Going Grey – Not A Black Or White Issue

Pony Wears Prada

When I got up this morning, I put some water on my face to help me wake up completely as I do each day and noted to myself that for the second day in a row, my hair looked really good. On my way to make the coffee, I mumbled out loud that I’d better call Lisa to get on her books for an appointment knowing that my hair looks its best two days before it begins to scream, “Cut me” to anyone within viewing distance.

Most people I know tend to plan better than I do when it comes to scheduling a haircut. I’ve always been more of a wait and see kind of person when it comes to personal grooming which can sometimes leave me with scraggly looking hair.

This is not to say I never book in advance. I had a stylist when I lived in Atlanta that I think the world of and evidently quite a few other folks do too because you must always book your next appointment when you pay if you want to be sure you can get in to see Pat when it suits you.

I dislike making appointments too far in advance and for about five or six years, I had my hair cut in a barber shop where I could walk in with no appointment and have a seat on the couch until the next chair became available. I’d wait for the one guy whose skills matched what I was looking for and grab his chair when it was my turn. In all the years I had my haircut there, I never saw another woman in the shop unless she was waiting for her son or husband and I used to smile when they looked surprised to see me pop into an open barber’s chair.

Gone are the days when my hair was easy. In my 20s, I had a hairdresser in California who described my natural hair color as soft-golden-brown with red highlights. I used to say that it was California speak for brown with a little red and blonde courtesy of too much time in the sun. My natural color was nice though, and I only played with it twice during my pre-color years both with disastrous results.

Except for those two lapses in judgement, I never colored my hair until my early 40s and only then because I thought my shade had become lacking in oomph. My natural California color had fizzled completely to brown by the time I began coloring my hair myself and I did okay with the color bottle for a while, but after eventually ending up with a shade of orange-red to rival Ronald McDonald’s clownish coiffure, I sought professional help.

By then it was less about brightening and more about covering as my once vibrant color began to turn grey. Some people prefer to say silver and I’d have to say that silver may be a good descriptive fit for many, but I think aside from some interesting silver streaks around my face, the rest of my head is quickly going a bit more salt and pepperish and it’s not a look I’m sure I like at least not yet. I may feel differently about it when I’m older, but I’m not sure I want to give up my fondness for the high/low light system of blending that my hairstylist, Lisa uses to camouflage my changing locks.

I find it amusing now and slightly ironic that after years of struggling to be someone who could see a little grey in what I’d normally think of as a black or white issue, grey is the first thing I see now.

Unable to decide what to do with my hair, I have not colored it since December and while I might still change my mind, I think when I slip into the chair for my next cut I may feel like I often do when it has been a while, indecisive and unsure, and a bit apologetic for the state it’s in … sort of like I imagine the confession booth in church.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s really like church, I mean there’s no “Bless me father … ” involved, but I am aware that I do always say the same thing to my stylist when I first sit in her chair and it begins with the words “It’s been a long time since my last … ”

I know I’m not alone in the color dilemma and I would love to hear your thoughts and where you land on the color spectrum if you’d care to comment.

PS. I have to add that I soon as I saw the image I took the other day of a pony with wild hair, I knew it would be perfect for this post. I think it’s gorgeous and reflects the way I hope to come to see my two toned tresses one day.


Walking To Clovelly Through The Fog By The Sea

John and I drove slightly north a week ago crossing into Devon to walk a different part of the coast path. We left the car about 11:45 after stopping to pick up sandwiches and drinks and set off to see a part of the coast I’d not seen before. As it turns out, we didn’t see much of the coastline on the way to Clovelly, but there was still a great deal that caught my eye. This stretch of Devon coast was different from the Cornish coast path with abundance of trees being the obvious difference.

The birds were calling out to each other as we walked alone along the path and it felt more like the beginning of the day rather than the middle of it. I lingered as I always do taking “just one more photo” before running to catch up with John.

I was actually much farther away when I took this picture of him, but I cropped it later to bring him in closer. Look below to see me hot-footing it to close the distance between us.

John took this one of me just before I snapped the photo of him above. We could hear the waves below us through the woods to the right, but we couldn’t see a thing until we reached the bottom of the hill and moved towards the water.

