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belle Cultured Summer Music, food, theater and books for August.

August 2011 FrEE

Dinner Party With Gluten-Free Finesse Running Rapids for Summer Fitness Natural Details Ripe for Digging

Women in Business: Mother-Daughter Shops

FacingColorism Kiara Lee crusades to change perceptions.


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August 2011 STYLE & SUBSTANCE

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Nesting bowls, literally. … Mother-daughter business partners on Strawberry Street. … Beauty comes in green. … Boutiques get their independence in Short Pump. by Liz Jewett Lush Life: Shakespeare, picnics and a bit of Provence

cap off August in Richmond. by Karen Newton 11

6

Personalities

12

Profile: University of Richmond student Kiara Lee takes her

color crusade to a national audience. by Karen Newton 12

BODY & SOUL

12

15

Fitness: White water rafting in the middle of Richmond gets a body pumping. by Julie Geen 15

FASHION CUES

16

ON THE COVER: Kiara Lee researches the effects of colorism on society and recently spoke on the subject in Washington DC. Here, her face is painted by make-up artist Jonye Cordova to illustrate the oncetaboo topic. photo by Scott Elmquist.

DETAILS: Unearth these natural beauties for home

and wardrobe. by Lauren Healy 16

FIRST PERSON

18

Love with a stamp — and the man who won’t cave to technology. by Melissa Scott Sinclair 18

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Smoke ’em if you got ’em and other secrets. by Valley Haggard 19

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

20

Agenda: Idols, folkies, beach reads, raw food and more in this month’s to-do list. by Hilary Langford, Julie Geen and Deveron Timberlake 20

GREAT TASTE

22

Entertaining: A dinner party gets the full gluten-free treat-

ment with chef Carly Herring. by Robey Martin 22

food: A forklift’s worth of new cookbooks take aim at kitchen boredom. by Deveron Timberlake 27 At home: Amanda Cottrell moves outside for the

season. by Deveron Timberlake 28

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FIRST PERSON

30

Grandmothers can be va-va-voom to match Liz herself. by Julie Geen 30

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5 belle

August 2011 | 3 |


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belle


StylE &SubstancE Hot products, new ventures and local discoveries.

by

Elizabeth Jewett

Bo

w

le photos by scott elmquist

d

O

ve

r Anyone who’s grown tired of homogenous, assembly-line home goods will be cheered by the sight of Tasha McKelvey’s colorful, locally made ceramic pieces. Blending art with functionality, McKelvey crafts an assortment of items for the home as well as a line of jewelry. Just think how much brighter your kitchen will be with this set of bird-adorned nesting bowls. Various colors, $160, through Etsy, catalog and stores; find details at tashamck.com.

belle

August 2011 | 5 |


st y l e & s u b s ta n c e

Bring Mom to Work B

lue Elephant sells upscale consignment furniture and Strawberry Street Vineyard sells wine and gourmet foods, but the two businesses have a good deal in common. Both were recently acquired by their owners and are only a few doors apart. And both stores are run by mother-daughter teams. Belle spoke with Strawberry Street Vineyard’s Emily and Maria Jones and Blue Elephant’s Jessica Andrews and Patsy Margraf to find out what happens when family and business meet.

Blue Elephant

Owner and mother Patsy Margraf Manager and daughter Jessica Andrews Belle: How did Blue Elephant come to be? Margraf: It had been a dream of mine to have my own

business for many years. Despite the downturn in the economy, it just felt to me like the time was right. I’ve always liked mixing contemporary items with things that I’ve found from auctions, estate sales, thrift stores and other consignment shops. Jessica added the local artistscrafters component to the store, and thus, we have Blue Elephant. Andrews: It was definitely my mom’s idea. She was really into thrifting and antique stores and stuff. She wanted to open a store but she lives in Northern Virginia. Last summer she said, “I really want to do this.” And I said, “Yeah, you should, I totally support you.” And then she was like, by that I mean you can really help me and we’re going to do it in Richmond.

In what ways are you two most similar? Most different? Margraf: I think that Jessica and I have a similar design aesthetic and we are similarly inclined in the things we like to do at Blue Elephant. We both like buying for Blue Elephant and the same silly things delight us, like when a neighborhood cat came by the store for a visit and took an afternoon nap on one of our chairs. We’re most different in our personalities. She’s outgoing and opinionated, whereas I tend to keep my opinions to myself unless I know my audience fairly well. I’m more of an observer and she’s more of a doer. Andrews: We have really strong opinions. We have a really similar aesthetic, which is good. We have very similar

photos by scott elmquist

Could each of you describe the other’s business style? Margraf: Jessica handles the day-to-day business, and is the face of Blue Elephant. She is social media savvy and

has given us a presence on the web. Since Jessica has lived in Richmond for many years, it seemed she had friends or contacts in almost every aspect of business. Need a graphic design? She knows someone. Need a carpenter, a banker, a candlestick maker? Chances are, she knows someone or knows someone who knows someone. Andrews: Basically the way we have it set up is [my mother] is definitely the owner. But I’m the one who does all the day-to-day stuff. She manages big projects from up there, and she comes down at least once a month for a day or two to look over stuff.

| 6 | August 2011

belle


taste and style so that’s good. I can definitely kind of be difficult to work with. I’m really particular. She’s definitely a little bit more flexible. What’s the best and worst part of working with family? Margraf: The best part is having a common goal, something that we strive for as a team. The hardest for me, and this really isn’t that hard, is probably recognizing that she’s a woman and not a little girl, and treating her as such. She is, after all, not just my manager, but my business partner, and if I can occasionally pull the mom card in our motherdaughter relationship, I try really hard not to do it in our business endeavors. Andrews: The nice thing is the communication channels are already there. Especially being a new business, it can be really stressful, especially when we first opened. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But having my mom and it being my mom, versus just an acquaintance or a friend or working for somebody else that was doing it, it was definitely good to have the support. The hardest part is that my mom is my boss. If I make a mistake on anything or do something wrong it sucks that I did it wrong but doubly the fact that it’s my mom that I’m working with.

