25 September 2009

The plunge that refreshes

Wednesday 23 September

I wore a nice dress today to school. It's one of my London dresses that I got this summer. It's just a dress, you know, in cotton/rayon with short sleeves and soft skirts falling to just at my fingertips, which is what is called 'a good length' --you know, not too short and not too long. I didn't wear a slip under it (it's lined) and so it felt very cool on such a hot day. Of course going up stairs I kept to the wall side. I usually do in a skirt or dress anyway. This is one benefit of when women wore floor-length skirts-- like my Colonial outfit for reenactments or the ice-cream shop, and you all know what I have said about when I wear that one.

Anyway I got many nice compliments. I will wear an actual dress maybe three days of a school year. More often I wear a skirt, you know. Of about 450 girls in this school, on any given day maybe 40 of them will be wearing skirts, and less than 4 of them will be wearing dresses. The rest wear jeans or trainers (US: 'sweatpants'). I try to get a little dressed-up at least once a week, often twice, but with having PE second period it's awkward, you know. Today girls in the cabana (US: 'locker room') had nice things to say about the dress. The colour is not me at all-- a deep, violet-indigo that's almost sensually suggestive. [giggle] I really do love it, even if I'd rather not be known that way... and I was pretty pleased with the attention if I absolutely must admit that.

Then, of course, it was hot today... so you know what that means. I drove us to school and we were to bring Josie home with us. She and Jessy were making up cute little dares all the way home for when we got there-- like, 'I dare you to jump in backwards.' --or, 'I dare you to jump in with your clothes on.' --till finally I said, 'I'll race you both to the pool.'

Jessy giggled. 'Oo, don't dare me to beat you, because I'll get in like this.'

Josie teased her. 'Surrrrre you will!'

At the house I got out of the car and then took my time, since I had to lock up the car, get my school stuff, and prancing up to the front door, and both of them were impatient. But it was only to make sure we all started at the same time, you know. 'Last one into the pool is a slug,' I said, and suddenly we had dropt all our stuff on the floor and were desperately peeling off clothes on the way out to the French windows.

I was actually able to leave the dress draped carefully over a chair and kicked off the shoes before Jessy got out of her jeans. So I wasn't last! Josie was first, dashing straight into the pool and landing mid-stride in the water. We laughed ourselves silly-- she looked like a cartoon scene. Jessy was struggling with the back of her bra when I dove in, leaving my arms and legs a little too wide apart just to savour the sensation of immersing myself so immediately. That pool felt great.

Of course being so close to the ocean (yes, about 40 yards from the back-bay channel) our pool is always a little brackish. Daddy says you just have to give up on this one. A little saline doesn't hurt anything and in fact he backs off a little on the chlorine unless it's really hot and sunny, when the salt content attracts bacteria. Today it was just about right-- and we would not have complained anyway.

Mother and J.J. got home with Lisa, who came out straight away. 'How did I know you guys would be in there!' she teased, standing beside the pool and stripping off. We all giggled at her-- she loves being the centre of attention, especially our attention. In some ways she is like an honourary teenager!

Then Mother came out with J.J. and put him in his water-wings. Last summer Jessy and I taught Lisa to swim the length of the 12-1/2-metre pool and now, 6 years old, she will do laps on her own. J.J. is 3 and of course less reliable in the water, but we were all happy to push him round in the inflatable thing. He had a good time and did not complain that all three of his sisters, and their friend, were all naked. Of course he never is-- he thinks it's for girls only, which, for now, is fine with us.

Mother lay on a chaise in her shorts and sleeveless top and read in Angela's Ashes, which was one of Jessy's summer-reading selections. As part of our rowdy games in the pool we all got out at one time or another and I ended up lying on a cushion on the terrace for what may have been up to half an hour straight. We all played with Lisa and J.J. till well after tea, when Jessy and Josie went up to her room, to FaceBook to their hearts' content, no doubt. As of right now they are lying on their stomachs and elbows side-by-side on Jessy's bed with two laptops in front of them and the fingers clicking away... almost as fast as mine are right now.

I wish it could always be like this... but a front is expected this week and then we will have autumn. [sigh]


22 September 2009

Long beautiful hair

Tuesday 22 September

'It's time for you to get a haircut,' I told Lisa as I brushed out her hair last night.

'But I like it long!' she protested.

I brushed it all down straight along her bare back. 'It's beautiful long,' I told her. 'But we always have to trim it just a little. You don't want it getting frizzy. If it's going to be long it's got to be nice and strong and thick.'

She squirmed, sitting on top of my bed wrapt in a towel and still a little damp from her bath. 'Is it as long as yours?' she asked me.

I turned my back to her and lifted my chin so my hair fell down my back. 'I think it's longer. You have a smaller back, but for someone as tall as you, it's longer than anyone else's.'

She mimicked the pose, letting me look at it. When it's still wet, her intensely-wavy, thick, lush curly blonde hair reached the middle of her back. She is six now and has never had short hair. Mother has trimmed her ends a few times, but we are all sure there's still baby hair in there somewhere. 'Is it longer than Mummy's?'

I smiled at her, arranging her part again and brushing it out to either side. 'Might be,' I said. Mother has gorgeous blonde hair, long, thick and curly like a Pre-Raphaelite goddess-- that's where Lisa gets it, although Daddy's hair is somewhat famous for being long and thick. In the long-hair '70s he joked that he had 'Farrah hair'. Some music magazine caught hold of that concept and more than one fan magazine said he belonged on a Vogue or Cosmopolitan cover. So I guess it's something in the genes, for all four of his offspring have good hair. Even little J.J. who has never had more than half an inch trimmed off has beautiful almost-blonde hair. Strangers who have met him have sometimes assumed he's a girl. Daddy takes an amused sort of pride in that. Fortunately J.J. doesn't get the reference... yet.

