Thursday, December 5, 2019

My Sweet Friend Gaia Has Gone to Be with Her Cats in Heaven

When I saw this picture of Gaia Fishler and Ori's announcement on The Non-Blonde that she had died, I burst into tears. I haven’t been able to write since that tearful day; I’ve been too emotional. Gaia was one of my first blogger friends and certainly one I knew was a saint. Did God take her knowing that Ori would take care of their cats on Earth, but needing a hand with those in heaven?

I can’t count the hours we spent on the phone or e-mail. I took the train to New York to shop with her. We still had unaccomplished plans for me to visit her at home. Legionnaires’ disease, the fire, rebuilding my house, unpacking what was saved and conserved, buying all new things, like upholstered furniture—and, of course, easing Charlie through all the disruptions in his life, being here for him—disrupted those plans. Now a grim realization that our reunion will have to wait for heaven has depressed me. I wasn’t supposed to lose a 49-year-old friend to heart disease.

At first, I panicked. I had to know how such a thing could happen. I called and wrote Ori, but didn’t know he had gone to Israel. I finally reached Gaia’s dear friend Josie, who filled me in on the heartbreaking details. I’m grateful to her, and I cry for her too. Losing a best friend can be worse than losing a beloved family member.

I am sure Gaia and I had been friends in another life—somewhere in time.  We both adored cats and their individual charms. We both appreciated art, beauty, antiques, reading, the natural world, good food, so many things in our lives. She was a better person than I am. We disliked many of the same things, dishonesty being one, but she lived with stressors so much better than I did.

I haven’t figured out how to honor her in a way that’s fitting of her example. If I had the money, I would start a charity to care for and love homeless cats, giving them a home like Gaia would have done. I hope she will send me an idea, something I can do to honor the time and wisdom she shared with us.

As I type through tears—yes, they are flowing again—I’m petting Charlie (he senses when I’m upset), thinking about Gaia, hoping that Ori and their Jersey cats will find the strength to go forward without her, knowing I can't adequately describe her here, and sadly acknowledging that Gaia is now a memory. I loved her.

Photo courtesy of The Non-Blonde

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Who is Charlestongirl?

I learned the downside of not blogging yesterday. Saks Chevy Chase had a Tim Quinn appearance, and I wasn't invited. Beauty blogs have changed so much, I don't know whether I ought to attempt Round 2. So many of them have features I don't want to offer: YouTube videos, Instagram posts, photos of the blogger modeling colors. With the exception of the last, I'm bored by most of it. I'm not going to get all dolled up to model lipstick colors. That's just not me these days. Besides, I spend almost every weekday dealing with the tear-down and rebuilding of my house. Plus mourning all my lost makeup and following up on the restoration of my art and antiques.

I discovered on Google that my blog is attributed to my real name, Adrienne Whyte. I'm still Charlestongirl, but it's no secret that Charlestongirl is a pseudonym that expresses my love for my cat and the town in South Carolina. Charlie, for short, probably wonders why we are living in a fraction of the space of my house, but he has adjusted well to apartment life. He has even become used to nurses letting themselves in to ask if I'm coming to brunch! I am sure, given the nature of this facility, that they really want to make sure I'm alive. I came here for rehab after pneumonia, but many are here for assisted living. Sadly, some do die in their apartments. I'm staying here, though, until my house is rebuilt. I don't want to move again, and I'm five minutes from my house.

I've been restocking the makeup collection, but limiting my purchases to must-haves. I went overboard in the past and can't afford to do that anymore. Right now, I'm waiting for one box from Guerlain and another from Chanel. Before the fire, I had most of the Chanel spring collection. It's gone now. I actually think one of the many people in my house took the box. Losing the Chanel Collection was a blow, as was losing most of my jewelry, clothing, and "supplies," like four boxes of contact lenses.

The only good news about my house is that I can have it rebuilt to my specifications. It will be all new! I'm going to replace Charlie's screened porch with a sun room (he may be unhappy with that decision) and even finish part of the basement if I have enough money after the mortgage is paid off. I'm going to be very busy choosing everything for the house, but I will try to blog when I have beauty news I'd like to share. I need a new computer, which is ordered, and my camera. The camera appears to be in a box in storage at the renovation company. The new computer is required because the firemen threw mine out the window. Go figure!

I'll stay in touch as soon as I can recreate my blogging set-up.  My best to all of you!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Remembering on Memorial Day

These photo say it all. Memorial Day is a U.S. national holiday when we remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. If you have lost a loved one, please know that millions are pausing today to reflect on your sacrifices. We care. Thank you for giving up the most precious thing you could give - your children, fathers and mothers, grandparents, brothers and sisters, cousins, and friends. I hope you can let the American people embrace you today in a gigantic collective hug of love and appreciation.