I love it when we come across old buildings that make great places to frame a shot. Watching John walk past me, I saw the color contrast of the life-preserver, the signage, and the sea, and hurried to snap a few before running to catch up again.

I like how I managed to get this shot with John in the background. Can you see him above the far right edge of the pink sea-drift flowers?

Here’s what can happen when you rush to catch up. You can’t really see it here, but I’m making a face and trying catch myself from going into the water. John took this photo right as my left foot slipped off the rock and got wet. I’ve taken some funny looking tumbles in the past where I was protecting my camera on the way down. This was not one of those times and the only calamity was a wet foot.

A look back at the hill we came down and the empty remains of some old buildings that John said were used for lime kilns.

Later, we stopped in a field of what looked like mostly flowers for John to check the map. We were climbing higher and the fog was getting thicker. I considered having my sandwich there as it was getting later and I was hungry when we began, but John promised me a better spot so I put away my pretzels and carried on.

Coming into another clearing, we moved through a gate and crossed into a meadow with cows and trees that looked faint in the distance hidden still by the fog.

Hmm … my growling tummy made me consider the bench around the tree in this photo, but still I carried on.

After thinking we might walk all the way to Clovelly before stopping to eat, I came round a corner to see this special shelter tucked between the woods and the sea. It was a perfect place to have lunch and I said to John as we listened to waves below us still hidden by the fog, that this gave new meaning to the idea of taking your sandwich outside for your lunch break. Of course, I was visualizing the days when I was happy to grab a few minutes on a bench somewhere outside when I worked for about eight months in an area with no windows and the whole day could pass without my knowing it except by watching the clock. It’s easy to guess which I prefer.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the walk into Clovelly when the fog finally lifts and the view changes. 

Buttercup Madness & Mid-May Diversions

It’s one of my favorite times of the year in Cornwall when the buttercups go mad popping up everywhere. The weather has been iffy for the last few weeks and I’ve been feeling slightly desperate to see a color other than grey. Yesterday delivered big time so John and I went out for a walk in the afternoon after I finished with work.  I was getting ready to photograph him sitting in the buttercups when he disappeared!

You can barely see him in the shot above.

When I looked up to see where he’d gone, I found him flat on his back soaking up the sun. A few weeks ago the buttercups were just beginning to show up, and I wrote a post with links explaining why this meadow is so special to us. You can follow the link if you’re new to GOTJ and interested in learning more.

Ahhh … there he is!

John snapped this one of me while I was trying to get a macro shot.

We posed for a timed shot with the buttercup field behind us before moving on for a walk through the woods.

From this angle you can see the buttercup field through the trees. This area is stunning all year round and John and I often talk about how lucky we are to have this walking distance from our home.

This tree with its fresh new leaves was more beautiful than my camera could capture and too large to get more than a bit of it in the shot.

Walking on a bit, I saw a path I had not explored and was off down the hill to see the water I could hear below.

Again, my little Canon can’t begin to communicate how beautiful this space is or how the water rushing over the rocks in places sounds like people murmuring together, carrying on a conversation I can’t make out.

The banks and surrounding area have these gorgeous bluebells scattered all around.

After hearing John calling out to me saying he was going on, I hurried up the hill to walk the rest of the way with him.

We walked on reaching the village by way of the main road after we left the wood and we saw a common sight, where riders on horseback share the road with cars. That’s our village church in the background.

Have you got a favorite place you go to clear your head or find your balance after a tough day? Nature always does it for me.

Breaking Down Walls When A Sledgehammer Won’t Do

Yesterday morning I walked down the hallway from our bedroom to make coffee like I do most mornings leaving my husband John behind to sleep a bit longer. The path into the kitchen is not straight forward and as I stepped from the hallway onto the landing and then back through another door into the kitchen, I thought about how by the end of the day, the wall blocking easy access from the hall to kitchen would be gone.

And then just like that I went from visualizing breaking down physical walls to thinking about the emotional walls people sometimes put up and how I deal with them. Frankly, even I think that’s too much for a 6:00 am wake-up and certainly too much for me to be mulling before my first cup of coffee, but I couldn’t help myself.