I conducted Lisa into the common bathroom and got out the scissors and comb and sorted out what I would cut off whilst she stood on the little stool beside the basin and tossed her head round at the mirror. I often say that Jessy is a pampered princess but Lisa's not far behind. Already she seems to enjoy her own femininity, revelling in her lush, beautiful hair and big blue eyes and perfect complexion. 'When can I wear makeup?' she asked once.

'When you need to,' Jessy told her then.

At the time Lisa only smiled smugly at herself in the mirror and then pursed her lips, to be cute.

She stood very still and watched as I combed off a bit here and there and clipped it very close to the end. Each time she turned her head from side to side as though to admire the change. I doubt she really noticed. 'That's good, like that,' she said, like any of us would to the hair stylist.

'Are you sure?' I asked, placating her. 'We could take a little off here.' I lifted a bit on the very top.

Lisa sighed, theatrically. 'Oh, well! I guess, if you must.'

I clipped it, batted it away with the comb, and then leaned down and kissed her head. 'Perfect,' I said.

She glowed, smiling at herself in the mirror.

That was when J.J. came in, in his pyjama shorts and his bushy hair mussed from crawling on the carpet. 'Oh, no!' he announced loudly. 'What's going on here?'

Lisa turned and smirked at him from the stool. 'I'm having my hair done!' she said. 'Don't tell Mummy.'

'Why not?' he asked.

Lisa turned back and looked at herself in the mirror whilst I brushed out her newly-coiffed hair. 'It's a surprise,' she said.

'And you have no clothes on!' J.J. complained, and started to go out.

He gets like this when we're naked in the house. At this point it's kind of offensive to him. 'Wait,' I said, and turned to him with the scissors and comb in my hand. 'Do you want me to trim yours?'

'Ew,' he said. 'I like it long!' And he stomped off.

'Hmph!' Lisa said, shrugging, and lifted her chin at the mirror. 'I like it,' she decided.

I'm not sure she can tell, but I can. Her ends are firm and golden now. It'll grow another two inches by Christmas and be gorgeous then too.

Lisa is no good for surprises and went down stairs directly-- still naked, I might add-- to show off her coif for Mother. Mother came up with her a few minutes later. 'Janine,' she said softly to me, guiding Lisa into her room, 'how did you get her to let you?'

I shrugged. 'I didn't think she wouldn't want me to.' Then I smiled at her. 'Do you mind?'

'Mind? No. I've been trying to get her to let me cut it for weeks. Now if only I could get the other guy to....'

I laughed. 'You'd better asked Daddy to do that one,' I said.

She laughed too.

Lisa called me in after her prayers and I went into her dark room and knelt beside her bed. 'Thank you,' she said to me. 'I really like it.'

I kissed her. 'You're welcome, princess,' I said.

'Do you want me to cut yours for you, tomorrow?'

I laughed. 'No, sweetie. Jessy will get it.'

'I think Jessy's is longer than yours.'

I nodded. It is, a little. I had mine cut when I was in 4th grade because of a stupid 'experiment' in which I cut my own bangs. Mother performed an 'emergency coiffure' on me that evening before supper, and it's taken this long for it to grow back to what you could call 'long'. Meanwhile Jessy, like Lisa, has never had her hair cut shorter than her shoulders and it's all the way down her back. There might still be baby hair in there somewhere too. 'I'm just going to leave it go for a while,' I told her. 'I like it long too.'

She lifted a hand and took a piece of it, feeling it as though she knew anything of hair texture. 'It's very pretty. Will I be as pretty as you?'

I smiled and leaned in and kissed her again. 'You already are,' I said, because it seemed like the best thing to say. 'Now go to sleep.'

'I love you, Janine.'

'I love you too, princess.'

When Jessy came in to trim mine later I kept her to just the very ends. I don't think she took a quarter-inch off the bottom. Don't blame me if I'm envious of the two of them.


18 September 2009

An appointment for pleasure

Tuesday 15 September

We've all heard the expression 'self pleasure' and we all know what it means. What I don't understand is why it's such a terrible thing to admit. Oh, sure, I don't think we should reveal all the details. There is such a thing as having dignity and good taste. But I'm sure most of us have done it, to some degree, and so I don't see why it's such a big deal to admit it when it's appropriate to admit it.

There are exceptions of course. I knew two of them at HOH. One was a very sweet, very friendly girl in Jessy's class. She was a good Christian and kind of shy, and once in a casual conversation when someone said 'Oh everyone does it' she got very red and admitted that she didn't. We all immediately felt very bad about having assumed that and apologised to her, and one girl in the group actually suggested that she didn't have to try doing it just because everyone else seemed to have done it, and I really do not think she has done it since either-- which for her would be a good thing. There really is no point in converting someone when it's not something that 's so necessary to life, you know.

The other girl was a funny, outgoing sort of person, in the class below Jessy's-- so at the time this would have been like 8th grade. She carried a certain notoriety round the school because in her ethics class she had delivered a paper on masturbation-- its definition, reasons for and against, religious and cultural aspects, plenty of Wikipedia sources, and her own opinion (that is, experiences) included. Fortunately this was an all-girls' school. The other girls in the class were all either aghast or else all in giggles. The teacher was not amused and our friend was sentenced to one-on-one counselling during seventh period once a week till the end of the school year. She was NOT asked to leave the school however and is still there (in what the US would call 10th grade), but she probably keeps her intimate opinions more to herself these days.

Then, of course, there are the rest of us. As sad as we were to leave HOH, Jessy and I have acclimated ourselves pretty well to a big regional high school in the eastern US. There are things that are done and not done here, just as in an independent girls' school in England. For example, you don't mention masturbation in mixed company. You don't say the word 'orgasm' in a classroom. And, apparently, you use the word 'pleasure' as a verb. (You won't see me doing that one... ever.)

