I reported a few weeks back that our favourite Italian department store, Zara, is now selling on-line in the United States. Not too much time went by before I ordered something. It arrived today, and I was excited to open it.
Simple nice box. Cool to see the logo that we enjoyed in Italy.
For cardboard, this looks mildly sophisticated.
For probably a year I've been looking for some casual black shoes and could find nothing I liked. Of course Zara had a great shoe.
I was also very excited to learn last week that we can now shop Zara on-line! Zara is a great Italian department store that Michael and I really enjoyed while in Italy this spring -- good fashion and quality and not expensive.
To celebrate the launch of their on-line site for Americas, they have put up a "Dear America" photo display with a lovely image from every state. Check it out. These are not fashion photos, so you don't have to like fashion to enjoy them.
Here, by the way, is a photo we took of the Zara store on the Via del Corso in Rome.
A little bragging. First some background.
Last week at the wedding I performed in Nebraska City we made new friends at our table. She writes a fashion blog www.retailbitch.com. I posted a story from yesterday on her blog, and thought I'd share it with you as well:
Yesterday I was attending a morning meeting of the Mayor's Clergy Advisory Board for the first time. On my morning walk I contemplated three looks -- authorative, swagger (this would have involved my cowboys boots), or something fun, colorful, and fashion forward (with the thought that most in the room wouldn't be looking this way.
So, I went with a gingam shirt and brightly colored non-matching tie, my fedora, etc.
I walked into a room of 50 people almost exclusively in blacks and grays, even those dressed more casually. Good fashion choice then. Even the mayor said something to me about my fashion and the director of libraries said, "We didn't have ministers who looked like that when I was a kid."
By the way, I actually have a picture, as I had snapped one with my phone to send to Michael who was away. Here it is.
Our church runs the Evergreen Thrift Shop. Why support Thrift Shops?
From the article “The Thrift Economy” by Larry Hollon
1. Thrift shopping provides lower economic groups access to goods they might not normally be able to afford. Immigrant populations are able to dress themselves and their children with appropriate clothing that allows them to assimilate into our culture easier.
2. The thrift stores are giving back to the community. These non-profits are original examples of social business because they have invested in providing for their community needs – children’s health, job skills, feeding the poor and more.
3. Thrift shopping is appealing to a new breed of eco-chic. Social consciousness and an increased focus on recycling and repurposed goods are at the heart of a portion of thrift purchases. Many conscientious Americans are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment. So repurposing clothing and other household items is seen as a green alternative. In addition, shopping takes on a new “feel good, do good” experience when you know you are contributing to a charity that you believe in.
4. Thrift shopping has a global impact. Have you ever given thought to what happens to the unsalable goods from thrift shops? Or have you seen someone in Africa wearing a t-shirt from your community and wonder how it got there? About half the garments donated to places like The Salvation Army eventually wind up in overseas market stalls or as industrial fiber. That second life translates into 17,000 jobs in the United States, an estimated 100,000 jobs in Africa’s informal economy and a multi-national trade in second-hand clothing valued at more than $1 billion a year. Between 1999 and 2003, the U.S. exported nearly 7 billion pounds of used clothing and worn textiles.
Social enterprise provides the ability to help on many levels. So when you are thinking about clearing out your closet or purchasing a new garment, think thrift and think social.
With one more full day and one night left in our Roman stay, we had a simpler agenda for the day, plus we'd have to spend some time that evening packing. The morning began with another walk across the Tiber toward the Vatican, this time to visit St. Peter's basilica.
In 94 I visited the basilica three times -- the first day when our tour guide took us on a quick city tour, the next day for mass led by Pope John Paul II, and the third when our group returned for a slower-paced visit.
Despite this being my fourth time to enter the room, I gasped and grabbed for my pearls, dazzled by its scope and elegant beauty. Unlike so many churches decorated in the Baroque and thus gaudy, St. Peter's feels restrained, light, and airy. Some of this is because of sheer size. The pieces that might appear gaudy in smaller spaces, work in here. The restrained use of colour, which allows the gold elements to reflect the natural light, was a smart choice.