While today isn't really about the living, it's a great opportunity to thank veterans and the men and women who are currently serving in our Armed Forces. At any time, those at war could join the fallen at our national memorials at Arlington Cemetery and across the country. I should go there today. My parents are both there, but my parking pass was destroyed in the fire.

Today, some who were injured while serving are healing at hospitals around the world. Their stories - grit, determination, and bravery - are inspirational. Others who have returned from war aren't receiving the care (or the jobs) we owe them. That saddens me, especially when they are put on endless waiting lists for care, a debacle our government can't seem to rectify.

There was a beautiful, moving tribute, originally published in the Washington Post, A Song of Gratitude at Arlington National Cemetery, by Page Johnson of McLean, Virginia. I recommend that you read it at this link.

Here's a short excerpt.

So on this day of memories, I come to tell them thank you. I come to tell them I honor their service and the heritage they have given me. Most of all, I come to tell them that they are neither alone nor forgotten. I will be here for them, in spirit and in deed, and for their fellow soldiers trying to make a safer world so the children of every mother and father can sleep securely at night.

This photo is another that left me in tears.  This Memorial Day weekend, please pause to honor and remember the U.S. military dogs, who have been selflessly serving since World War II. In this photo, Staff Sgt. Thomas Sager carries the body of Dinomt (pronounced "dynomite"), a 90-pound German shepherd killed by an IED while on patrol in Kandahar. "He somehow took most of the blast, saving my life," his handler, Petty Officer 2nd Class Leroy Williams, said in an article a couple of months after Dinomt died. "I am eternally grateful. … There has not been a night go by yet that I don't miss him and even cry for him."

So many images - so many stories - define Memorial Day. "Thank you" doesn't seem adequate. While there will be pageantry, picnics, parades, concerts, and fireworks today, many of us will be thinking tearfully about the heroes who gave their lives so that we could live in peace.

Photos courtesy of unknown,, National Geographic, and the Washington Post

Friday, May 18, 2018

My Tragedies

I'm writing on my iPad, the only computer I have left. Last Wednesday, my house burned "down." Charlie and I were not there, thank God. I've had a very bad few months, as Alexander would put it (remember the children's book?).

I had Legionnaires pneumonia and was hospitalized for eight days. If a friend hadn't insisted on a wellness check by the police, I would have died. They found me unconscious on the floor. I have no memory of that or how long I had been passed out. I'm told I had sepsis and kidney failure in addition to the pneumonia.

After the hospital, Charlie and I moved to a rehab center in an assisted living facility close to my house. I needed to get stronger, and I did. I thought that was the worst of it. Then, my sister, who was helping renovate my house, hired a company named Pest Now to eradicate the termites they found in my attic. A few hours after they left, my entire attic was in flames. Long story short, my house was destroyed. It will take at least eight months to rebuild it.

I lost much of my makeup museum, almost all my clothes, and I don't even know what else because all salvageable items are in a warehouse owned by my restoration company or with specialists who deal with art and antiques. My best jewelry was stolen.

If there is a silver lining to the last few months, Charlie is fine, and my pneumonia is gone. Chubb, my insurance company, has been fabulous. I can't say enough good things about them. Please check your insurance policy and make sure that you have a guaranteed rebuild clause (regardless of cost), more than adequate contents coverage (riders for valuables), and will have the money to live somewhere while your destroyed house is rebuilt. Chubb is paying for the rehab center where I will stay for the duration. It's five minutes from my house, and I feel safe here. I have a two bedroom apartment with a sprinkler system in every room...and Charlie seems happy.

Writing this has brought tears to my eyes. One of the restoration guys said I have PTSD. Could be true. I told my doctor I thought I might need a psychiatrist. I wasn't kidding. They weren't kidding when they told me I have a new job, with no pay. The work involved in making decisions, meeting people at my house every day, buying clothes and other necessities, and more has been continuous. Thank God Chubb is supplying me with the money I need to live.

That's the outline of "where I've been." Many of you have asked, and I'm grateful for your love.

I couldn't get a photo into this feature. I tried, but finally punted.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 7: Dr. Tina West Open House Sponsored by Michael Reinhardt

Fall colors are so pretty. I took this picture of a maple at Mom's, but it was a grey day, so it's dark. My apologies. I also apologize for missing the last few Friday Forums. I've had more medical appointments than anyone my age should rightly have.

Between my continuing health issues and computer problems, I was unable to publish this feature today before my e-mail went out. I hope you see it before tomorrow evening's open house at Dr. Tina West's office. That is Wednesday, December 7. She will welcome all visitors, and she and her staff will be on hand to answer questions about dermatology and cosmetic surgery. If you are in the DC area and want to know how you might solve your skin problems, go talk to an expert!