Jessy would clear of her time on Monday night and on the way home from school (in the Regal-- I drove) she admitted she had been feeling 'rammier' than usual recently. ('Rammy' is our stepmother's word for it-- apparently it's Australian for 'horny'.) 'I don't why,' she said, 'but I just can't wait for this to be over.'

'Are you going to celebrate?' I teased her.

'Oh, you'd better believe I am.'

I got a little red then. But I knew what she meant and could well imagine her 'celebrating' on her own.

'Don't you ever get like this?' she asked me.

Now we do talk about absolutely everything. Aside from a few mild fantasies and whatever I choose to chat about online, I don't keep anything from my sister-- and even those things, if she were to ask about them, I would tell her. She is my best friend and, in a way, my soulmate-- we know each other better than anyone else knows either of us. So I can admit anything to her. 'Sometimes,' I told her.

She thought. 'We should plan something, then,' she said.

'Plan something?'

'Like, when we get home tomorrow. What we can do about it.'

I was ready to laugh. 'What,' I said, 'we're going to make a date to indulge ourselves?'

'Yes!' she said excitedly, and turned half sideways in the car. 'Can we? Come on, Janine-- it'll be fun.'

I made a face. 'So, we're going to plan to come home from school tomorrow, strip off, and--'

'Yes!' she said. 'I thought we could take our chaises out back somewhere nice and just... have fun.'

'Um... you do mean you would do it and I would do it, right?'

She made a face then. 'Ew. Of course. I mean-- ew.'

I laughed. 'All right,' I said. 'Well-- I suppose we could do something like that.'

'Good!' she said, and turned back round in the seat and shifted impatiently.

All day today she was a little too eager for it. We met eyes once at lunch and then she gave her head a pretty toss and blurted out, just as though it were apropos of nothing, 'Oh, I can't wait to get home today!' Other people looked at her and, of course, thought nothing about this. I knew exactly what she meant, and I blushed.

On the ride home (I drove again-- there was no way I would let Roger drive us today) she was practically bouncing in the seat. She kept coming up with cute little details-- where she wanted to put her chaise, how far from the house it should be, what she would wear, and then take off, you know. I laughed at her, but she didn't seem to care.

The day was stupendously beautiful, warm, sunny, with fair breezes and no clouds. It was ideal sunning weather. Tuesdays Mother goes to take Lisa to ballet practice and then she and J.J. sit and wait for her, so they are never home before 4.00. Daddy was working at the studio in Delaware, as he often does in the middle of the week. As I pulled up in front of the house Jessy raced up the front steps, discarding her clothes as she went through the foyer. I followed her purse, skirt, shirt, tanktop, and bra to the back doors. Out on the terrace she was already dragging a chaise out towards the garden gate.

'Come on!' she cheered, and stopped at the top of the steps to wait for me.

I laughed. 'Are you serious?'

She caught her breath and stood still for a moment. 'Janine, I have been waiting for this for like eight days.'

I laughed again. 'So? It's been longer for me.' My period is almost always a few days before hers, you know.

She smirked at me, her hands on her hips. 'Well, you're not as rammy as I am right now.'

I smirked back, from thirty feet away. 'Who says I'm not?'

She giggled. 'Really?' When I just shrugged at her she squealed. 'Then come on!' And she picked up the chaise and, in her low-heeled black pumps, her multicoloured stockings, and her bright red panties she carried the chair down the steps to the lawn.

To tease her I took my time, gathering a pitcher of cold tea with ice and two glasses on a tray and then leaving it on the side table of the back parlour as I got out of my things. Like her I kept on my stockings and panties and shoes. Then I stepped out back with the tray.

Jessy was just taking the other chaise over to the steps. 'Oo, good,' she said, of the tray, and I followed her down and out the gate. Out on the side lawn she arranged both chaises about five feet apart in bright sun along the outside of the garden wall, not over by the trees where we usually sit but where no one would see us from Lisa's window, the back of the house, nor even from the gate without stepping out. The tall marsh grass just beyond our shoulders screened us from the bay and the boaters (mostly fishermen) out there. Even as I settled into my chaise a pair of jetskis zinged by. They would not see us here in (almost) our altogether.

'Mmmm,' Jessy sighed loudly, exaggerating her comfort. 'This is lovely.'

I poured out and then set the tea tray on the grass between our chaises. For a long while we just lay there soaking up the sun. Neither of us had put on tanning lotion-- we are both so well tanned by now that an hour or so in the sun won't make much difference either positively or negatively.

'I wish we could do this all morning,' she said.

'But we've done that.'

We were both lying there with our eyes closed, sighing again and again. 'Mmmm, I know,' she said. 'I just love summer I guess.'

I smiled. 'I do too,' I said.

She started first, just caressing herself. I heard her sighing in little whimpers and would not have to open my eyes. I began then too. She was right-- it was a lovely opportunity to savour such sensations and neither of us would rush.

I won't give all the details except to say this. Once I read a romantic little novel, a long time ago now, where the author referred to the way the girl knew just when to lift her bottom to have her panties taken off. At the time I did not get it-- I had imagined they were standing up kissing and it seemed like lifting your bottom a little then would make it harder for someone else to push off your panties. I hadn't realised what the author had meant till I had begun exploring myself in my own bed, and I can say that after a certain point, peeling down your own panties has got to be the most erotically-stimulating thing in the world. For obvious reasons it's a threshold that, once it's crossed, you haven't got anything else stopping you, and knowing that makes all the difference in the world.

I imagine that for two people making love in bed it's the same kind of threshold... though I can't speak from experience on that one.

