Pica posing with the last falafel - after we shared a vegetarian platter of Lebanese dishes at Basha. She's wearing her "Celestarium" shawl that she knit herself: it's a large circle that includes a picture of the night sky laid out in tiny pearl beads against the dark blue -- brilliant, and gorgeous.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a wonderful visit from Pica, co-author of Feathers of Hope, which also turned ten that very week. Pica and I got to know each other early in our blogging careers, and then became close through The Ecotone Wiki, a collaboration of writers exploring the theme of "place." Many of us have stayed friends, and continued to blog, for all these years.
Pica is a woman of many talents; in addition to being an excellent writer and editor, she is an avid bird-watcher and sketcher (she maintains a second blog, Bird by Bird, for her avian sketches) and a master knitter who has recently learned to spin her own yarn. Like me, she's still a bit of a hippie at heart, a do-it-yourselfer who's intrigued rather than daunted at the idea of, say, making a solar cooker and cooking the vegetables she's grown in her garden that way; she likes making things with her own hands. Right now she's in-between jobs, and to celebrate that transition she fulfilled a longtime desire, and took a trip by train from California across the country and back, to visit her mother in Maine, with various sidetrips to see friends along the way, recording her travels in a sketchbook.
Somehow - I can't remember exactly - we got onto the subject of personal appearance and getting older, and she told me that her sister in Maine had encouraged her to go to Sephora in Portland to get "a little help and advice". Sephora -- an upscale, hip cosmetics retailer -- has recently opened a shop in the center of downtown Montreal. I'd been inside and admired the packaging of the whole experience, but hadn't bought anything; however, to my complete astonishment, my husband had bought me several Christmas presents there, and raved about what fun he'd had beign helped by a personal shopper who asked him all sorts of questions about me and then recommended products for him to give me - all of which I loved.
"Let's go together!" Pica said. "Look, I was a Sephora virgin
until last week -- you'll see, it will be fun." So off we went, two aging hippies who are into looking "natural."
Well, they were both right: it was quite the experience. We walked into the black, shiny, mirrored store -- dance music was pounding on the speakers -- and some young beauty with a headset offered me a little shopping basket, but I said I wanted some help, so she said, "Sure! Please go over to the beauty bar and I'll call someone to be with you right away." The beauty bar is a mirrored, two-sided, free-standing, well, bar, with tall stools, and is loaded with brushes and tissues and applicators and all the tools of the trade. My personal consultant showed up, and asked what I would like. Taking a cue from Pica's prompts, I said I didn't wear make-up except for a bit of mascara and lipgloss, but was curious about a very light makeup that would "even out" my skin a bit, and about something to help under my eyes.
She took charge. First, using a brush, she painted my face with something called a primer which "protects your pores," so she said. Then she used two different types of a new type of foundation called BB creme, "very light, no oil in these at all" on the two sides of my face, to compare. Then "concealer" under my eyes, presumably to conceal the fact that I've been alive for 60 years and sleeping about six hours a night for weeks. Then powder, so the "concealer" wouldn't be revealed as shiny. Then some blush, since she had obliterated all the color in my face in order to "even things out."
Pica asked lots of interesting questions of our totally bilingual cosmetology pro, whose name was Amina. I mostly held still, amazed to be where I was, putting on my reading glasses every now and then to peek in the mirror.
Funny thing, I actually looked pretty good when she was done, and not "unnatural." And fortunately I made it out of there without spending too much money. When we got home and told J. what we'd done, he was completely disappointed not to have been along - with his camera!
Pica back in our studio, adding color to a pen sketch while I sketch her. This isn't a great likeness, but I like that it includes her starry scarf, travel bag, and her trusty folding Schminke watercolor set!
The really fun thing, though, was having such a lovely visit with a longtime blogger friend. We sketched together, and talked, and ate, and drank wine, petted the cat, and talked some more, and she even came along to two of the Holy Week services where I was singing, which was a pleasure for us both. Some people seem to feel that online friendships aren't real, or can't be as deep as face-to-face relationships, but that just isn't my experience at all. Reading one another's blogs and communicating by email for a whole decade makes me feel that I know friends like Pica better than many people I see much more often. And on the rare occasions when we meet up in person, it's just a confirmation that, yes, these are very real friendships based on trust, honesty, intimacy, shared interests, love, and commitment over the long haul.