Friday, October 17, 2014


So what's all this? Read on and you'll see. The "tee-hee/boohoo" souvenir tissues from our Virgin Atlantic flight of many moons ago aptly describes my emotions during this painful rite-of-passage. Now who in her right mind would consider all this stuff inessential to everyday life and thus unworthy of taking up valuable real estate in her pocketbook? So many treasures here that are about to be exiled!

Some people are "born" shoppers. They love the thrill of a new purchase. That would NOT be me.

My favorite clothes--the soft, preowned, cozy ones I love to wear--all came from the recycling room at the Meredith, New Hampshire town dump.

This was no ordinary dump. It was a state-of-the-art, model establishment of which even a summer resident could be proud. Way ahead of its time, the pristine Meredith dump had separate sections for each type of garbage. But for me, the highlight was the recycling room where the clothes bin had a special allure. It was quite amazing the things people would discard. For example, a turquoise cashmere sweater with just one elegantly repaired hole has, since the 80s, been one of my favorite garments.

I'm fact, today I'm wearing my flowered Liberty of London shirt with some matching blue pants, and yesterday I got a compliment on my designer linen jacket--all from you know where. Then for rainy days, there's the Louis of Boston silk raincoat.

Orvieto has an elegant but friendly new leather shop where I love to bring our house guests and watch them ooh and ah, as they delightedly make their purchase. Although I admire the inventory and take vicarious joy in their excitement, I cling to my own latest man-made fiber bag--the black LLBean one I found 
on a closet hook looking lonely and abandoned  by some member of my family. Practical but no beauty pageant winner, it has been serving me well for several years, and I had planned to use it until it gave up the ghost. As anyone who has ever bought anything from LLBean knows, this could take a while--maybe even the rest of my life.

So imagine my surprise to find myself admiring a "transformer" purse that can convert into a sleek back pack. (It may even be the same one that had caught the eye of another stylish house guest who was here earlier in the summer. The one who had a ball trying on many bags before emerging triumphantly with her selection.)

On this particular trip to the purse store my husband, a great shopper who has no retail anxiety, saw it first: the bag that cried out its readiness to dethrone my sensible black Bean number, and Cousin S and her friend C agreed completely.

I'm not sure why, but for once, I didn't actually obsess too much about whether to buy this "wonder bag" would be a good idea. Maybe it helped that sensible, discreet C, who  had arrived sporting a back-pack style purse was singing the praises of being able to move about with both hands free.

Our Cousin S, who has the same shopper genes as my husband, was convinced from the get-go that this purse was what was missing from my life. And in any case, after quickly buying a nice bag for herself, she decided she would also help me move into mine.

A quick study, she recognized right away that to buy the thing was only the first hurdle. Her visit would be over the next morning, and she wasn't leaving until I had made the transition.

GULP! Transitions have never been my forte, and without a lot of encouragement, bullying, etc., I would surely have allowed that new purchase to languish for quite a while before making the move.

But Cousin S who knows all about tough love would have none of my stalling.

I started the morning off slowly, staying in bed as long as possible. Then, in preparation for the purse-move, I took a few pre-move photos just to take the edge off, and started writing about what was to come. I noticed, for example, that my beautiful new transformer bag/purse/back pack had come in a lovely orange shopping bag. Inside that bag, was another fancy bag inside which was my new bag. Those nested Russian dolls that I like a whole lot better than changing purses came to mind.

Here's the outermost of the nested bags. 

Here's another view of the orange shopping bag that, several layers down, holds the new purchase. (In the background is a painting of a woman who would much rather be holding her first figs of the season than a new pocketbook. Furthermore, the color of that orange paper bag looks SO nice in that Moroccan bathroom that it seems a shame to have to tamper with it, n'est-ce pas?)

Here's the sensible, practical LLBean bag that is about to get the boot despite its being in near-perfect condition (never mind that there's a tear in one of its many, inner, zippered compartments. That slight defect just proves how well loved it has been. BTW, it's so nice and plump because it can e-x-p-a-n-d to hold just about anything a girl could need.) 