I do not know which of us arrived first, for we were both pretty well into ourselves by the time I did. Jessy isn't afraid to make noise, if it's only a natural reaction-- I tend to be a little more guarded. As I have written before, she also doesn't mind watching me or even encouraging me, and I find that a little tacky and embarrassing sometimes. I have seen her do herself, but it's not as though I have been watching. She will do herself if I'm in the room and think nothing of it, so it's a little hard to overlook sometimes. I tend to at least begin on my own, quietly, though as I have written also she has come in and discovered me like that and then stayed to watch me go on. I really have learnt to not mind that so much. She is only my sister, and she loves me. It's only self-pleasure. And I'm sure most of us have done it, to some degree, and so I don't see why it's such a big deal to admit it.


13 September 2009

No dates on Saturday night

Saturday 12 September 2009

The rain was so bad last night that several of the girls did not want to drove over in it, so we postponed our meeting till tonight. It really was laughable-- I suggested that Jessy just IM everyone and ask if Saturday was all right, and not one of us-- NOT ONE-- had a date tonight. Ha-ha! The good girls' club is not just a facade then! Well-- it is early in the year and the only one who is actually dating-- Anna-- was left home alone because her boyfriend was at work. So with Mother's blessing we gathered down stairs here at the castle.

Mother made snacks and so on, like she would have if we had been in 5th grade. We called the meeting to order and set the dates for some events-- our bikini car wash is next week and the Hey Monday concert is October 19th. We will decide on the exact nature of the Thanksgiving giveaway and the Christmas giveaway at the next meeting (in 2 weeks at Rita's). At about 8.30 we adjourned and ate snacks-- cheese fries (low-fat cheese), celery and tomatoes, pizza niblets and, of course, brownies, and watched the stupid Disney princess movie with stupid Selena Gomez till it was over. Two of us went home and then we were seven, plus, Daddy and Mother, playing Apples to Apples round the big game table. It got really silly after a while-- Jessy was nearly boorish with her constant silliness, which is surprising since she is in the middle of her time, you know. Of course Josie and Anna and pretty much everyone else-- even Mother-- was contributing to the silliness too and everyone was sore in the stomach from laughing. We always have a rollicking time playing this game and playing with nine people is by far a record for us.

It is now after midnight and I have been typing all this for too long. I am sleepy and my fingers ache. And I have church in the morning.


Some politically-unfavourable musings

Friday 11 September 2009

There was an announcement at school today during second period in observance of the 2001 tragedy, asking us to take our one minute of silence in remembrance. we did this last year too. At HOH in England we did not, but it was often discussed. Many Americans do not know how much solidarity the British feel towards Americans in their times of struggle and conflict. They really are America's staunchest ally. I just wish people would remember that.

In European history we began talking about the Angles and Jutes and Saxons. The class will skip all over, but it begins with Britain, moves round Europe, and ends with the 1939-1945 War ('World War II' to you Americans!). Remembering the 9/11 discussions at HOH I think about how little Americans really know about history beyond their own borders. It's a shame really. I have read 'Finest Hour', written when Mr Churchill was resigning from public office and thought he had no more political career ahead of him. He was the sort of man who would not have written a book like that if he had not believed he could have been objective about it. His true story establishes very clearly that Britain fought singlehanded against the Japanese, the Vichy French, the Fascist Italians and the Nazi Germans on five fronts for two and a half years before ANY appreciable aid came from America. And all through his book Mr Churchill pleaded with Mr Roosevelt for any help at all, and when it doe snot come he cautions the American president that when England falls, the Nazis will be at Boston and New York. He makes plans to take the king and Parliament to Australia as an exile government, fully anticipating that Britain could not hold out against such an enemy indefinitely. The surprising part was that, even though Britain was depleting resources, they were still holding off the enemy threat when the Americans did arrive. It is an amazing TRUE story that, I am sad to say, most Americans either don't know, don't care about, or don't want to believe. And sadder still is that so many Americans don't appreciate the support Britain has give them over the years.

I honestly do not know where to fit myself in this debate any more. I consider myself both British and American now, for my heritage and education (and preferences) include both places equally influential on my feelings and thoughts. I feel appalled that so many in America support 'multiculturalism' and 'diversity', but let an English person step into their group, or let someone suggest that being English is also an 'ethnic group', and he is shut up straight away. If every opinion is valid, if America is truly tolerant and relativist and liberal, why then are the English the only group that it's permissible to bash? --actually, they are the only group you are supposed to bash. It's never considered bad taste to insult the British-- why is that? What if that happens to be someone's family heritage? I suppose it means I am just another conservative white Anglo-Saxon Protestant-- the least privileged subculture group in America. I don't deserve any special rights like everyone else has. Supposedly I am the enemy of equal rights.

Yes I will probably end up at Delaware... but issues like this one make me long for UEA even more.


First day of school (again)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I got up early and put on the skirt I bought in Chelsea, which is a mottled grey, almost like moleskin, kind of short, really nice-- and it was marked down. I wore that with plain white tights (it was chilly) and a dark-green sleeveless top and a white shirt on like a cover-up (meaning not closed). Roger would drive us in together in the Cadillac.

Of course at the school there were oodles of people milling round the place, all catching up on what happened in the summer and son on. Josie was there and hurried up to us as we arrived. Her mother had driven her in (she doesn't have a car yet). She had asked us to pick her up, but of course that was not feasible since she lives on the other side of the high school from us, you know. So as we stepped out of the car and thanked Roger for holding the door we already had a sort of audience.

I am sure the new freshmen were the ones who stared at us. They do not know us yet. I hope they will make the effort-- we surely will try to befriend them too. The girls' club will need a couple of new members when Becky and I graduate! Josie fawned over the skirt (she's seen it before) and Jessy's whole ensemble, a cute dress in dark gold and navy with navy tights and her gold (so they look) shoes. The one good thing about the first day is that no one will be dressing for PE, so it's all right to get a little fancied up, you know. I mean-- Jessy and I had both done our this morning.