Strawberry Street Vineyard Co-owner and mother Maria Jones Co-owner and daughter Emily Jones

Belle: How did you two come to be the owners of Strawberry Street Vineyard? Emily: I was working here for the previous owner, Henry Reidy. I worked for him for two years. And he wanted to close. I had gotten out of college, took my sommelier exam, so I told mom. I think we had the same idea — the oldest wine store in Richmond — we didn’t want to let it close. We love wine. Maria: It was such good timing. I mean she had just finished college. She was working here and the [Belmont] Butchery and Can Can, and I’m going to be an empty-nester in the fall. My youngest is going to college and my husband works out of town during the week. Literally we both just went, “Let’s do this.” She’s the wine whiz. I’m the nerd who keeps the books.

Could each of you describe the other’s business style? Emily: Mom handles all the business, all the number stuff that is just totally over my head. Bills and all the — Maria: — Boring stuff [laughs]. Emily: But she likes that stuff. She sells wine.

We all pitch in and work hours. We don’t have any other employees. Maria: I had been calling Emily the wine whiz. What she really is, is the Wikipedia of wine. I swear to God there is nothing you can ask her that she can’t answer. I’ve told a million people here. Pick up any bottle of wine. Emily has tasted it. She can remember it. You have to be born with a taste memory. Do you try to teach each other? Maria: She teaches me about wine. I don’t try to teach her about keeping books. Emily: Mom tried to teach me about using Twitter. That did not go well. I just don’t get it. She knows how to Tweet. I can’t do it. Mom does the marketing too. Maria: I learn from Emily, every day, something about wines that I didn’t know. And not only is drinking it fun but all the history and geography. In what ways are you two most similar? Emily: I think we both have the same idea for what we want the shop to be. We want it to be a great local place. We have the highest standard for wine and I think we’ve gotten the wine to where we want it. I think we have the same taste in things. We both like to be here and like to work. Maria: And we really want this to be a typical Fan store. We’ll have people who just come in and chat.

It shouldn’t be intimidating. People have been drinking wine for thousands of years, give me a break. This is not rocket science. So don’t make it so difficult. Drink what you like. In what ways are you most different? Maria: She’s much more creative than I am. Emily: She’s older. [laughing] Maria: That was completely gratuitous. I’m much more on task. Sometimes I’m old and tired. She has a lot of energy and a really good work ethic. I’m probably the slacker. What’s your favorite part about working with family? Emily: You don’t really have to walk on eggshells. Maria: We know how to push each other’s buttons so we don’t. Emily: Sometimes we do. And we know exactly which button to push. Maria: I like the flexibility. We’ve each got each other’s back. We’re both going to look out for each other. There are no trust issues. Emily: When you’re working with a partner or a friend you do have to walk on eggshells. But it’s nice with my mom because we’ve gotten through a million fights. Maria: We got through the teenage years. Emily: The hard part of the relationship is over.

belle

August 2011 | 7 |


st y l e & s u b s ta n c e

Botanical

Beauty From Texas native Erika Hollen comes Jackson Sage

photos by scott elmquist

Botanics. Hollen, a former

Dan Grantham selects jewelry, accessories and clothing for The Silver Parrot, a new shop in Short Pump. Nearby, merchandise at The French Boutique includes chic accents and outfits not usually found in Richmond.

Village Boutiquery

Virginia Commonwealth University grad student and member of the Richmond Craft Mafia, launched the line from her kitchen in 2007. Today the company features eco-friendly products for body, skin and the home. There’s even a Doggie Sage line of healing balms and shampoos for the eco-

The Silver Parrot owner, Dan Grantham, stands at the doors of his newly opened West Broad Village clothing and accessories boutique and casts an appraising glance up and down the street. “It’s supposedly going to be the next up-and-coming little shopping village,” he says. “Everything’s getting ready to blossom here.” Such hopeful notes may have sounded disingenuous just a year or two earlier, yet for the first time since its development it seems West Broad Village may be ready to fulfill its potential. The owners of the Silver Parrot and the French Boutique are banking on it. Newly opened this summer, the Silver Parrot specializes in clothes that Grantham describes as “funky, unusual stuff — not what you’d see at department stores.” He hopes people will venture away from the mall, walk through the doors of his brightly colored, tropical-vibe boutique, and feel like they’re “on vacation when they’re in here.” Grantham, with a jewelry background, searches the country for unusual finds for women of all ages, including items as varied as brightly patterned sundresses and floppy straw hats. He also supplies the shop with handcrafted jewelry, made with everything from diamonds to “vintage, 1700s pirate coins.” Across the street, the French Boutique offers slightly more muted but no less distinctive finds. Open since September, the store’s motto is “unique and oh-so chic.” Top-selling brands include Vineyard Vines, Judith March and Three Sisters. The Silver Parrot is at 2226 Old Brick Road in Glen Allen; the French Boutique is at 2243 Old Brick Road, thefrenchboutique.net. | 8 | August 2011

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conscious pooch in your life. Hollen mixes traditional ingredients such as lavender and rosemary with more unusual finds such as shitake extract and green sencha leaf. Her business also sells products to match specific needs in a woman’s life, everything from postworkout bath salts to a happiness soap made with French pink clay and jojoba meal. Products can be ordered online through jacksonsage.com.


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Your one stop shop! 3020 W. Cary St • 804-355-5425 www.lexsofcarytown.com

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Women in the Arts 2011 Honoring trailblazers in Richmond arts and culture

belle | 10 | august 2011

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belle


Lush Life

Latin jazz, Shakespeare and faraway flavors cap off August in Richmond.

F

by

Karen Newton

or the dog days of August, you can enjoy full-on summer mode with entertainment outside or seek the sanctuary of the much cooler indoors to have your fun. Because I like to keep all my options open, my suggestions for the last month of summer cover both. Just remember that by January, everyone will complain about the cold and outside won’t be nearly as alluring.

Savory tastes of Provence play well with wine at Can Can Brasserie.