Some of you already know that I grew up in a home of extremes, a place where my memories until I was 14 alternated between silence and shouting, and anger was meted out in harsh physical ways by raging adults who didn’t bother to hold back. Once I was safely out of my mother’s house and living with my dad and step-mom, my mother cut off all communication with me. I’m not sure there’s a bigger wall than a total lack of communication unless it’s death.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time and money learning how to break down the protective walls I used to put up. They serve no useful purpose after a time and much like the convoluted path from our hall to kitchen, it’s a waste of energy.

Not all barriers can be overcome, but given the right approach and commitment, the results can be obvious.

There are times when a committed attempt to chip away at an unnecessary wall will yield good results given the use of focused energy and proper tools.

One person can only do so much on their own and progress can be slow, but once a breakthrough occurs it may be difficult for the person on the other side to turn their back on the possibility of letting in the light.

Breaking down walls is hard dirty work. You use muscles that you may not have worked with in the past and even with progress towards a common goal, things might appear slightly cloudy at different points.

You may find you feel boxed in and think it better to try to climb over the wall taking a shortcut to a place where it feels easier to move and breathe.

But then you realize that breaking down walls can be easier when you work in tandem with someone else and when both people are committed to the outcome, the results can be seen much faster.

It’s good to know ahead of time that there will still be rough edges to smooth out after the walls are cleared away.

Decisions will usually still need to be made afterwards as you consider which doors you’ll walk through and which you’ll close off.

As you finish for the day, you’ll feel amazed by how much more open things are without the wall and you’ll remember that until it wasn’t until you tired of walking around it that you realized it did not have to be there forever.

Who knew that renovation could be a form of therapy … perhaps there’s a new business model in all that dust.

Through The Valley Of The Sheep – On The Path To Polperro


John and I set off yesterday on a coast path walk that was new ground for us. While we’d been to Polperro in the past, we had not walked the path we took yesterday. This shot reminded me of a trip I took the summer of my 20th year to the dusty Greek island of Ios. The lone tree with all the sheep around it took me straight back in time except it was cooler here and green, with the only dust being that our feet kicked up in a few well worn places when we picked up the path later.

It’s always easy to spot when you’re in an area where you may run into sheep. Walking the coast path can sometimes take you through farmers fields and while you are free to walk on the designated path, you must be very careful not to do anything that scares the sheep if you stray off it. Dogs have to stay on a leash and there can be serious repercussions if a farmer catches a dog chasing the sheep.

Sometimes following John can mean diverting from the path … ‘ Don’t mind us,’ I tell the sheep as we walk right through their seaside café.

He can often get ahead of me when I linger to take … ‘ Just one more photo ‘ an expression he’s heard me use many times since we met. You can see John in the distance if you look to the right.

Here’s another shot of John that I took while running to catch up.

Because we were walking through a field, we had to hop a fence or two to get back on the coast path … John went first.

Then I showed him my technique for climbing over barbed wire fences.

Not long after, we walked into this lovely space as we came down the coast path.

I stopped to touch the nose of the chestnut colored horse on the way down to the beach.

Before I went down, I turned back to photograph the horse on the hill. I liked the balance in the space between the horse and the tree.

There’s John off to the right … waiting for me, again.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day. I loved the lines in this photograph … that’s John enjoying the view for a minute before continuing on into Polperro.

Polperro is one of my favorite fishing villages in Cornwall and is different from others in a few ways I’ll come back to in another post.

We walked into the village next to the harbor coming from the direction near the tip of the trees you see slightly off-center in this photograph. You climb up and down a lot of hills on the path to Polperro.

We were halfway back to where we started by the time we reached this spot. Our goal was a visit to the Talland Church on the hill before going on to where we left the car. From here it didn’t look as if we had far to go, but as anyone who drives through the lanes here will tell you, a quick trip can take longer than you think and even more so when you are walking rather than driving through the lanes.

I was in a hurry to get to the church before the sun changed too dramatically as I was worried about losing the light. We took a wrong turn that carried us right past this view and I loved the way I was able to show the church and the fairy balanced in the same shot.

After a few more hills we reached our destination, although not our final one of the day.