We walked in to the building with Josie, and then Paula and Rita, and then Becky, so we were like a posse. These cliques are something I always hated-- till I found myself in one! But, as I have said before, if we are a clique at least we try to be a happy and well-dressed one, you know-- and we do make friends. It's part of the club code.

My schedule this year is terrible and I have already decided to see guidance about changing it. First of all, I do not need physics-- I had enough science at HOH and the counsellor here did not consider that when she wrote my schedule. Second, I am stuck with the dreaded 6th-period lunch, normally the rowdiest period to have it because it is most common. 4th and 7th are nearly empty and my sister and most of our friends are in 5th again. So I will ask to drop physics and take something-- anything-- that's 6th period so she will change my lunch. Then, if I hate it, I will adopt a 6th-period study hall and keep the 5th-period lunch... because they won't let me change my lunch just to be with people I prefer.

I have British literature 1st, PE 2nd, art 3rd (which I suppose is lucky since I can arrive at less than my best, even a little late if needs be, and have all of 3rd to clean up for the day, you know), calculus 4th, choir 7th and European history 8th. In both European history and British lit I am signed up for AP. Daddy calls this 'appropriate cheating' --since I have had both these courses at high-school level before, because of where I went during 9th and 10th grade. This school did not want me to stick me into 10th-grade English just for the sake of having world lit, especially when my schedule also called for European history, which satisfies the core requirement for a 'multicultural' class. So knowing this material at least adequately will put me in a good place to have the AP test in May. I am actually looking forward to it already.

Speaking of college credit I am probably going to Delaware. I contacted them last week and indicated my preference, which puts me in the candidate queue, and they have already conditionally accepted me. I will see how my SAT scores from October 10th help me and then make my final decision in time for the typical November cutoffs.

At lunch we all sat at the same table we had last year. This is pretty typical here. A few people came round and asked, 'How does it feel to be a senior?' I never know how to answer that and really didn't say anything to it at all. Some people asked me why I sat with 'all the juniors'. But these are my friends as well as my sister's. This year we have Becky, me, Rita, Josie, Jessy and Paula all in 5th-period lunch again. Two other girls who are seniors have already enquired about joining the club. We will let them in, of course, but they will not be what we have been called 'growth members' because they'll get stuck with seniors' disease after about February and be of little help. I have pledged to keep the club a priority and Becky has too, but though we will not turn down eligible members we are not counting on recruiting seniors. The weight of the club's future success rests with Jessy and her classmates and the ones who are younger.

After school we all went in to Onancock and met for ice cream. It was a pleasant outing-- most of us were nicely dressed. Roger took us, with Rita and Josie, in the big car. The other girls of the club were there too. Whilst we sat there under the umbrella some guys walked by, saw the car sitting at the kerb, and sort of ogled us. I suppose this is to be expected. I was happy with the skirt and got plenty of nice comments on it all day.

The other girls are sort of jealous of our friendship with Lady B. Jessy and I had been reporting on our summer and had mentioned her. 'Do you mean she is a real lady?' Becky asked. 'Like, "her ladyship" and all that?'

I smiled at that. 'Yes, she married a baron. Although she was "the honourable" before that.'

'What's that?' Becky asked.

'It's another title. Her father was a baron too.'

'Ohhh. How do you get to meet someone like that?'

'She's an old friend of Daddy's,' I told her. 'She invested in a project of his a long time ago.'

They were impressed by this. But really to Jessy and me she is just a friend, almost like a fairy godmother really, for she has no children of her own and sort of dotes on us whenever we are over there. The girls at HOH were impressed when she drew up in her Roller (yes, a real Roller) and met us at school one afternoon. As wealthy as some of those girls are, not all of their parents have drivers for their Rollers, you know. But Lady B never makes an issue of any of that.

'She approved of this skirt,' I said. 'She's very hip, like that.' And she is.

When we finally got home it was nearly 5.00. Jessy got undressed and flopped onto her bed with the laptop to fill in her FaceBook blog and iChat with people. I dove into the pool and did my (belated) 25 laps. Then-- as you would know it-- I started on my homework.

Calculus. I've got to hate it.


08 September 2009

Labor Day weekend at the Shore

5-6 September

I always have three problems (let's call them 'issues') with this weekend. The first is that, having spent two years in England, I feel like I never know how to spell it. (That's easy. I spell it like it is observed. It's not an English holiday.) The second is that I don't really know what it's for. If America really wanted to honour the working person, they would levy lower taxes on him and enable him to keep more of his own money for retirement or the costs of living... but maybe I digress. The third reason is that it's a sad observance of the end of summer vacation.

Jessy, Josie and I have been very dutiful about getting up and going off to work these three mornings in our cute Colonial outfits. Josie has got used to the routine already-- walking down the street at 6.30 am with fishermen and joggers saying hello and then serving breakfast in the quaint little building all morning. Our menu is very abbreviated-- you can get eggs, of course, bangers (sausage) usually, pancakes or waffles always. We add or subtract to it to lend the flavour of a real 1750s-era establishment-- on Sunday we imposed a ruse that we were out of orange juice. It was my idea this time-- but we do it a lot. If you think about it, how would a small breakfast shop in New Jersey in 1750 have got orange juice anyway? It would have to have come up in the form of fresh oranges from His Majesty's colony of Georgia, and by ship, which would have been fastest, and so all you'd need is one bad storm or a few desperate pirates and that ship was not going to arrive. Any citrus product would otherwise have been impossible to have here, then. And so I went out as acting hostess and explained to people.

'Terribly sorry, Ma'am, truly I am; but our ship has not got in, and what with the traffic yesterday,and the day before, and we have all but run out of the orange fruit. Might I suggest the tomato? --for we have got plenty of it; and we know not when we shall see another shipment of the orange, if we are to see it at all this season.'

This is usually met with groans and whines, not amusement. One man said-- not respectfully-- 'You could go across the street and buy some!'

