Paper doll box

Having made two long-distance moves, I have a lot of stuff in storage. So far, my parents, and especially my inlaws, have been very patient about storing it. But I feel it’s only fair to cull through the stuff sometimes when I visit.

So, last week at my inlaws’, while I was looking through old wedding announcements and AP English papers (yikes!), I found my paper doll box.

Drawing paper dolls is an eccentric habit, I know, but I liked to draw, and at the time I liked clothes. So I probably kept sets going off and on from third grade until college.  I think I started by drawing extra clothes for the paper dolls I bought from the drug store.  But I still remember that the first set I made completely from scratch: the Pillsbury Doughboy!  I made one paper doughboy for myself and one for my sister. Our doughboys were outfitted for everything from football to spy missions.  I wish I had kept that set, because they were probably hilarious!

I remember doing a couple more sets from elementary school through middle school.  These were usually  characters from stories and the clothes were often my idea of what I wanted to wear, but didn’t get to.  The doll in the photo above, which I drew in seventh grade, was one of these.  Looking at her wardrobe, almost all of these outfits were ones I would have liked to have worn to my new school (we moved a lot then, too).  Well, not the flamenco skirt, maybe.

But I also drew paper dolls because I liked historical costume.  I thought it was a great shame that no one dressed like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Sara Crewe anymore, so I made paper dolls of Victorian dresses. Sometimes I also dressed smaller 3D dolls in bigger dresses and old baby clothes, tying and pinning the extra cloth to approximate the silhouettes of the 18th or 19th centuries.

In eighth grade and maybe for a couple of years after, I drew clothes for one doll, who started out as a character in a really bad story I tried to write.  Looking at the doll now, the face is totally unsympathetic, which could explain some of the problems I was having with the story.  But her wardrobe!  Oh, my!  Her wardrobe must have served some purpose similar to that of Wanda Polanski in The Hundred Dresses. (I loved this story, about a poor immigrant girl whose classmates made fun of her for saying she had a hundred dresses.) There were so many I’d have to divide them into categories:

Here are: disco, historical, and summer cotton.  These first and last are sheer 1978!  Can’t you almost hear Abba’s The Dancing Queen?  I no longer remember where I got the ideas for most of these (probably magazines), but I do know where the pink floral patterned dress came from.  It came from  a shopping expedition to Saks Fifth Avenue in Atlanta with my friend Katherine and her mom. I found a dress that I really liked. They both thought I looked great in it, but I hesitated to buy it because it was more than my parents usually paid for a dress.  (That was back before cellphones.)  So I drew it!

These last photos are of paper dolls I did later.  I could draw better when I did these, but I think I had almost lost interest in the genre by then.  I think maybe my paper dolls always worked better as children’s book characters than fashion figures.  They needed a story.

Regardless, the first (blurry, sorry!) outfit is for a doll who was my idea of a haute couture model.  In fact, she looked a lot like the women from the Addicted to Love video. (If you get that reference, fine, but it’s probably not worth looking up.)

The second was a doll I made for a little girl I used to babysit.  For some reason, perhaps because we were in the Flashdance era by then, it has a ballet theme.  The sweatshirt logo says “Juilliard Dance.”  Not that I knew anything about Juilliard.

After that, I went off to college and the only time I ever drew paper dolls again was one doll and outfit I made for Sarie’s fourth birthday.  But Sarie was never as interested in them as I was, and I don’t know where that doll is anymore.

So, that’s my little tour through one teenager’s idea of drawing fashion in the 70s and 80s.  Looking back from thirty years’ distance, I think some of them are of dubious taste, but others I still like.  In particular, I should have bought that dress from Saks.


Last week in Georgia

Lessons of the week: 1) Badminton is so that everybody can play, but it’s okay if you don’t want to. 2) There are always a few dogs.  3) When Bob is “it,” watch out. 4-6) There really are fish in this pond!

Random photos from yesterday evening

As if we’d entered a post-oil age, this photo shows a non-motorized push mower (that’s Sarie, enjoying the novelty of grass) and kids (her cousins and a friend) traveling by chariot. Finding an abandoned chariot is apparently one of the perks of living in a college town.  (Athens, Georgia)  My sister’s family are absolutely the first in their neighborhood to have one.

My nephew apparently has quite an aptitude for chess, and Bob enjoyed teaching him to beat Sarie. (I think they went 1/1, actually.)

And here’s me, just because I rarely have any photos taken of myself.  I guess I could have smiled more if I’d known Sarie was going to take a picture of me, but I didn’t. I’m wearing a dress I found for $6 at a thrift shop, and a scarf-as-shawl, since I’ve now become Italian enough that I get cold in air-conditioned houses, even if it is incredibly hot and humid outside.

Georgia is one of three places we call home.  It’s nice to be here.