Salsa, conga and lunch on a Frisbee: A satisfying way to pass a day at Dogwood Dell is the fourth annual Latin Jazz Festival on Aug. 14 from 1-7 p.m. Novices and lovers of Latin music alike will get into Frank Morales, Melena “La Rumbera” and her Congo Descarga Show, the Herbie Martinez Orchestra and Allen Hidalgo, among others. As I discovered at last year’s festival, the center court of the amphitheater becomes a dance pavilion when slinky-hipped audience members, unable to resist the beat, become part of the show. This year there also will be a live conga jam session featuring some of the area’s finest percussionists. Since you’ll need to eat during the course of the day, check out the new concession stand by Fountain Lake. Pete’s Catering offers plenty of boxed lunch options (which can come on a Frisbee rather than in a box, should you be inclined toward a little disk-throwing in-between Latin sets) that come with desserts. I vote for the chocolate pudding, but they also have blueberry muffins. Big sounds from a duo worth discovering: If you’re not inclined to spend any more time outside than absolutely necessary, head to the air-conditioned comfort of The Listening Room at the Firehouse Theater on Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m. This month’s show is curated by local musician Matt Klimas of the Low Branches and Snowy Owls. He’s chosen Staunton’s Cinnamon Band to headline, and if you haven’t seen these guys, I strongly recommend it before the band breaks nationally and you have to pay what it’s worth to see them. Also on the bill are Knoxville’s Stolen Sheep and local Clint Maul, so this free night of music is a summertime musical gift. Coffee, tea and pastries are gratis at the Listening Room, but consider making a donation to the traveling bands or buying their CDs to help support the independent music scene. A taste of Provence in Carytown: But enough with all this culture; this is also a fine month to just eat and drink. On Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m., Can Can will hold a Provence wine dinner. Because most of us can’t be on the coast of the Mediterranean this month, why not savor its flavors and wines here? These monthly events always begin with hors d’oeuvres before moving through three savory courses with wine pairings. And even though dessert isn’t one of the courses, with Can Can’s excellent dessert list, you’ll have one more reason to linger inside while the August night simmers outside. But do take note of the waning light from inside the brasserie. The days are getting shorter and every last August evening should be a reason to appreciate the pleasures of a Richmond summer.

Melena “La Rumbera” brings the Conga Descarga Show to Dogwood Dell.

Lunch on a Frisbee makes Fountain Lake a summer destination.

scott elmquist

Cinnamon Band plays The Listening Room this month.

Bard and a summer repast at the Dell: What’s more appealing or traditional than a summertime picnic in Dogwood Dell? Richmond Shakespeare presents a free performance of “Twelfth Night” on Aug. 9 at 8:30 p.m. Like any good Shakespearean comedy, there are mistaken identities, drunken men talking big, and boisterous dancing. It’s a play about overall self-indulgence. Stop by Carytown to pack your picnic basket. Mom’s Siam will have take-out ready for you in no time, or River City Cellars can hook you up with cheese, bread and wine, if that’s more your style. Plan to arrive early to find your perfect spot in the amphitheater. Blankets are fine, but most people find chairs much more comfortable for the duration of an evening’s performance.

belle

August 2011 | 11 |


personalities

profile

Beauty Is Colorblind Kiara Lee is determined to fight an old prejudice.

I

t was while watching television that Kiara Lee’s mission was born. A black model was talking about her childhood, explaining that she’d never felt beautiful as a child because of her dark skin. Lee was shocked that the model felt that way solely because of her complexion, and began to explore the notion of colorism, researching it from the time of slave trading. Slaves were frequently separated for sale by complexion because the fairer ones fetched higher prices. And lighter-skinned slaves were given the more desirable positions inside the house rather than as field hands. The more Lee learned, the more determined she became to do everything she could to address colorism. “What could I do to combat this, I wondered. I’m not anyone famous,” she recounts with the indignant passion of a 21-year-old. Her first step was to create a website, theblackertheberry.org, as a source of support and empowerment for young women. Topics and resources cover obtaining a general equivalency diploma, preparing for the SAT, health care, shelters, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and women’s programs. As Lee says, “I wanted girls to read it and think, ‘If she can do this, so can I.’” A rising senior at the University of Richmond, Lee wrote for the school’s newspaper and has self-published a children’s book about colorism. “Light-Skinned, Dark-Skinned or In-Between” tells the story of Nefertiti, a young, dark-skinned girl who experiences mistreatment because of her color and African features. Meanwhile, she can’t help but notice the special treatment afforded the new girl in town, Tiara, who is light-skinned. A documentary of the same title soon followed. In it, Lee replicated the Clark doll test, first conducted in 1939, on four local elementary school pupils. The test measures how children correlate race with their perceptions of beauty. Lee’s findings showed that decades later, the results were the same; although black children identified with the black doll, they considered the white doll

| 12 | August 2011

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more beautiful. “And it’s perpetuated in our culture today,” she says. “In movies, media and music videos, the darker-skinned girl with the exaggerated features is the bad girl. The light-skinned girl is always the desirable one.” She adds that hair is as important as complexion color to the African-American community. “I have testimonies in the documentary of women saying they were teased by others for wearing their hair naturally and not straightening or coloring it,” she says. Lee began organizing interactive seminars to bring her message to as many young women as possible. She replicates the brown paper bag test in the seminars, showing how certain African-American fraternities and sororities measured skin color against the brown paper bag to discriminate against potential pledges deemed to be “too dark.” Because the topic of colorism is sometimes considered taboo in the African-American community, the approachable atmosphere of Lee’s seminars often unleashes a torrent of responses from the attendees. “Many are so moved, they become emotional,” she says. “Others recount painful memories of colorism in their lives, whether they were treated unfairly by their own family, friends at school or even faced internal conflict within themselves. A few women remain in complete denial and refuse to accept that colorism still exists in the 21st century.” The other end of the spectrum reveals itself at the seminars as well. “Some light-skinned women burst out crying. They were never perceived as ‘black enough,’ and that’s not discussed either,” she says. “Women cry because they continue to have problems with old issues.” Lee considers herself fortunate to have been raised with three sisters in a home where complexion was never considered a factor in self-worth. When she accompanied one sister on a visit to the University of Richmond as a rising ninth-grader, she was impressed that she was treated like a po-

by

Karen Newton

tential student despite her age. “It made my life when I got into that school,” she says. “They’re so welcoming, so ready for you to expand. It’s a very good place for a leader, someone who likes to start things. I’ve been able to get a lot of experience with serving the community through UR.” Lisa Miles, the assistant director of Common Ground, the university’s diversity initiative, says she has observed Lee’s  growth since her arrival on campus. “Kiara is a woman of quiet strength,” she says. “She’s very insightful and committed to issues of race, identity, equity and colorism, and is creative about how she brings her message to people. She uses a variety of methods to share her very important message, while bringing people into her circle through her warm and engaging persona.” Miles helped set  Lee on her way. “She approached me to see if we could help her sponsor a talk and showing of her documentary on campus. I put her in touch with a student group, the Bonner Scholar Social Justice Round Table, as an appropriate venue. I encouraged her, saying Common Ground would be a co-sponsor if she would like and they were excited about her idea. They did sponsor her talk on campus this spring which was well attended and enthusiastic.” Last month, Lee spoke at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, giving a speech on colorism to  more than  1,200 activists. For her, one of the highlights was speaking before former President Bill Clinton. Lee graduates next year and hopes to go to law school at the university as well. “I want to be a public defender,” she says. “I would love to write another book and maybe make another documentary. I’m very into activism and helping people.” “Complexion does not define beauty; it’s something from within,” she says. “It’s important to feel good about yourself. That’s the first step in any and everything.”