Though Michael's reaction was not as strong as mine, he too was taken with the building and went about taking many photos. I enjoyed our conversations as we discussed various elements.
My dear friend Rob Howard is a great admirer of John XXIII's, who now beatified rests in the basilica. So, I took some pictures beside his tomb for Rob's sake. John is in the same side chapel with Pius X whose body is visible through a glass coffin. That intrigued me in 94, but did nothing for me now. It was odd watching all the people gather around Pius and take pictures, while ignoring the far more important John XXIII. Some looked oddly at us as we were taking our pictures with him.
During the trip planning Michael had worried about how we were going to see the Royal Wedding. Fortunately, the night before, while passing an Irish pub in our neighborhood, we had seen their notice that they would be showing the wedding beginning at 10. We arrived shortly after 11, which was perfect timing, as the wedding party was just then beginning to drive over to the Abbey. Our waiter remarked, "When in Rome, go to an Irish pub and watch the British Royal Wedding."
The pub was filled mostly with Brits and a few Americans, and fortunately the wedding coincided with the lunch hour. It was also fun watching other passers-by on the street stop and watch from the window every now and then.
We really liked the wedding quite a bit. The trees in the Abbey were a nice touch, and I thought that the Bishop of London delivered an excellent sermon. I have since copied and saved it for myself, as I intend to steal some of his lines for use in my wedding services.
From lunch, we strolled up to the Tiber and along it, past the tomb of Augustus to the Piazza del Popolo and then up into the Borghese Gardens. We spent the afternoon idling away the hours in the gardens, including seeing more spectacular pines of Rome. Circling the pond, we saw a family canoeing who had also been at the Irish pub watching the wedding. We hailed one another.
This became a minor theme for a few days on the trip, seeing people multiple times, despite being in large cities. The funniest was a beautiful young Australian couple whom we saw a total of four different times -- waiting in line to get into the Vatican Museum, later that afternoon still in the Museum as we were leaving, later that night as we were out walking we passed them having dinner outside at a restaurant, and then two days later they were seated two rows away from us on the train to Naples. Throughout the rest of the trip, we kept expecting them to appear again, but they did not. We never spoke to them.
The visit to the gardens was restful, until I made a mad dash for a restroom, and couldn't find one and sent us in a wild goose chase that would have been shortened by simply heading back to where we had last seen one. Michael handled this with great aplomb, but clearly I can at times be a frustrating traveling companion.
As 5:00 rolled around and time for the evening passegiata, we were ideally placed back in the Piazza del Popolo to take the "la dolce vita" stroll down the Via del Corso and entertain ourselves with our first serious shopping of the trip. We bought scarves, a tie, cologne, and undies, and really enjoyed some of the Roman department stores and new brands we encountered.
In 94 I had found the Romans to be impeccably well-dressed, and though styles are not as formal as they were seventeen years ago, there is a very strong fashion sense in Rome (Florence we found to be very casual in dress). Fortunately there are reasonably priced, fashionable clothes, which explains how everyone can be so well dressed. The standard look for young men is tight jeans, very well tailored suits with the jacket that is cut shorter than the standard, traditional length, aviator sun glasses, scarves, and prominent hair. The current American fashion trend of hats does not seem to exist in Italy, and I think it is because they like showing off their hair. Michael and I both didn't feel fashionable or in-shape compared to the Italians.
We concluded the evening with dinner back at the restaurant we had enjoyed our first night in Rome. It was just around the corner from our B&B. I had steak. Then we headed back to our hotel room, packed, and collapsed exhausted. The next day we must leave early and make the quick transition back to the train station for our train to Naples.
Oh, and here is one more shot of the stunning pines of Rome, this time in the Borghese Gardens:
Queerty explores whether Target just proved that the HRC Equality Index is worthless as buying guide.
I have not joined the Target boycott. I'm still thinking about it. Am I to then shop at Wal-Mart, which has a worse record and all sorts of other things that bother me (but I still shop there on occassion)? Target has much that I do value, including good policies for how they treat LGBT employees.