The church was locked which is generally not the case with village churches at least during the day, but we didn’t mind so much after finding a well placed bench with a view of the sea.

Am I Blue …

A friend at work told me I looked tired yesterday. I’d noticed it before she mentioned it having seen the dark shadows under my eyes earlier that morning. I’ve been working more over the last few weeks filling in for someone who’s been out due to illness, but even with the added hours, my time at work requires a fraction of the energy required by some jobs I’ve had in the past.

I took a part-time job (one really I enjoy) to pay off an ugly amount of credit card debt I incurred when I was stuck in Atlanta last year and this week, I sent the last payment off to the two cards I owed.

You’d think I’d be celebrating, but I’ve been unable to rouse much enthusiasm. I also received an unexpected gift this week from a friend I met through work and it pleases me more than I can say to see it sitting on my desk now and to know the kind thought and motivation that prompted it.

John and I are both healthy and my family and friends in Atlanta are fine, but even with all the good, I still feel exhausted and blue.

My creativity seems to have disappeared and responding to emails from friends feels as if it’s more than I can do now. I think about calling family in Atlanta to connect, but even that feels like a struggle. Plus folks back home have their own worries and don’t need to hear me grumbling about some vague feeling of sadness that I can’t explain.

It’s not so easy to hide it from John and as I discovered yesterday morning, there’s no reason to keep it from him. After an exchange over breakfast that didn’t go well, I went back to his study and said that I may look happy and okay, but I’m not. I said I was feeling fragile, weepy, and sad and that I was going to need a little more gentleness than normal. He listened with understanding and is secure enough not to feel like he has to fix everything for me. Sometimes being heard is enough.

After running through a mental checklist searching for reasons and countering each negative with the bountiful list of positives in my life, I remembered what I seem to forget each year until I find myself deep in it again.

March and April are always tough months for me and with no good reason that I can find. You’d think after years of feeling what I’ve sometimes called ‘ The Easter Effect ‘ because of the time of year when it occurs, I’d be better prepared. But I forget until it’s here again sneaking up on me like it’s the first time making days that should be happy feel flat and difficult to get through.

I wrote about this feeling in a post titled ‘ Off Kilter ‘ in 2010 and after rereading the post and the comments it received, I am reminded that like Cindy La Ferle, I should be back to normal after Easter arrives.

April 8th … not too long to wait.

I wanted to share a couple of photos of a lone Grape Hyacinth that stayed with me this week during my gloominess. I found it intriguing that it appeared to be growing out of the rock.

I snapped the first photo a few days before going back for the next two because I wanted to show how it had found a tiny indentation in the long stone that acts barrier along the grassy edge of the village green. The most interesting thing about this for me was discovering how it was growing in the barest minimum of dirt.

Looking down into what was hardly more than a chipped place in the stone, I was impressed by the tenaciousness of this tiny plant and its ability to take root and bloom in a space where there was so little to sustain it.


I’m sure I’ll be alright in a few weeks, but there’s no way I’m giving up sugar next year for Lent.

Finding The Right Medicine

I’ve been taking this cough medicine every night hoping if I take enough I can stop coughing long enough to get to sleep before 3:00 AM. Added to that, I’ve been in the guest room for the last week so John can sleep. He didn’t ask, but there was no way I was going to torture him with what sounded as if I were coughing up a lung.

He even suggested I see a doctor when the cough became worse saying he thought I might need an antibiotic and if you knew how he feels about even taking an aspirin, you’ll have an idea of how bad I sounded.

Last night I accepted an invitation to a girl’s night out with some women who live in the village. I was so excited to be asked that I mustered up some energy and went. The hostess knows I’m a light weight when it comes to alcohol and that I rarely drink. Last night she decided to change that up a bit for me.

I think I had five Gin & Tonic’s over the five hours we were all out together. I arrived home feeling sober and relaxed and slept without coughing for the first time in almost two weeks. I woke feeling refreshed with not even a twinge of headache leading me to believe that perhaps the best medicine for a bad cough, might be the one below.

Internet Image

I think we may need to add some Tanqueray to the medicine chest.

Proper dosing might be a bit tricky, I think I can work it out.

Bottoms Up!