“Complexion does not define beauty; it’s something from within.”

belle

August 2011 | 13 |


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t s e i p p a H

p p A HAPPY Hours Get it today!

Featured Venues  Results Page  Download Style Weekly’s Free Richmond Happy Hours App Search by name, location, features, timing and more. If your smartphone had a brain, it would have installed it already! Available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Search for “Happy Hours” and download for Free.

| 14 | August 2011

belle


b o dy & s o u l

fitness

Rapture via Rapids

photo courtesy riverside outfitters

R

Tame the James with teamwork.

ichmond is the only urban center in the United States that has class four white-water rapids within its city limits. Some people shoot through them on rafts. Imagine my surprise when, instead of hours of sedentary coffee drinking and pancake eating on a Sunday morning, I became one of them. Riverside Outfitters has been taking people down the James River for six years. “It’s something you can’t really explain,” owner Matt Perry says. “People have to go do it. You’re in the city limits the whole time, but you feel like you’re in a forested area. Then you turn that corner and the whole city is there. So to be in those two different landscapes is pretty cool.” The release form I sign the morning of my trip is alarming. But the charming ramshackle house that serves as headquarters for Riverside Outfitters is comforting. It has a wide front porch, homey décor and pictures of happy rafters. Our guide, Lew Bailes, is alarming and comforting too, while he briefs us on safety and technique before we put in at the Pony Pasture. Helmeted and suited up in corsetlike personal flotation devices, the all-female crew I’m on listens intently. Bailes, a veteran guide with 20 years of experience, calls falling out of the raft a “full ticket ride,” and it isn’t uncommon. This is news to me. We’re told to get on our backs if it happens, with “nose and toes up,” and to hold tightly to our paddle. The idea is to shoot the rapid with your body, a safer alternative than trying to swim. Bailes assures us that he’ll rescue us as soon as possible. Especially if we still have our paddle. “If we see you in the water, and you have your paddle, you’re help,” Bailes says. “If we see you in the water without a paddle, you are cargo.”

by

Julie Geen

I feel I’ll soon be cargo when I find out we aren’t actually inside the raft, but perched on it with our legs tucked in what Bailes calls a lock. I don’t feel very locked, but he assures me that I have plenty of time on calm water to learn what I need to know. We also have backup: A second guide, Dave Fary, tails us in a kayak. While we learn our commands and how to paddle together, Bailes points out glimpses of Agecroft Hall, the Dooley mansion at Maymont and a blue heron gulping a fish. “Why aren’t more people out on the river,” a financial adviser from Texas asks. “They might get wet,” Bailes replies. We have our lunch on a rock in the middle of the river between the Powhite Parkway and Boulevard bridges, enjoying the excellent lunch the outfitters provided. Full disclosure: I ate the brownie. After lunch, we paddle on, spotting a bald eagle rise from a rock and soar away. When we round the bend by Belle Isle, we see the skyline of Richmond spread before us and the fun begins. First up is the Hollywood rapid, a high class four that day. “Trust your guide,” Bailes yells over the roar of the water, just before the current snatches us and hurls us over the fall. We paddle madly, his shouted commands our anchor in the chaos. We also triumph over the Pipeline rapid before ending at the 14th Street whitewater take-out. Back at the house, Bailes offers us a Heineken or a Gatorade while we sit on the porch in our adrenaline afterglow. “We were a good team,” Bailes tells us. “The fact that I know where we should go does not get us there. The team gets us there, and that’s all there is to it.” He tells me I will sleep well and I do, pleasantly sore and with the sound of rushing water in my dreams.

Rafter

Know-how: • Go to the dollar store and get some straps for your sunglasses, unless you don’t mind losing them. • Don’t wear cotton clothing. It dries slowly and wicks your body heat right out of you. Wear a swimsuit or other quick-drying fabric. • The trip is 3-5 hours. You might want to reduce your caffeine intake beforehand. There are no bathrooms on the raft. • Listening to your guide and following instructions makes for a better, safer ride. • Respect the river and pack your trash out.

For information, go to riversideoutfitters.net or call 560-0068.

belle

August 2011 | 15 |


Fa s h i o n c u e s

details

Polished stone necklace ($12) at Rumors, 404

N. Harrison St. 726-9944 rumorsrva.com.

Crocodile metallic card holder by Jalda ($40) and clutch ($236) at Fraîche, 304 Libbie Ave. 282-4282 fraichehome.net.

Digging It

Natural elements give an earthy edge to home and wardrobe.

Horn condiment set ($102) at Fraîche, 304 Libbie Ave. 282-4282 fraichehome.net.

| 16 | August 2011

belle

by

Lauren H ea ly


Horn bangles ($21-$24) at Bohland & Graham, 2605 W. Cary St. 859-1577.

Dinosaur storm plate by local artist Alex Johnson ($60). alexjohnsonpottery.com 247-3067. South of the James Market at Forest Hill Park on Saturdays.

Copper and fossil brooch by local artist Amanda Outcalt ($500) at Quirk, 311 W. Broad St. 644-5450 quirkgallery.com.