To which I replied, 'Oh, but surely we would not get any bargain on it now, this late in the season; and if he should see our situation for what it is, I am sure he would only take us for it. And we have got the tomato-- grown right here in our own territory, Sir-- why not a cheery glass of that instead?'

The man groaned and waved me off like a pesky gnat then. I am used to it. And obviously, in New York he is used to getting anything he wants when he wants it-- why then did he come to an old-fashioned place noted for old-fashioned service?

The truth was that we only had half of one half-gallon of orange juice left in the refrigerator-- details that will NOT go along with our 1750s-period act!

After cleaning up we find ourselves walking down the busiest street at the busiest time of day, sometimes in the costumes. On Saturday we changed into swimsuits at the shop and walked up to the beach directly. It was a lovely day, sunny and not too hot, and we frolicked in the water and lay on our towels and had a very pleasant afternoon. We were not besieged by any impertinent older men and in fact met some nice boys whilst we were out in the water. They had a ball and started this three-way catch game in which they had to throw it very close to the three blonde girls from Virginia in order that they might have a closer look at them-- but the girls from Virginia retaliated, seizing the ball at the first opportunity and playing keep-away-from-the-boys as long as they could... so there. They asked us to a party for the evening but we said we had to work, and then they did not believe that we all worked at the same place and that we were only trying to be rid of them. We did not tell them where we worked-- that would have invited disaster. There is nothing worse than when some guy comes in to the shop when we are in costume and serving 'in period' and tries to pick us up. The worst, according to me stepmother who worked there when she was young, was when they would linger outside after closing, lying in wait as it were for when she would emerge. For at least the first season she stayed in the little apartment up stairs and so did not come out at night, which frustrated them. One older man who stalked her that summer walked circles round the building between 11.30 and midnight, insisting to himself that she must have got away from him. That was the guy who became a problem for her later.

We had no such problems because Dottie, our manager, insisted on driving us home both nights.

On Sunday we left the place at 11.30 in the morning, in our costumes, and Josie wanted to play mini golf, so we did-- just like that. Of course being so dressed we always run into people who stare at us like we're Mennonites or just weird, or else recognise us from the shop. For the interested we always carry with us coupon cards to pass out, offering half-price on a sundae for the evening (you don't want to give too much away, and we give out a lot of those cards. It keeps the place full). All three of us were barefoot-- the booties are usually awkward to walk fast in and also too hot. The guy at the mini golf place knows Jessy and me and was happy to watch us play through in our long skirts and cute bodices and hair up under bonnets. (Fortunately the skirts are long enough that we can bend over to retrieve the coloured ball and not worry about having on no underwear!) We played just ahead of a mother with two little girls who just gazed up at us like we were real-life Disney princesses. We gave them each a coupon card (the mother included). They promised to show up that evening.

It rained a little on Sunday afternoon, clearing up just long enough for us to run (barefoot) back to the shop and open for the evening. Daddy showed up by himself, having just got in, checked up on things in the kitchen, offered to take the deposit and then just hung round outside, shaking hands and so on. People recognise him, so he's kind of an asset even though he doesn't always buy something. I think he got a sundae eventually. I was behind the counter most of the evening, but the mother and two little girls from the golf place showed up at the window round 8.00 and I made sure to remember them, you know. They sat outside. Jessy tended tables out there and once I saw her showing the little girls the costume, letting them feel the natural fibres and explaining to them how the bonnet ties and all. They were fascinated by her. Josie worked the verandah with one of our other girls and we had another, and sometimes Jessy, in the main room. At at least two different times the whole place was full-- even outside. And we had a queue almost to the street at the window a few times. Normally we count on almost two thousand a night, including takeaway. Tonight we were well over that. Dottie said it was due to we girls working so hard. I said it was due to a winning business strategy that, yes, includes girls in cute costumes who work so hard. And this income was made in spite of imposing an 'embargo' (as it is called within doors) on strawberry ice cream ('out of season'), bananas (we don't do that much in banana splits anyway, and it's a foreign fruit) and ginger ale, which we were really just about out of and so had to push root beer, the only other soda we serve here. The contrived shortages add to the colour of the place and remind modern people that, once upon a time, a place like this was on the very fringe of survival because of its location and its chosen trade. No shop of this size, on a barrier island in New Jersey, would have been able to sell as much ice cream as we do in 1750-- that's a suspension of disbelief for every customer thinks he is the only one to be so well treated. We don't have to tell them we made over three thousand dollars tonight.

Daddy, Mother, Lisa and J.J. are here for the night but it was very late when we got in from walking up the beach in our costumes and bare feet. My good linen skirt is soggy and sandy and nearly fraying round the hem, but I will leave it like that for tomorrow because, after all, it's only in period. Then I will collect all my things out of the locker at the shop-- three skirts, four bodices, four shifts, two or three bonnets, a bedjacket (short cover-up) and about six pairs of cotton/wool stockings, plus the booties and slippers, and take my things home for the season. I will mend what I have to, undoubtedly make a few new things for myself, and use them for reenactments at Williamsburg and other places till the shop opens next year. Tuesday we drive home, after a day at the beach. Wednesday we start school.

[sigh] I wish summer would last longer.


05 September 2009

Rambles in the heat

Friday, 4 September

It has got hot again. I am lying here on the sofa down stairs at the beach house in New Jersey, hammering away at the trusty old iBook, and I have no clothes on. Jessy, Josie and I got here early this afternoon, after our Ferry ride and after checking on the house, and we were able to avoid the worst of the traffic. The guy on the local radio station said the Causeway was jammed about 11 miles. [sigh] Thank God for not having school yet; else would never have got here in time for our shift at the shop.