In true Russian, nested, matryoshka doll-style, the colorful orange shopping bag held a fancy, inner, drawstring bag that held the new bag. 
This is how it looked before I approached the hurdle of filling it.
Here's how it looks from the rear, with all its back-pack transformer features on view. A small tug down on the straps, and PRESTO!, it's an elegant back pack.

In keeping with the Russian dolls theme, Cousin S started out by offering me two little organizer bags from her own collection that could help me organize the stuff that would go into the new bag. But first she made me get a bowl into which I could dump everything inessential from the old bag.

One last look at these before they get the boot into the specially designated "you're not carrying this crap around with you any more" bowl.

Now what have we got here? Anti-stress ball in shape of a brain? Check!

 Dual-function anti-bug repellent cream complete with dopo puntura (after-bite cream hidden under the cap, just in case the repellent feature fails. Unfortunately, that happened so many times that there's no more of that supplementary product left, but that's no reason to dump the rest of the tube, is it? Of course not!) Check!

Extra supply of tissues for all the visits to the restrooms that lack the essentials. Check!

Homeopathic Boiron blue-tube cure for having eaten too much--a regular occurrence in a country where there is so much irresistible food. Check!

Pocket calendar for those of us who prefer the Hallmark-style, old-fashioned, pencil-and-paper version. So what if it's the 2013 one from last year? It can be just as important to know where you've been as where you're headed. Check!

Never mind the rest of the admittedly less exciting stuff at the bottom of the pile. But last and certainly not least, is the freebie fake French ID that reminds me of my beloved belle France--the very carte that came with the nylon velcro wallet, current whereabouts unknown, but last seen in the hands of Cousin S.

What do we have here? While at a kiddie show in a park in Slovenia, I was handed this "fortune" (?) by a lovely young woman in a folk costume. Because I only made it as far as Latin II and I am a fledgling speaker of Slovene, it took me a while to figure out what it meant, but I definitely was not about to discard it before finding out. TRANSLATION?: "BETTER LATE THAN NEVER." That lady in the long skirt really got my number! But do I need to carry this around with me in my new pocketbook? Maybe not...

With only a half hour to go before her departure, Cousin S was all efficiency as she coached/coaxed me into making the leap. Not interested in any of my charming back stories about my discomfort with anything but dump goods, she not only got me into the new bag. She TOOK its predecessor, the old LLB bag away with her! Ditto for the wallet with the velcro closings that I had found discarded by my son--the one that he and my daughter-in-law had tried for the past few years to get me to give up. The very one that he had received from a French friend a few decades before, and that had come with an imitation French carte d'identité. (See photo--shh..don't tell Cousin S, but I managed to keep that for old time's sake.)

So here I am back at the dentist's, where I am most Wednesdays. But this Wednesday is different since I'm  taking my new bag on its maiden voyage. (BTW, this is not the first time I have written about a maiden voyage in the context of my dentist. See 

So how does it feel to have survived the trauma of changing purses? So far, so good, although as I glance over at this beautiful leather thing, I find myself doing a double-take, unsure of whose it could be. 

And when not in use, doesn't it look great just hanging on the stairs awaiting its next outing?
Regrets? There's a post script to this story. I have to admit that I was having second thoughts about having failed to protest enough when Cousin S took my vintage bag and wallet with her when she left, saying that she would find a new home for them. True to my hoarding self, I kept thinking that both of those items had a lot more life in them and could have been put to good use, even if only for storage or a purse emergency. 

Cousin S must have felt some misgivings about that, herself, and reported that she had donated the bag to  a grateful fellow guest at the agriturismo which would be her next stop. That eased my pain a bit, but since no mention was made of the whereabouts of the French, velcro-enhanced, nylon, gray wallet with the endearing kelly-green trim, I am worried that it is missing me.

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