Shark attack earrings ($48) by local artist Jane HarrisonSurvello, gypsyjaneh@gmail.com

441-0805. South of the James Market at Forest Hill Park on Saturdays and at Powhatan Market on Thursdays.

belle

ď Ź

August 2011 | 17 |


f i r st p e r s o n

Hey, Mr. Postman You don’t have to look and see; I know there’s a letter for me. y husband is the last great patron of the U.S. Postal Service. He mails things. Every day he mails things. To friends overseas. To friends in Richmond. To his parents, to his brother, to my parents, to my brothers. A sheet of 20 stamps rarely lasts the week. He mails bizarrely illustrated postcards that make our mailman curse and chuckle. He mails torn-out advertisements, lottery scratch-offs, personal checks for one cent. He mails photographs from the good wild days when everyone was in a band. Sometimes I find one of his envelopes in my office mailbox. I always tear it open before I get back to my desk. One held a photo of us grinning at Seneca Rocks, W.Va., on the day he proposed. One held a terrifying Sharpie portrait of our hairy-eared kitten. One held a Pizza Hut coupon. He circled the picture of the stuffed-crust with

| 18 | August 2011

belle

Melissa Scott Sinclair

pepperoni. And added an arrow, just in case I missed the hint. Did I mention we work in the same building? As soon as his letters leave our house, he forgets what he sent to whom. But when he visits friends, there they are: notes and postcards layered on the refrigerator, thick as lost-cat flyers on a telephone pole. They are treasured. I am the opposite of my husband. I am a bad correspondent. And truth be told, a bad friend. Yes, I am. Because every day, I commit the cardinal sin of the modern age: I don’t write back. I did read your email. I read it with great pleasure, actually. But I didn’t reply. I put a little flag on it, to remind me to write back later. Which I won’t do until sometime next week. Same for your party invitation. I meant to RSVP, but I didn’t until two days after the deadline. That was incredibly rude, wasn’t it? And the sweet note you sent me on Facebook? I

smiled and I thanked you — mentally. You probably still wonder if I saw it. I’m trying to improve. Instead of composing replies in my head to send later, I’m typing them. This month I’m finally visiting the cross-country friends whose invitations I have ignored for four years. Maybe I’ll throw a party so everyone can leave me hanging. Revenge, s’il vous plaît. But answering email is only courtesy. And it creates its own vacuum of obligation. Now you have to write back to me. My husband’s constant mailing is different. It’s a break from the everyday you-me-you-me. It is an act of generosity. Your handwritten name means the envelope is for you. Only you. The private thrill of tearing it is yours. You don’t have to tell anyone what’s inside. You don’t have to write back. You’re not supposed to. It is one-way, and it speaks of love.

photo illustration by jeff bland

M

by


F i r st P e r s o n

Secret Smoker

What else am I hiding? by

photo illustration by jeff bland

I

Valley Haggard

smoked my first cigarette on the rooftop of one of my dad’s Fan apartments when I was 8 and he was in the shower. But I didn’t fall desperately in love with smoking until 10 years later when a friend loaned me a clove during a reading at the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City. The next day I bummed a Marlboro Red from a boy I hoped would lend me not only his cigarette, but also his confidence. Not to mention his exclusive, intellectual brand of love. He loaned me his cigarette. I became a pack-a-day smoker overnight. When I decided to quit drinking five years later, I told my mother that I was going to wait just a few more years before I quit smoking too. “Fine,” she said, “but would you rather cut your arm off all at once or bit by bit, in pieces?” I decided that she had a point. Instead of using gum or the patch, I used an old Wiffle Ball bat. Beating my couch senseless and crying hysterically for a month did the trick. I was a nonsmoker once again. And after writing a long, heartfelt letter about the necessity of living long enough to be there for his children and grandchildren, my dad quit too. Good riddance to a nasty habit, I thought. Other than salivating a tiny bit when someone struck a match on the big screen, I didn’t miss it at all.

That is, until one morning after a storm last summer when I found a miraculously intact package of Black Clove cigarettes in the street next to my car. They’d been run over and rained on. I picked them up, ran into my backyard and smoked the entire pack. And then went out to buy another. I knew it was bad. I knew it was wrong. I knew that I never wanted my son or any other young person I knew to see me smoking. Despite that, and despite knowing everything that everyone knows about the side effects of tobacco and nicotine, I couldn’t not do it. Smoking created a smoke screen that neatly hid the things I was hiding from. It reconnected me to the 18-year-old girl I’d left behind and badly missed. It gave me a sense of ownership over my time and space, even if that time and space was stolen in furtive puffs next to the dumpster in my backyard. Best of all, smoking cured me of a nasty case of self-righteousness I’d developed the decade prior. Other mothers in the neighborhood smoked openly while waiting at the bus stop. Now I could no longer think of myself as more highly evolved than they, but still I wondered how they managed to have no shame at all. Shouldn’t they be

crouched down behind their dumpsters like me, trapped in an ever-quickening cycle of craving and shame, pleasure and remorse? I knew I had to quit but the idea seemed in the same vein as moving alone to Siberia in the middle of winter. I couldn’t imagine any other way of introducing such a quick rush of pleasure into my life. And because there were now other actual people living in my house, a Wiffle Ball bat was no longer an option. I’d have to find something meaningful to replace not only the cigarettes, but also the ritual they created. I joined Twitter. When that failed, I dug a garden. I took up running. Slowly, these things and others making connections through words and people began to seal up the place the smoke had filled. I no longer felt the need to hide quite so much or so often from others or myself. I didn’t have to wonder if I smelled like an ashtray, what kind of example I was setting for my son or if I was going to hack up a lung after dinner. I stopped being so quick to judge others by their vices, re-entering a world defined by its many shades of gray. Still, every time a storm passes over our house, I find myself scanning the street to see what may have washed ashore.

belle

August 2011 | 19 |


Sweet Without Shame Channeling the raucous spirit of early Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot, Lafayette’s Givers serve up the most joyful discs of 2011 with “In Light.” World beats and vibrant Louisiana culture are obvious influences on the quintet’s debut. The band incorporates zydeco rhythms, African percussion and instantly memorable choruses for the feel of an ultra-hip “Graceland.” Taylor Guarisco and Tiffany Lamson take turns charming the pants off listeners while they playfully exchange vocals in 10 songs to be shamelessly sung out loud (Glassnote). — H.L.

August

AGEnda C o m p il e d b y

Ju li e G e e n, H ilary L an gford

and

De veron T imberla ke

Casey’s

Come

back

If that teenaged country crooner from “American Idol” has you in some kind of trance, track him down with the other finalists, including Casey Abrams (pictured), from the latest season Aug. 20 at the Richmond Coliseum. The American Idols Live show is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $44-$64 plus fees, or an upclose seat with a meet and greet costs $251. ticketmaster.com. | 20 | August 2011

Going to Seed

Not for the claustrophobe, the 28th annual Carytown Watermelon Festival has enough melons (3,000), people (115,000) and vendors, music and food to fill a mile-long streetscape in a ritual that’s hot, sticky and sweet — and almost calorie-free. Aug. 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Find details on parking and FAQs at carytownrva.org.

belle


Glitz and Grimmer Things don’t go as planned for the aspiring real housewife in Victoria Patterson’s debut novel, “This Vacant Paradise.” Set in notorious Orange County, Calif., this grim tale of lives lived for luxury items and status plays out in language as clean and elegant as a Cartier cuff. Unlike the TV show, this story has a soul. (Counterpoint, $25) — J.G.