In a world of sin every institution participates in evil. We all do. There is no way to exempt ourselves from it. That is why we stand in need of grace.
I've joined plenty of boycotts, especially when the act is egregious and I am free to make other choices. But sometimes we aren't free. And Christian theology teaches us that.
What a wonderful first Saturday in December it was. Wouldn't you agree?
In the late afternoon we met up with Ben & Daniel at City Arts Center for the annual pottery sale. Michael and I finally found a cookie jar -- we've been looking since last Spring. Michael also picked out a few other things he liked. They currently have two fantastic exhibits. One is the art of Donald G. Longcrier. His installations have texture which tempts you to touch and play with them (though you shouldn't, of course). Some of these pieces belong in a museum of contemporary art, they are that nice. The other exhibit is the UCO design students' senior show, filled with imaginative, exciting presentations.
After some early evening coffee, we then headed to Cafe Picasso, the new restaurant in the Paseo, where Galileo's used to be. We were very impressed. Both appetizers we ordered, the pretzel and the sampler (humus, tampenade, and spinach dip) were very good. Michael and Ben really enjoyed the Chicken-Fried Portabello Mushroom. Now we have a new neighborhood favourite.
Dinner was followed with a stop by the Christmas party and ornament sale at the Red Cup. Michael and I purchased a knitted red cup, in memory of that being the location of our first date.
We then went driving around to look at Christmas lights. We were in Crown Heights and decided to stop and carol our friends Jill & Brian. As we pulled up to their house, the neighborhood watch truck was behind us and turned on his lights. He came up to the car and asked what we were doing because he had been following us for several blocks. We said we had been looking at Christmas lights and were now stopping to visit our friends.
Now we had a funny story for the evening. Jill and Brian enjoyed the story and the singing and gave us wine.
It was a truly beautiful thing.
Among the most beautiful of things in which it has been my privilege to participate.
I'm talking about Friday evenings counter-protest to members of the Westboro Baptist Church who were protesting a production of The Laramie Project at Oklahoma City University. When the first few of us showed up, the student organizers were quite excited that people were showing up. All told some of us estimated that almost 1,000 people appeared on our side throughout the couple of hours we were there. There were around 8 on the other side.
Elderly people. Young families with children. Numerous college students. A random assortment of people who stopped to join in. People in Halloween costumes. Drag queens. Suited university administrators. Bikers. People bundled up in sweaters and coats.
And the mood was joy, as we stood talking quietly, occassionally cheering someone joining the group or the honks of cars passing by.
We returned home for a lovely meal cooked by Michael, with Danny Hites as our guest.
Saturday Mom came over and we left here around 10 and drove to Tulsa to go shopping and have lunch at Utica Square. It was a perfect day in the mid-70s. I did some Christmas shopping. We then drove to Owasso in the afternoon, where I preached at the new UCC church start there. It was a congregation of twelve people, but we had a great time and a lovely meal afterwards. I preached a sermon entitled "To Change the World," which I will post soon.
When we returned home, we went over to Bill Wade's for a little gathering around his fire pit, drinking spirits, and roasting marshmallows. A perfect way to spend an autumn Saturday night.
We had Sunday's Big Gay Brunch at Tom & Jerry's with members of the Alliance. Bratcher was in fine form. Jake was recovering from his drinking the night before. Jon was organizer.
I spent the afternoon working on stuff for church. This was our Annual Congregational Meeting, and we had decided to do it differently this year. We combined our Sunday evening worship with the congregational meeting and a chili supper and held the event in the Fellowship Hall.
We began with dinner and transition with a video that Tammy Pinkston and I put together looking back at the church year. I had not seen the final video, but loved it and have watched it a couple of times since.
Worship began with a surprise announcement that an anonymous donor has pledged $5,000 if that amount can be matched over the next three weeks.
During the meeting portion of the evening, Peter Keltch, the church treasurer, delivered an emotional speech on the church's financial situation and a call for more to pledge and for more to increase their giving.
The evening wrapped with prizes for the best chili. Beth Sterling won and received a crown and sash that she'll be required to wear next year in order to hand off to a new winner.