Leonidas said that he had read 200 blogs one afternoon. He didn’t even say it as though it were a personal record or anything. I am astonished. I only make it through the Yarn Ho!s webring about once a week, and have resigned myself to the fact that I will never make it through all 605 of the Knitting Bloggers.

And yet, by failing to read all the available blogs, what wonders might we miss? Elabeth’s blog had a link to this amazing thing: http://www.abc.net.au/tasmania/stories/s1212449.htm/ An old folk’s home has gotten together to knit a replica of a 1950’s room. An odd thing to do, but they explained that they needed a goal.

Not all goals have to be big and important. I think I have mentioned some of my goals for this year. I have nine in all. I like to have goals every year. They allow  me to feel that I am accomplishing things, even though I have done all the obvious stuff like getting degrees, having a career or two, marrying, and having children. And I am not yet to the point in my life where I have leisure to make new big goals for myself. So I have small ones, not important to anyone but me.

Some I have scheduled — Goal #6 on Sundays, #5 on Tuesdays, and  #4  is scheduled for summer. Others are to work on every day. The one with which I am being least successful is my most frivolous one.

At some point recently I realized that the older ladies whom I admire had one thing in common which I absolutely do not have. Now, I have to make it clear that I admire these ladies because they are smart, talented, good, kind, diligent, and strong. These are the important things about them. But most of them are also well-groomed. So I decided that I had better take that up.

I have never before had any desire to be well-groomed. Oh, I was always respectably turned out when I had a hose-and-heels job, but that was a duty. I was brought up to consider any attention to one’s looks to be anti-feminist, evidence of light-mindedness,  and generally something to be looked down upon.

Here’s a little history lesson. When I was young, attempts to make oneself attractive were seriously scorned. A girl who wore makeup, shaved her legs, dressed to be alluring, “did” her hair, or in any other way showed evidence of trying to be pretty was looked down upon by the other women. This might have been a good thing if the result was that looks no longer mattered, and each woman was judged on her character. But in fact pretty girls continued to have more dates, more power, and an easier life overall. So it wasn’t just a tyranny of the pretty, it was a tyranny of the naturally pretty. I don’t think that we had any idea how hypocritical and unreasonable this was. Girls put in a lot of time trying to look like models, but without letting anyone know. In fact, models spent a lot of time trying to look as though they had just gotten out of bed looking that good. This was called “the natural look.” I have no idea what the guys thought about it.

Well, natural Pre-Raphaelite beauty was fine (for those who were born that way) in our teens and twenties, and in our thirties we had a Bohemian charm, but then it is just a step to looking like a witch, or at least like Georgia O’Keefe. I’m not quite sure why I don’t care for this look.

It may be my grandmothers. One was an elegant Frenchwoman, and the other — though not in the least elegant — spent an inordinate amount of time when she visited us searching for shoes to match her rainbow of handbags. I was very fond of both of them, and it may be from them that I got the impression that old ladies should be well-groomed, even if young women should not.

That is my paternal grandmother on the left, and my maternal grandmother on the right. She is the one in the hand-knitted Chanel-type suit, and it was she who taught me to knit. I think she is wearing spectator pumps in this picture. I don’t know if anyone still wears them, but they were way more chic than my mother’s sandals and my sister’s and my sneakers.

In any case, it occurred to me that chances were that these ladies did not get up on their 60th birthdays and decide to start taking care of themselves. They dress well, they have lovely skin, they have hair that looks as though it were planned. They were probably well-groomed at 40. Heck, they might have been well-groomed at 20, since I think Audrey Hepburn would have been the role model at the time, rather than Cheryl Tiegs.

I decided to start small. I planned to brush my hair and put on makeup in the mornings. Eventually I thought I might buy new clothes, or some other grander step. However, I have not yet succeeded in the very small goal of getting fully dressed before I leave home. Oh, for a day or two at a time I can do it. But then I get busy, and the ten minutes required to make myself look like a grown-up woman who knows where she keeps her hairbrush — well, I just can’t spare the time. 

Well, it is only February. I still have ten months.