We put Josie in one of Jessy's outfits, the cute dark-green paisley bodice with stays and a pretty pale-grey skirt. Dottie put her to work in the verandah (the screened porch that goes round three sides of the place). She had never worked as a waitress before and made $18 in tips tonight. The place was really pumping all evening. We walked down the street in our Colonial outfits and by then it was beastly hot. Those two are up stairs... looking over their FaceBooks I am sure. Josie tends to devote a lot of time to Twitter. I don't see the point and have never done more than glance at it. I have updated my FaceBook with the best pics from our 'underwear glamour show' last weekend and that's enough for me, for now.

Yesterday we three had a delightful day, driving up to Chincoteague in the morning and spending most of the day on the beach there. We all wore swimsuits under shorts and shirts and were able to go out to supper later. All of us went in the water-- it was lovely. We lay on towels near a very nice family and ended up playing with some of the children. There were 4-year-old twin girls and two boys. We made a sandcastle and talked with the mother, who is a Christian from Maryland, a little north of the beach road. They have a vegetable farm and a stand on the road, and they have raised sheepdogs... so I told them about Stephen who has worked at the animal rescue shelter and is now going to UMES. Later some boys our age happened by and struck up a conversation. Jessy and Josie soaked up-- as you may well imagine-- and I just sat and talked with the mother next to us, till the guys had got their eyefuls of Jessy and Josie in bikinis and wandered off. Then the mother said to me, 'Am I keeping you from anything more social?'

I just laughed. 'No. Believe me. I'm fine.'

'Your sister seems to be interested,' she said.

'I'm sure she is.'

'You're not? Pretty girl like you?'

I shrugged, still kneeling in the sand, moulding the sandcastle with both hands for the boys. 'There are two of them. Let them have their fun.'

She laughed. 'All right,' she said.

Later I got up and wandered down to the water by myself. There was a whole row of people standing with ankles in the water, older and younger, and dozens of squealing happy children darting round us all. I stood with my arms folded over my tummy and watched them all or stared out at the horizon. Soon a guy came up and stood beside me. I don't think he was there just because of me-- it was just coincidence that he found that place clear enough to stand and take the shorebreak as it rolled in. He was older than me, maybe 25 or so. You know how it is-- you get the sensation people are looking at you before you actually know for sure that they are. I would think it was conceited of me to assume that, except that it's so often true.

'Hello,' he said to me, his eyes going down where any guy's would have, and then he looked me face-to-face. 'How are you doing, there?'

I shrugged and looked out at the ocean. 'I'm fine,' I said.

One of the little boys from beside our towels ran by and smiled up at me. I waved. 'That's cute,' the man said. 'I mean that he waved at you.'

'Oh,' I said. 'Well, I was just playing with him earlier.'

'Oh,' he said. He hadn't expected that. They never do, you know. Most men want to assume you are wholly unconnected to anyone else. I suppose it makes it easier for them. 'So,' he said, 'last weekend of vacation before classes start?'

I nodded. 'Something like that.'

'I'm from DC,' he told me.

I looked him over then-- clean-cut, short hair, decent shape, dull-looking khaki shorts that were too long, mild tan. Obviously a white-collar type from the city. I nodded then. 'Oh,' I said.

'And where are you from?'

I shrugged again. 'A little south of here,' I said.

'Oh.... Local, huh? I bet this is a nice place to be from.'

'I guess.' I turned then and looked back at Josie and Jessy who were flat on their backs and had not noticed this guy trying to chat me up. I wondered what he would do when he found out how old I was. Then I wondered if he suspected I were safely over 18 or if he would prefer I were not. Then I decided I didn't care to know that much about him, because this wasn't going anywhere other than a friendly chat on the beach.

The man allowed me to stand there on my own for a bit and then turned right to me and asked, 'So, what's your name?'

I shivered a little. Now he was asking for personal information. 'Um,' I said, and then glanced back at the other two. 'Excuse me, please.' And I turned to go back.

'No need to be afraid,' he said, with that patronising look they all get when they like to assume they are in control and you are being 'typically feminine' and feeling intimidated by a man who 'knows what he wants'.

I looked right at him then, still with my arms folded over my tummy. 'I'm not afraid of anything,' I said.

He smirked now at me. 'Then stay here and tell me your name.'

I nodded. 'Please excuse me now.' And I turned to go.

'No excuse for being rude,' he said after me. And I would ignore that.

After I had take a place on the blanket beside Jessy I told them both about him. Sure enough, the both sat up to look. He paid us no mind at all-- then, but later we saw him strolling the beach and he happened to look up our way at us. I saw that smirk again-- but I'm pretty sure he recognised that Jessy and Josie looked younger than I am and that probably made him realise we were all a little too young for him to be expecting tit for tat... or whatever he'd want to call it.

The first rule of being a gentleman is to never importune a lady. Never make her feel uncomfortable, never demand information or favours from her, never treat her like she owes you anything, never do anything that you believe she has to repay. Any man who can't be polite to a lady just for the sake of being polite, period, is no gentleman.

The man on the beach ought to have known I knew more about his age than he assumed about mine, and that I had already decided it was an ineligible match. Sure, I go to the beach to meet nice guys. I usually don't care if they are a little older than I am. I sort of expect it. And yes, it is sometimes flattering. But I don't care for being expected to give out information. And I always find it more charming when the lady introduces herself first. Then she has the choice of offering her hand-- a gentleman should never offer his hand to a lady first, because it's a form of requiring her to do something, in this case to take it. And when I first said 'excuse me' he should have realised he had just required something from me and said, 'I'm sorry'. But, instead, he behaved as most men do and defended his choice to be impertinent. He didn't care about my feelings or anything about me. He only cared about what he wanted-- which may have been just a friendly kind of chat on the beach with a girl in a bikini. But because he didn't care about me at all, he didn't get that.