Performances in Castelnuovo

Here are a few photos (and one video) from the kids’ performances in Castelnuovo last month. They performed several times throughout the two-week program–solo, chamber and orchestra. But most of the photos below are from two performances their oboe quartet did in the center of town as publicity for the program.  The performances took place during the late afternoon as the shops reopened after siesta, which is usually a lively hour anyway. On the day of these performances, there was also a wedding going on, which added to the overall festive atmosphere. I hope some of that comes through.

A couple of these photos benefit from a little commentary.  First, the girls in shorts in the third photo down are all local town girls who volunteered to help with the festival.  When they saw us taking photos between performances, they ran up and immediately posed themselves, shouting, “Anch’io!  Anch’io!” (“Me, too!”)  Italian girls are…not shy.  The resulting photo made us all smile.

The kids had never met the oboist, Rajan, before the program, but they quickly decided that he was talented.

Also, the woman below with the poodle is the mother of Michael, who is the pianist from the kids’ piano quartet.  Michael attended Manhattan School of Music with Sarie and is an excellent pianist.  Their family comes every year and are a big presence at the festival.

(And now a disclaimer:  A couple of these photos aren’t mine, but I’m not sure whose they are.  If they’re yours and you want credit, just let me know!)

These last photos below are of Dmitri Berlinsky (Sarie’s teacher) rehearsing with the festival orchestra, and of  the Italian IAM staff with the kids’ piano quartet (All blond-ish, L to R: Lydia and Sarie in front, Michael and Matthias in back.)  I have to admit, Berlinsky didn’t play like he wanted to be there.  But the so-called “Magenta Quartet” (the piano quartet) did.  For the second year in a row, Sarie, Lydia and Matthias’ group wore black and magenta, the colors of the festival, as a final flourish to an already light-hearted program. They closed the final concert with Schumann to long and enthusiastic applause.

A third Fourth in Italy

This is our 3rd 4th (make sense?) in Italy.  And we’ve spent a couple of Thanksgivings here, too. So we decided that it was time to create our own celebrations of American holidays.  At the moment we’re in Castelnuovo with two of my friend Barbara’s kids, attending a music festival.  This is celebratory in itself. But we’ve also been planning an American style celebration for some days.

Sarie and Lydia bought American flag scarves, which are trendy in Italy right now.  (Maybe they’re also trendy in the rest of Europe, but I wouldn’t know.)

Yesterday morning they hung the scarves out the upstairs windows for a particularly bi-cultural look.

In addition, no one had any lessons or rehearsals in the morning, so we all drove up into the mountains to La Grotta del Vento, to tour a cave with some fantastic karst topography inside it.  Some of formations are called “drapery,” “bacon,” and “spaghetti.”  I thought they looked like candle-wax.  But finally we hit upon a simile that satisfied our entire group of New Yorkers: three-day-old city snow.

After our tour we went to a nearby trattoria and ate outside, eschewing the English tourist menu for the wider-ranging Italian one and ordering a variety of Garfagnanino cold appetizers plus some pasta. After Sarie told our waitress that she spoke Italian, the waitress spoke full-speed with a Tuscan accent. All the food was delicious, but the waitress seemed quite worried that Lydia and I couldn’t finish our chestnut gnocchi with sausage.  She almost scolded us. Finally I explained in the best way I knew, considering my limited vocabulary, “I’m going to sleep in the car.”  Considering the way Bob hugs the road on hairpin turns in the mountains, this was a high claim for the soporific effect of gnocchi.

View from just outside the trattoria

But how could our waitress know that we were also planning the most American Fourth of July dinner possible?  We’d been gathering ingredients for days: a bag of potatoes for homemade fries; fresh ground beef patties; sesame buns with cheery American flags on them (made in Alto Adige); Sarie’s favorite chocolate brownie pudding with vanilla gelato to go on top; and best of all, a 10-kilo watermelon with “Lorenzini” stamped on it, which Lydia insisted on parading through the main square in Castelnuovo, without help.  (The next day, she confessed that her arms were a bit sore.)

All our preparations were a success, but the watermelon was perhaps the most popular item of all.  We made an utter drippy mess and were considering what mischief could be done with the rinds when around the corner streaked the Bertolanis’ new puppy, Chira.  All chairs were emptied as everyone ran to give this new bundle of energy a tummy rub and exclaim over how cute she was.

Chira was followed by one of the Bertolanis’ sons, Gianmarco, three of his friends, and Mrs. Bertolani.  We talked for a few minutes, during which time I saw Gianmarco look around and mutter something to his teenaged friends about New York.  It was only after they left that we all looked up and remembered the utterly silly-looking flag scarf display in their upstairs windows.  We had a good laugh about the state of our dinner table and the American takeover of Tuscany, and decided maybe it was a good thing that we didn’t sing patriotic songs at the top of our lungs as threatened. Then the kids went off to the evening’s festival concert.

So that was our Fourth.  Perhaps I’ll post some photos of the festival itself soon. But it’s still ongoing, so I’ll wait a bit.