Monday, August 3, 2009

In Appreciation of the Color Orange.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

Take a trip back to the “Brady Bunch era”, when sunny, happy, flower power colors led the charge in fashion, furnishings, and fridges. Quick, what’s the first color you remember from that time? Orange

Okay, perhaps it wasn't the most prominent color of its time, but may be the most memorable. I’m saying this now, but a few years ago I would have responded with yellow. Or maybe avocado. Almost any color but orange.

I’m closing my eyes and imagining a Sears catalog from 1971. Let’s go shopping for kitchen artifacts! 
Page 529: A canister set with cheery, cartoonish mushrooms in green, sunshine yellow, and orange.
Page 384: Screaming orange vinyl upholstered club chairs. They’re a neat compliment to that smart, startling white dinette table, ready to make that corner nook most attractive for serving up those micro-rayed suppers! Why not throw in a harvest gold refrigerator plus more brown than necessary, and the room is rockin’!

Well, trends come and go. And sadly, orange probably suffered the most when feel-good sunshine colors faded away. It just simply vanished. However, I couldn’t help noticing that orange has slowly made a bit of a comeback, quietly weaving its way into our lives, and winning some admirers. Yes, styles and colors do come around again, some sooner, some later.

As for me, I always hated the color orange. But then something happened. Maybe I was inspired by these kitchens of yore or maybe it dazzled me through fashion. Suddenly, I was buying a blouse that was orange. No, not peach. Not coral or salmon. Not washed out pastel. 

Orange. Loud and proud like a ripe, juicy tangerine.

My yet-to-be discovered obsession became worse. I realized I needed a warm tone to liven up the green, blue and purple that was taking over the décor of my home. Fabric! Curtains, with orange, white, chartreuse and, yes, even a shade of avocado. I fell in love with that material, bought a $100 sewing machine, and began stitching straight lines. My dining room came to life! That started it, about five years ago. The room finally felt complete.

It didn’t stop there. An orange stirring spoon with a cut-out smiling face for the kitchen. Orange pillows scattered about. Orange accent tables for the patio. More shirts where yummy citrus tones are the featured hue. No orange pants yet, but it could happen.

But I hadn’t yet started shouting out “I like this color” to the world. Orange. Somehow it crept into my subconscious. I had no clue what had happened to me until I was tagged on Facebook for the list “25 things about me” back in February. My #1: “I have learned to love and embrace the color orange”.

Whoa. Nothing like getting hit between the eyes. You’ve heard it here first; my passion for orange officially came out of the closet that day.

Tastes change. What was positively revolting one day can be seen as pleasing and energizing the next. Orange. It represents vibrancy, and shows off all its glowing glory via tasty fruit, sunsets, basketballs, “uranium red” Fiestaware, marigolds, cheddar cheese, pumpkins, the packaging of the perfume Happy and cape honeysuckle. Oh yeah, and the front door of my house.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Restoration Blues.

I have vintage patio furniture that needs restoration. A garage sale bargain: 12 “regular” chairs, 2 gliders, 2 chaise lounges, and a large table, all matching, for $50! Nothing like being green and giving these pieces a new life, right?

So, my husband and I went to a “famous brand” home improvement store the other day to pose some intelligent questions to people who, unfortunately, don’t know anything about the products they sell! Sorry to say this, but several years ago, it appeared to me then that the employees at the big boxes could indeed answer your DIY questions.

It wasn’t rocket science: I simply wanted to know if there was a spray paint that would stick both on vinyl and metal. All the vinyl slats on these chairs are in good condition, and really don’t need to be replaced, but alas, the metal is not.

The first fellow I asked told me to tape off the vinyl slats. Sure, there’s only at least 24 of them per chair, hmmm, times 16, equates to a time-consuming proposition. I said no, that’s not an option. He immediately grabbed a canister of spray point and started reading the fine print on the back, looking for that golden nugget hidden in the directions that would make me go away.

Alas, the nugget wasn’t there; so he put a call in to another “expert” in the store. Funny but this guy wouldn’t speak directly to me; he used helpful employee #1 as a go-between! I noticed that we both spoke fluent English, however, perhaps he heard a sampling of my Jersey accent, and this being California, my diction may have been alien to him.

My husband shot a “you’ve got to be kidding” look at me. I shot back an “oh, be hopeful” stare, complete with eyes that pleaded “have a little patience”. I wasn’t ready to give up hope…yet.

Well, hope went out the window. Helpful home improvement store employee #2 gave me a once-over, and deciding that I was insane, boldly spoke to me without going through his buffer. “The only solution is to remove the vinyl slats. Vinyl slats are flexible, they move, unlike plastic. Paint will chip off because of movement. You said plastic, but they’re actually vinyl slats.”

Oh. Good point. When you put your fanny on them, yes indeed, they flex. But hey, doesn’t plastic “flex” too? Guess it doesn’t.

I walked out of there with my head hanging down. Defeated. And all I want to do is restore and reuse. And do it myself. For now, those chairs will remain in the garage. Maybe I’ll call Steve the powder coating guy. And order new slats on-line, pre-cut, no less. My $50 bargain just had another zero added to it. Sigh.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lady, you are an inspiration!

I took a nice long walk this morning; had to hurry, before the sun was fully out. It was a bit toasty and humid anyway. But that’s OK. Walked over to my local park; just a few minutes from my home.

It was similar to a crowded freeway there. My observations included a varied bunch of folks: Several runners, a woman with very long black hair (past her butt) jogging while pushing a baby carriage, a very old half bent-over man with his 60 something daughter holding his arm, a couple with 2 cute little white dogs, an old gent with a baseball cap and thick, dark, wrap around glasses so you couldn’t see his face, a father with three young very blond boys, and a very large fellow, probably 300 pounds or more, with thicker than thick legs.

I said “hello” or “good morning” to all of them. Sometimes my greeter was louder, sometimes softer; got a response almost every time. Ah, but some said hello to me first…gotcha! It’s a most friendly place.

One woman this morning truly inspired me. She had short brown hair, glasses, a brown shirt, and brown slacks. The first time I saw her, she was walking towards me. I said “hello”. She didn’t return the greeting. Maybe it’s because she was concentrating so hard on walking. Being severely knock-kneed and with a body slightly bent towards her left, each step looked painful. During some of those steps, her knees brushed against each other.

I continued on my walk, all the way to the end of the trail, then turning around. After about four minutes, I caught up to her again. This time, viewing her walking from behind, her steps took on a special meaning to me. I started thinking about people who just don’t try, whether it be exercising, reaching for the next step on the corporate ladder, getting along with people, eating right, and well, the list goes on.

Not only that, she had no fear about being out in the world with her disabilities. I’m sure she’s doesn’t waste time thinking about what people’s perceptions are of her. “Are people looking at me and thinking I’m weird?” Nope, she’s just not going to dwell on that. Her determination on getting that fresh air and that walk has overcome any qualms she may have about her appearance. She is trying.

Well, lady dressed in brown, you are a symbol of perseverance to me. I hope to see you at the park soon, and I will again say “hello”. I’d be honored to receive a “hello” in return.