I e-mailed one of my friends from HOH about it last night and she came back this afternoon telling me I did well. I had been afraid I was only being characteristically snobby and stuck-up, and she was like, 'What did he want? Where did he come from? Why did he chat up you? How long was he looking at you before?' And I got the impression from what she made me think about and how the so-called conversation had gone that he probably had chosen me to stop beside and speak to. That's a little creepy. And so I am glad I went back to the others and ended an already-awkward exchange.

We went back to the car without getting dressed and stopped at McDonald's for drive-through. By then those two had shimmied into their shorts at least-- I had not because I was driving. The guy in the drive-through window looked straight down at me. I didn't mind-- I am sure he sees girls in swimsuits all the time. So it was only at the Dollar General that I pulled on the shorts to get out of the car.

I am grateful for Josie because she shares our sense of self-respect and modesty. I know she likes to flirt a little-- she is, of course, a Gemini!! --but she is a very decent sort of girl and no one can fault her too much for appreciating a certain level of attention. With Jessy and me she is always a perfect lady.

Today we drove up Rt 13 in our swimsuits in the car, and when we got on the Ferry we went up to the top deck and sat out in the sun. People laughed-- but we were hardly the first people do to such a thing. Mother admitted she had done it when she was my age here too. A couple of people stared at us like we were nuts-- but really the day was perfect for it, and who could blame us? When we got to the house we had time to stroll the beach a bit before returning to dress in the Colonial outfits for the shop. Josie was actually embarrassed when Jessy and I told her we don't wear anything under the skirts. 'Really?'

We both laughed. 'Josie,' I said, 'you mean you never heard that?' I was naked and pulling on the shift then. 'Panties aren't old-fashioned, love.'

And we helped her get dressed, lacing up the bodice and the top of the shift and so on. Suddenly she was excited. And as we walked up the street to the shop people waved and hooted horns at us, as we do, and she finally leaned over and whispered, 'I feel so hot.'

'Hot?' I teased. 'I would have thought it'd been cooler than you're used to.'

But then she surprised me. 'After half a summer with you two? No, I'm very comfortable without, Janine.' And we all laughed.

Now it is very late and this laptop in my lap is making me feel feverish from its own heat. I shall go now. More later--


02 September 2009

Windows and the soul

Tuesday 1 September 2009

We have beautiful windows in this house. Daddy, the architectural purist, got them from a place that does traditional-house restorations. They are true early-1700s-style, with the correct flat 1-inch-wide mullions. They are not 'double-hung'-- only the bottom sash slides up. They are single-glazed (one piece of glass per pane), not double, so we rely on real inside shutters for added insulation against the cold (and for security). All the panes are the same size-- in the Colonial period the carpenters orded glass panes from England and made the windows to fit them. And they do not have regular full-sized screens.

All three of our houses, the one in New Jersey, the one in Delaware, and Terncote here, have the same kind of windows. When he was building the beach house in New Jersey, which was the first one, Daddy devised a system by which the screen only covers the bottom sash and the sash slides down outside it. The sash has pins that you slide into the frame to lock the window in place. The screen has pins you can slide back to remove it. I usually leave my windows locked up at the first notch (about 12 inches). My room is up stairs so no one can get in and there's just enough of the sea air to make the room very pleasant day and night.

It was very late when I went to bed (actually early this morning-- I won't say what hour!). I had left the door to the side gallery open as usual and the windows at the first notch, and the room was cool but not chilly. At about 6.00 am I found myself incomprehensibly awake. The dawn sunlight beamed in from above the ocean in a brilliant white light. Outside, birds were chirping. Trees in the side yards hissed in the breeze. The bay lapped patiently at the bulkhead. Far out across the channel and the island, the surf along the beach was the incessant white noise that is a background to everything you hear here. And I lay on my back in the bed, sleepy but alert, my legs apart under the sheet draped lightly over my naked body. I was intensely comfortable.

The inevitable came over me and I soon found myself massaging gently, with the sheet pushed down past where my hand needed to be. It got very powerful very fast and soon I was pushing harder and harder and getting anxious. I whined a few times-- I had not thought I could have been too loud till I realised Jessy was looking in from the door. Seeing me so engaged she whispered, 'Are you all right?'

I only murmurred impatiently, still going.

She nodded and tiptoed into the room, looking round for a moment. I usually sleep on my back with the empty pillow to my left, and she sat there on the edge of the bed and kind of watched me go on. Oh, she knows what I look like doing this, especially what my hand was doing. She looked down on my face with a sweet expression half of sympathy and half of devotion, the kind of devotion only a sister can have. I went on, holding my left arm up over my head, holding back my hair I guess, and wriggled a little to give my other hand more room. I think I whined again-- it was so slow in coming!

'Do you want me to help you?' she whispered, looking down into my eyes.

That gave me a start. 'Help me?' What did she mean?

She nodded and reached up and took my free hand, pressing it tenderly between her palms. 'Just relax. You're doing fine.' And she smiled a little.

I nodded, nearly breathless, and slowed down just a little. That did help. I had been too impatient.

'There, there,' she said, squeezing my hand.

'Oh, Jessy....' I sighed very deeply, relaxing, and it came.

She held me for the whole thing, till I was done trying and had no strength left to fight back the aftermath. When I had given it over she turned round and looked about the room, at the windows standing open, at the morning sun streaming in, at my pretty light-blue sheets pushed down till they covered my thighs and no higher, and at my hand still in place, my palm covering myself as though I were trying to be modest. And she looked back down at me and smiled. 'If you need for me to bring you anything, I will.'

I smiled up at her with a happy sigh. 'No. You don't have to. I'm fine.'

She leaned down and kissed my forehead, patted my hand and then let go, turning on her bare bottom and getting to her feet. 'I'll bring this closed, just a little, then... if you want.'

I nodded. 'Thank you, sweetie.' We met eyes then. 'I love you.'

She responded to that immediately. 'I love you too.' And then she tiptoed out, like an angel, as silently as she had come in, leaving me grateful for my afterglow.