Dr. West's office is at 5530 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 925, Chevy Chase, Maryland, right across the street from Saks. The open house will be from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Everyone is welcome! I hope to see you there.

P.S. I messed up the date. Sorry! The open house is December 7.

Photo by Best Things in Beauty

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Friday Forum - November 11

Veterans Day - our opportunity to honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces. It's a very special day for many families and can be (should be) a day of recollection for all of us.

Americans originally celebrated Veterans Day as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919. President Woodrow Wilson called for a moment of silence exactly one year after Germany signed the World War I Armistice document, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The President used these words. "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.

Today we associate Veterans Day not only with peace, but with war. We celebrate with flags, memorials, parades, and acts of kindness for members of the military. We have a collective hug to let them know that we owe them our way of life. Whatever time of year, it makes me teary-eyed to hear someone walk up to a uniformed member of the armed forces and thank him/her for service.

Today, veterans will be remembered in ways large and small. Full-page patriotic messages from military contractors will run in our newspapers. Restaurants will serve veterans for free, and retailers will offer discounts.  Whatever you choose to do, please do something. Donate to a charity for veterans. There should be no veterans sleeping in tents this winter because they are homeless. We need to end that national disgrace. Support companies hiring veterans. How disappointing it must be to come home from war to an economy with no job for you! Attend a local ceremony. We have many in our area. I plan to go to the one in Falls Church, simply to show the veterans who attend that we care.

We owe our veterans so much. There are 22 million living American veterans and young men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't think we can ever fully repay them for their bravery, patriotism, and suffering. There are men and women lying in military hospitals around the country, their bodies and lives shattered. I'm not sure how we can do enough to help them, but I am sure that we all need to try.

The poppies referenced in In Flanders Fields grew in profusion in Flanders, France in the disturbed earth of the battlefields and cemeteries where war casualties were buried - and thus became a symbol of Remembrance Day. The poem is often part of Remembrance Day solemnities in Allied countries that contributed troops to World War I, particularly in countries of the British Empire that participated.

The poem In Flanders Fields was written after Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae witnessed the death, and presided over the funeral, of a young friend, Lt. Alexis Helmer. By most accounts it was written in his notebook the day after the funeral. Because of this poem, poppies have become a symbol of the Armistice.

My mother has a photo of the President of the United States holding her as she gave him a poppy on Veterans Day. As I was growing up, I never fully appreciated the significance of that photo. I do now.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thank you to all the members of the military - past and present - and your families for your sacrifices. We love you.

Yes, it's time for the Friday Forum! The Friday Forum has always been an opportunity to share information. Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Tell us about it! Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Tell us why! Do you have questions others might be able to answer? We can help! Want to talk about skin care? I'm game. Just use the comments. We have busy weekends and slow ones on the forum. I hope to see you in the

Photos courtesy of and

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Friday Forum - November 4

Yesterday, I attended a makeup extravaganza featuring Tim Quinn from Giorgio Armani Beauty at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase. It was crazy busy, but a blast. They were featuring Armani's new palette Eye and Face Palette Limited Edition Holiday 2016 ($140), which I purchased (naturally), Ecstasy Lacquer Limited Edition Holiday 2016 ($38) for the lips (ditto on the purchase), and Tim, the star of the show.

I asked Tim to select a Fluid Sheer for me when he "did my makeup," and he chose the light pink #7. Perfect choice! I might have loved any color he chose since I was drinking mimosas for lunch as I had my makeup perfected. I had a blast!

I haven't had time to take photos of anything I've purchased in the last week. I have had another week of doctor's appointments. I'll summarize with 1) a trip to the Emergency Room ending in a diagnosis of a bruised chest wall, 2) "closure" of my sinus infection with a clean CT scan, 3) an annual wellness exam, and 4) a trip to the outpatient lab for blood work today. I am looking forward to the end of all these doctor's visits.

I really intended to write this week, but between appointments and clouds, I had no time to take photos or write. I've felt like a a gerbil running on a wheel.

The latest Tom Ford Collection has arrived at Neiman Marcus. I just saw it and found it drool-worthy. You might want to check it out. The palette above is Soleil Eye and Cheek Palette ($155) in warm, my choice.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that Sephora's 20% off sale for VIB Rouge members started today. I did a quick scan last night and found very little that enticed me. I have to go look more closely soon before the most desirable pieces start to sell out. I'd love to know what you are eying so that I can see what I've missed.

It's time for the Friday Forum (and my lunch!). The Friday Forum has always been an opportunity to share information. Are you using a fabulous product and want to sing its praises? Tell us about it! Did you find a beauty product disappointing? Tell us why! Do you have questions others might be able to answer? We can help! Want to talk about skin care? I'm game. Just use the comments. We have busy weekends and slow ones on the forum. I hope to see you in the comments.

Photo by Best Things in Beauty