking or housework took place. The Princess’s wedding gift took higher priority.

I had intended to make her a very bride-ish runner in white, sage green, and pink, with trapunto hearts. I saw the effect in The Complete Guide to Quilting Techniques some months ago and immediately thought it would be good for this purpose. I had also seen a set of quilting fabrics with the words “love, honor, and cherish” in those pretty colors, and had it mostly planned out.

applique start But then while I was at the fabric store I saw the “Stripe it Your Way” collection from Textile Creations, and decided to change the plan completely. Now I am adapting a Laurel Burch design to applique, using the lame (that’s two syllables, with an accent I don’t know how to add) and Indian cotton stripes from the collection. Having learned about TNT (tried and true) patterns during my SWAP adventures, I will be making the basic table runner from Creepy Crafty Halloween, which I used for my autumn table runner, but using the lovebirds applique instead of the pumpkins.

You can see in the picture how much I was able to accomplish during the afternoon — most of the basic applique for one heart. I have cut and pinned two hearts, but have not yet decided whether to use one in the center or two, one at each end.

Partygirl came over while I was doing the cutting. She sat on the floor with me and pointed out when I needed more green and which width of stripes to use for the next piece.

She also pointed out that this fabric collection matches the dishes I bought for #1 daughter, so I may do a second one of these for her. I intend to do the cutting and machine piecing for the runner this afternoon, and then work on the applique and quilting as opportunities present themselves. I think I should be able to finish in time.

Partygirl and I had a fairly rambling and discursive conversation, interrupted as it was by “Why don’t you use the yellow for the beaks?” and “Where did I put that butterfly wing?” and “The red doesn’t really show up that well, does it? Maybe I’ll use a stripe.” At one point Partygirl was lamenting the changes in her figure, now that she is preparing for her fifty-third birthday. “This is the first time in my life,” she said, “that I haven’t had a positive body image.”

Ozarque has been hosting a conversation about how women are pressured to remain young-looking, and Partygirl’s remark made me think of it. We were talking about how many young women are so insecure about their looks that they fail to appreciate how pretty they are — even the homely ones — just because they are young. Ozarque had at one point bemoaned the fact that men can have signs of aging, such as graying at the temples or “laugh Elizabeth Catherinelines” which in women are called crow’s feet, without being thought unattractive, while women only get to be thought pretty if they manage to continue looking young.

Actual old women, it seems to me, ought to be able to quit thinking about their looks completely. I suggested this to Partygirl, who pointed out that there is a long distance between our ages and actual old women. A long space, that is, between when you stop looking young and pretty and when you become old enough to quit feeling that you have a responsibility to your audience.

“The granny look,” she said, “is not one to which I aspire.”

I know the look she means. Here is my great-great grandmother sporting it. Would she have preferred to look more like my paternal grandmother here? Did she ever even spare it a thought? I do not know.

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Ozarque said, “Nobody makes us buy ‘anti-aging cosmetics’ and hair dye. Nobody forces us to buy the magazines that are devotionals for Youth Worship. Nobody makes us try to live on lettuce leaves and radishes and the occasional scrap of dry toast. Nobody drags us kicking and screaming and pleading for mercy into the offices of plastic surgeons.”

I don’t dye my hair, live on radishes, or think about plastic surgery, but I did just buy an anti-aging potion from #2 daughter, who has a side business of selling cosmetics. It contains alpha-hydroxy acids, and claims that it will give a 50-year-old woman (which would be someone older than me) the skin of a 35-year-old.

Women of 35 are often already worrying about aging and wrinkles, though. I watched a movie while I worked on my applique in which a woman lamented “I went straight from being too young [to marry] to ‘What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you married?’ There was a ten-minute period when I was the right age and weight to marry, but I forgot to set my alarm clock and it didn’t happen.”

Many of the commenters over at Ozarque’s place are younger than either of the ladies whose portraits I have shown you today. Some of them have their pictures displayed (and I confess that I looked at one who claimed to be 36 and thought how much older she looked). Most of them seem to be making the point that women of all ages end up being expected to pay more attention to their looks than the want to. Peer pressure is a key point there. But, as Ozarque points out, no one is making them do it.