Gothic Perfection

Hatching the Farmette While you watch your garden wilt or mourn the one you never started, get inspired for next year with “The Quarter Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn and Fed My Family for a Year.” Author Spring Warren composts a year of learning the hard way into a funny, informative account of how she turned her suburban yard into a small farm. (Seal Press, $16.95) — J.G.

Raw

Longtime musical partners Gillian Welch and David Rawlings have said they’re “servants to the song.” On Welch’s anticipated, fifth album, “The Harrow and the Harvest,” they find the space where time slows down in the overgrown hollows and back porches of Tennessee. Solidly penned words spill out of Welch and Rawlings so effortlessly it’s as if they speak their own Southern Gothic language, making it feel as if you’re listening in on the pair’s intimate, kitchen recording session. If you want to hear modern-day, American folk music at its absolute finest, look no further. (Acony) See them live at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Groovin series Aug. 19. — H.L.

Deal

Learn more about Richmond’s raw and living foods community, share in a potluck dinner, and hear the healthchanging story of guest speaker Rob Murphy, a raw food proponent, when the Richmond Vegetarian Society gathers Aug. 6. Dinner is at 5 p.m., at the Friends Meeting House, 4500 Kensington Ave. $3 for nonmembers. 344-4356 or vegetarianrichmond.org.

belle

August 2011 | 21 |


g r e at ta s t e

entertaining

Good Times, Gluten-Free

Only one thing is missing from this party.

L

et’s set the scene: You’re at an outdoor shindig with all your friends. Burgers and sausages are on the grill, homemade hummus and pasta salad are on the table, beer flows from a keg, a rumor’s spreading that there’s ice cream and cake, and everyone is just getting down with a good time. Citronella candle is the predominant smell right behind fresh-cut grass. Music is pumping and the first corn-hole game is in progress. All’s good in the neighborhood. Except that none of the food being served is something you can eat (save a glob of hummus and a glass of soda). Why? You have an allergy to gluten. The best you can hope to do at this party is dominate at corn hole and drive everyone home. Gluten allergies are common and side effects can be devastating to some people. Ranging from the most severe (celiac disease) to relatively minor (intolerance or wheat allergy), this type of allergy can affect as much as 10 percent of the population. | 22 | August 2011

belle

by

Robey Martin

photos by

Scott Elmquist

The list of cookout-worthy foods above is riddled with gluten and not in just the obvious offenders such as burger buns, pasta salad, beer and cake. Hidden thickeners in ketchup, stabilizing agents in ice cream, and binders in sausage all could be harmful. So how does one party without gluten? For local restaurateurs Melissa Barlow and chef Carly Herring of the Empress on Broad Street and Imperial Catering (both “glutenites” — a term Barlow has coined to address the allergy as a more positive community thing), this is old hat. At their restaurant, tables are marked with green dots for those who have an allergy. Great care and separate cooking spaces prevent cross-contamination. The menu has lasagna, grilled sandwiches and other inedibles made edible for the intolerant. They want you to eat without worry. They also want you to party without devastation. On a recent beautiful Monday evening, we feasted without gluten, and didn’t miss a thing.


Appetizers Appetizers are trickier when throwing a gluten-free party outdoors. Finger foods are necessary for dips but pita chips and crackers are out of the question. Grilled veggies are always a hit and can be prepared in advance. For all veggies, toss lightly with oil, salt and pepper and grill over medium heat until lightly charred and softened. Stuffed peppers are also easy and crowd pleasers.

Tuna Tacos with Avocado, Cilantro Cream, and Black Bean and Corn Salsa (Serves 12)

Everyone loves tacos. A few simple modifications and a stellar home-made salsa will bring all of your friends to the table.

Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Stuffed Peppers Ingredients

16 baby bell peppers 2 cups rice 1 quart chicken broth 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon coriander 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon black pepper 16 ounces hot sausage 16 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded Oil

Directions:

Combine the stock and spices in a 2-quart pan and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook covered 15-20 minutes. Crumble the raw sausage into a cold pan. Adjust heat to medium. Stir constantly until the sausage is cooked, but still juicy. Mix cooked rice with the sausage and cheese. Slice top from peppers, derib and seed. Stuff with filling and oil outside lightly. Bake at 425 degrees until the peppers are soft and the exposed rice is beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. For a vegetarian option, substitute vegetable broth and omit the sausage.

Ingredients:

2 15-ounce cans black beans 4 ears corn, shucked ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped ½ cup (2 medium) shallots, minced 1 jalapeno, minced 2 tablespoon lime juice 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 5 tablespoons oil 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, unseasoned Directions:

Cut the corn off the cob. Heat a small sauté pan with a tablespoon of oil. Sauté corn until cooked (becomes slightly translucent, loses bright white color). Combine the remaining ingredients with the corn in a mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Cilantro Cream Ingredients:

½ cup fresh cilantro, packed 2 cups sour cream 2 tablespoons lime juice 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.

