Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Shmata by Any Other Name

That's it, she's finally lost it. I mean, who keeps a pair of underwear on the counter by the kitchen?

It was the first thing I thought as I walked into the house. It was the first thing I saw as I walked in the door.

Turns out it wasn't underwear after all. You could see where I might think it was, though. Small, round, aqua nylon with a cream colored lace trim around the edge, it certainly could have been. It wasn't until later that night when I finally saw what it was.

A Shmata by Any Other Name, a look at change, life and beauty | www.BakingInATornado.com

She took off her blonde wig. A shock as I hadn't seen her since she'd gotten it, since she needed it. So perfect I'm ashamed to admit I didn't realize it was a wig until she removed it, put it on its stand in her bedroom. The whole time I was there I was taken aback every time I walked into that room and saw the faceless head on her dresser.

Off next came the wig cap. You know, that piece of nylon that looks like something you pull over your face before robbing a bank. 
Unnatural adornments dispensed with, I now got my first glimpse at what was beneath. Turns out it's perfection. Not yet an inch long and just exquisite. Salt and pepper with a slight wave. Grey around the temples highlighting her eyes. The eyes that change from blue to green. Blue today.

She is beautiful. Strong and independent and self reliant, and beautiful. She always was, but this . . . this is a different level of beauty. Maybe because of her inner strength, so evident these days. Or maybe just because of the nature of who she is, the dignity and grace with which she faces anything. Everything. 

Whenever just stepping outside her door, like to get the paper but not really going anywhere, she put it over her head. Not underwear, of course, but a little nylon cap. For now. Until she's ready.

A shmata (Yiddish for "rag"). 

It wasn't, of course, not even close. Pretty, actually, but that's how I thought of it. And it's her own fault. It's what she'd always call those tacky kerchiefs people used to wear and the unfair association, once made in my mind, would not go away. A sleep cap, a head cap, a hat liner, call it what you will, it is what it is. And I suppose thinking of it as a shmata on her head is a step up from thinking of it as underwear, so there's that.

But when she wasn't going barely out her door in the shmata or to the pool in her sun hat or out more formally in the wig, we got to see the striking tones that make up her new look. The elegance with which she wears them. Fitting, I thought, the artistic beauty of her new aesthetic, a gift even. She liked it too, actually, although how could you not? I asked, one night, if she'd go to the restaurant like that but not yet, just a little more length on her forehead, fullness around the temples. Soon. She will know.

Loaded Red Potato Slices, red potatoes roasted and loaded with ingredients similar to potato skins | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #potato
Loaded Red Potato Slices
Loaded Red Potato Slices, red potatoes roasted and loaded with ingredients similar to potato skins | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #potato

I will not be there when she first ventures out in her new natural look. I can't tell you how much I wish I were. I do hope that she will not discard her shmata, that she will put it away somewhere. It is a symbol of what was and what now is. It represents a past endured, dispensed with, defeated. It signifies a battle won. Again.

And although I will not be there to see the show, I've seen the previews. And I know without a doubt that it will be a hit.

Strength, in all of it forms, is beautiful. 

Especially on her.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Loaded Red Potato Slices         
Printable Recipe
4 large or 6 small red potatoes, rinsed, dried and cut into slices approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inches in width
1/2 stick butter, melted 
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 cup cooked chopped bacon bits

OPT: Serve with sour cream

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a pastry brush, brush half of the melted butter onto a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*Place the potato slices onto the pan, brush the rest of the butter onto the potato slices.
*Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven but leave the oven on.
*Turn the potatoes over and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top the potato slices with the cheddar, then onion and bacon bits.  
*Turn oven off and return the pan to the oven until the cheese melts. Serve with sour cream if desired.


  1. Would love to able to be sure you were there~ It's a beautiful piece and your love shines through.

  2. This is so beautiful, Karen! Drew me in so completely that I want to know this person.
    Be there when she ventures out.
    One of us needs to be!

    1. May not be me, but someone will be there for sure.

  3. I agree just so beautiful, a wonderful post that I so enjoyed

    1. I'm so glad these words had meaning for you.

  4. What a beautiful tribute! I am so happy that she is on this other side of that battle!

  5. Beautiful, just beautiful. Reminded me so much of my best friend. I'm smiling, thinking of her tonight. The recipe sounds nice, too. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. I'm so glad it made you think of your friend and smile.

  6. This made me cry! I love it!! I don't know how I missed it.

    1. I'm sorry it made you cry, but I'm so glad it touched you, Haralee.


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