Tuna Ingredient:

1 pound of fresh tuna steaks Directions:

Grill on medium heat about 4 minutes on each side, a little longer based on thickness. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with:

Avocado (roughly chopped) Grilled soft corn tortillas (brush with olive oil, grill 1 minute on each side).

belle

August 2011 | 23 |


Side Dishes Toasted Oat Salad

Oats are naturally gluten-free but often contaminated where they’re processed. Look for a glutenfree processor (example: Bob’s Red Mill) and create this hardy sweet and savory side dish. Ingredients:

No Muddle Mojito (Serves 12-14)

There are many arguments on which alcoholic beverages someone keeping a gluten-free lifestyle can consume. Nonpotato vodkas, beers and dark liquors are to be avoided. This recipe for a make-ahead mojito with white rum is a good option. Ingredients:

3 cups rum 1½ cups mint leaves, packed 12 ounces sugar 2 ounces lime juice Soda water Directions:

Put the sugar and mint leaves into a blender, process. Add the lime juice and rum. Steep 5-10 minutes and strain. Garnish with mint leaves and lime.

| 24 | August 2011

belle

1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch strips 8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed, cut into ¼-inch slices ½ cup oil ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 1 quart gluten free rolled oats (not quick oats) 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 8 ounces feta cheese, cubed Directions:

Heat the oil in a nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté until they begin to soften. Add the first measure of salt and pepper and reduce heat to low. Caramelize the onions and mushrooms over low heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. While the veggies are cooking, rinse the oats under cold water until the water runs

mostly clear. Drain. Add the oats to the pan with the second measure of salt and pepper. Stir, and continue to cook over low heat until the oats are dried and toasty, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Cranberry Ginger Chutney

This cranberry chutney makes a great condiment for your entire party. It’s tasty on tacos or with cheeses and meats on an appetizer platter. Ingredients:

2 cups dried cranberries 1 cup cranberry juice 3 ounces fresh ginger (about 2 inches, medium width), sliced lengthwise ½ banana, very ripe 2 tablespoon sugar Directions:

Mash the banana with the cranberry juice. Add sugar and ginger. Bring to a boil. Add the cranberries, cover, and remove from heat. Let rest one hour, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir, remove ginger, and chill.


Hidden Gluten

g r e at ta st e

• Cheeses are usually safe

entertaining

for those eating glutenfree, but be wary of those that are crumbled. Some manufacturers use cellulose or flour to keep the cheese from sticking together. • Meat in raw form is gluten-free, but some premarinated meats can cause a problem. Anything using soy or Worchester sauce has hidden wheat. Good quality sausages (try a local butcher — they’ll know exactly) are probably without filler. • When baking, be careful about some food extracts, which might contain grainbased alcohol. Some frostings can have hidden wheat. • Red-flag words to avoid: dextrin, vegetable proteins and starch, modified food starch (when derived from wheat instead of maize), malt flavoring including maltodextrine, dextrine, HVP (hydrogenated vegetable protein), HPP (hydrolyzed plant protein), TVP (textured vegetable protein), MSG (monosodium glutamate, graham, spelt, and kamut, natural flavor, vegetable gums, and mono- and diglycerides. A comprehensive and frequently updated list can be found at celiac.com. • Some wineries use flourbased paste to coat storage barrels or use gluten as a clarifying agent. This could cause reactions in especially sensitive individuals. • Chewing gum can be an offender with flour dusting to keep gum from sticking to the package.

Dessert Carrot Cake Ingredients: 8 eggs 1 ½ cups corn oil 1 pound, 12 ounces, sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1 pound, 2 ounces, gluten-free, all-purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon Melissa Barlow, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda co-owner of The ½ teaspoon baking powder Empress, em2 pounds carrots braces glutenfree entertaining 7 ounces walnuts, chopped

and daily living.

Directions:

Whip the eggs on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium and drizzle in the oil. Whip in the sugar and salt. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add to the egg mixture. Stir in the carrots and walnuts. Oil and flour two 10-inch pans. Divide the batter equally and bake 50 minutes at 375 degrees, until the cakes spring back when pressed and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then empty onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting and icing.

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature 3 ounces powdered sugar 2 teaspoon vanilla Directions:

Whip all ingredients at high speed until smooth.

belle

August 2011 | 25 |


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| 26 | AUGUST 2011

belle

Contact Sharon for details on the next Belle Bridal Resource Page running in September! 358-2100 x 342 or sharon.moses@styleweekly.com


g r e at ta st e

food

Worth the Weight

Y

Fat new cookbooks hold a ton of healthy recipes.

ou can get an upper-body workout just lifting some of the new cookbook titles making their way into bookstores. And with health-conscious recipes inside, along with glorious food styling and creative ideas for dining solo or in a crowd, there’s something tasty and different for nearly every imaginable occasion.

“Bite Me” by Julie Albert and

Lisa Gnat (Kyle Books, $24.95) is a glossy 2.11-pounds of good times. The authors are sisters with a sexy, whacky humor that’s heavy on girlfriend speak. Kitchen disasters share space with dishes named lustful creamy chicken fettuccine or Rx brownies. But it’s not the cutesy that works here — it’s the solid cooking instructions, the trend-conscious recipes, and the fun that leaps off each colorful page. This one makes a great gift for anyone who likes to eat while laughing. “Fire It Up” by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim, (Chronicle Books, $24.95) packs more than 400 recipes into a glossy 3.13-pounder. The basics are here, and the how-to charts and diagrams, but this isn’t

just a primer. Recipes for sophisticated from-the-grill entrees such as almond-crusted monkfish with anchovy sauce, or grilled elk with spicy green tea pesto, give extra oomph to a cooking method too often relegated to burgers and dogs. “Everyday to Entertaining” by Meredith Deeds and Carla Snyder (Robert Rose Inc., $24.95) comes in at 1.12 pounds and with a useful concept. Take an ordinary dish such as French onion soup, and get two versions — a basic recipe and a dressed-for-company updo, the creamy three-onion soup with crispy shallots. Same with braised short ribs, elevated to Guinness-braised short ribs with horseradish cream. Stuffed chicken thighs get swankier as fig and escarole-stuffed chicken

by

Deveron Timberlake

thighs with sherry cream sauce. Step-by-step guidance and tips about side dishes and serving give novice cooks and the party-fearful a progressive way to gain confidence. “400 Best Sandwich Recipes” by Alison Lewis (Robert Rose Inc., $24.95) is the welterweight of this group at 1.13 pounds, but tastefully practical. Any cook stuck in a turkey or tuna rut will find an irresistible range of inventive options — a grilled tequila citrus panino; sausage and fontina calzone; Moroccan fish wrap drizzled with lemon — and the usual classic burgers and between-the-bread favorites. Light on photos but straightforward on tips and techniques, this is a good bet for the tailgate and picnic lover or anyone who carries lunch to work every day. “Color Me Vegan” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (Fair Winds Books, $19.99) divides its 1.11-pound, 271 pages into shades of the farmers’ market. Each chapter takes a color,

describes the nutrients of vegetables in that color, and gives recipe ideas to match. Kale chips are perhaps more obvious than quinoa blue cornbread, but with 150 dishes there’s a trove of advice and support for vegans and those hoping to learn more about an increasingly popular dietary path. “Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One” by

Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press, $22) comes from the Washington Post food editor who’s beloved for his Cooking for One column and his premise that “cooking is the ultimate act of self-appreciation,” with freedom to cook what you crave, when you want it. Tucked among the 100 recipes are obvious favorites such as tacos and pizza, but also puffy duck-egg frittata with smoked salmon and an earthy peasant bowl of beans, rice and cheese that’s satisfyingly simple with Texas spicing. At just over a pound, it’s fittingly lightweight — but only in scale.

belle

August 2011 | 27 |


g r e at ta s t e

at home

Decoration of Independence How Amanda Cottrell designs her own rules indoors and out.

by

Where most would see a money pit, Amanda and Preston Cottrell found the project of their dreams in a 1900s Federal-style farmhouse near the river. It needed work, its grounds were overrun, and there was no telling what they’d find once construction began. Through a process that broke the usual planning process, they put together a home that lives large inside and out, with a back porch that caps off the workday most nights of the year. Why she fell for the house at first sight: “Preston and I liked the clapboards. It was a matter of being excited about a house having an old soul, having a history, and being able to fix it up,” Amanda says. “It’s something we both like to do.” In 18 months they updated the mechanicals, moved doorways, enclosed a sunroom and added the spacious pergola-covered back porch with wide steps down to the yard rimmed with trees and shrubs. The process wasn’t preordained: “We didn’t want to say that all the decisions were final at the begin-

having our doors and windows open. We discovered that a screened door always ended up being propped open when we entertained, so we added these sheers -- this is my second set -- and I love it when the wind is billowing right. It actually does work to keep most bugs out and is nicer than having a screened door that’s propped open.” Outdoor fabrics should not be green: “We inherited almost everything on the porch, two or three different styles of wrought-iron furniture. I’m a firm believer in not fighting Mother Nature when it comes to upholstering outdoor furniture. You want to complement the trees, the sky, the flowers, so that’s why I chose that very pale color of blue, so you can see the other colors.” Home as the ultimate haven: “It’s my favorite place to go. I’d much rather be home because I can create my own ambiance, make my own cocktail, play my own music and invite the people I want. Your home should be the place you want to be the most.”

| 28 | August 2011

belle

Decorating is a process of orchestrating vignettes:

As a painter and retail display expert with interior design training, Cottrell views scenes as if on canvas. “When I’m looking at a corner of a room, I’m looking at it as though I’m setting up a still life with color, texture. I pick three colors, take the paintings off the wall and paint [the samples] behind them, because the light changes. My favorite paint color is Weimaraner, a Martha Stewart color. It’s in my living room and sunroom, and it doesn’t match a thing, but it’s a gray, taupe and beige color that works with everything.” The back porch doesn’t have a screened door:

“We wanted a living space outside, and we love

photo by ash daniel

ning. We just said, let’s work our way through it. The architect and contractor were perfectly happy that we were here every day and assessing it as a work in progress. We played with it and got more of a feel for it, semi-living in it. Some things just arrive because it’s the personality of the house. A lot of it is knowing what to keep.”

Deveron Timberlake


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belle

AUGUST 2011 | 29 |


f i r st p e r s o n

Vixen Grandma It takes more than make-up to become a vamp.

y maternal grandmother, Betty Rae, was a vixen, a siren, a vamp. She couldn’t help it. She was a low-rent Elizabeth Taylor with her violet eyes, lush figure and love of shiny objects, although hers were rhinestones instead of diamonds. Through the ’70s she wore her dyed red hair piled up on her head, saloon-girl style, and as she aged, she drifted back to her own dark brown, accented with a natural lightning bolt of pure silver at one temple. Vixens are rare creatures, from all races, all walks of life, spanning all time. The very first were cave vixens, emerging around the same time early humans learned to accessorize. Thankfully, vixens are still being made today. Nothing you can purchase, alter with surgery or apply with a brush will make you a vixen. Marilyn Monroe tried, but her insides were too shaky to let her simmer for long. The vixen radiates deep confidence, a force probably genetic, molecular in form. Beauty is part of it, but not the whole story. We’ve all sniffed over a vixen we think has short legs or bad skin but gets all the boys. An eye for

| 30 | August 2011

belle

Julie Geen

fashion helps, but it will not a vixen make. My vixen sister can loan me her sweater, supervise my makeup, spray me with her perfume and I still feel like I’m pressed up to the glass outside the store with no money watching the other girls buy candy. Or exactly the right shoes. I’m just not a vixen. I tried occasionally from the age of 18 until my early 20s, spending hours in the bathroom, but I mistook the mysterious force as something born from high heels and artfully applied eyeliner. Sure, I had my fun, but after a few hours my goofy came through and ruined everything. Vixens don’t bray like donkeys when they laugh. Of course vixens get a lot of attention. Betty Rae wasn’t married as many times as Taylor, but her second attempt was definitely her Richard Burton in the form of a plaid-shorts and black-sock military man who took an aggressive stance over the meat when he grilled. They had a tumultuous marriage for years, but in the Polaroids, Betty Rae always posed like a starlet, cool amusement in her cat eyes while he looked on, surly in an undershirt. Betty Rae finally left him, showing up at our house with her avocado green Monte Carlo piled

to the top with her possessions. “Don’t ask if you can sleep with her,” my mom told us. “She’s not that kind of grandma.” But she was, and my little sister beat me to it, perhaps imprinted forever with slinky nightgowns and Shalimar. Betty Rae got back on her feet, found a job, a little apartment and a carnie guy who could talk through a clenched cigarette. He blew into town off and on and squired her around for years. I suppose he was her Larry Fortensky. Even in the nursing home and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she still had boyfriends. Whitey loved to push her in a swing, and the staff escorted her out of his room in the wee hours of the morning a time or two. She corresponded with Gordon, a high-school sweetheart she was sure would come and spring her from the home. He might have, too, if he hadn’t died. The only thing that fells a vixen is the thing that fells us all. The night Betty Rae died, my sister stepped out of her French high heels and climbed into the hospital bed, curled around her and held her during her last hours on earth. I’ll bet they both had on their lipstick.

photo illustration by jeff bland

M

by


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*Photos courtesy iGuide®

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Belle August 2011  

Style Weekly's magazine for Richmond women.

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