What I learned this week, December 24, 2021

Tough Chicks

Tough Chicks are the coolest type of female around, except maybe for Tough Rich Chicks. But those are rare.

Main Street Park Dallas, Texas

On Self-Respect: Joan Didion’s 1961 Essay from the Pages of Vogue

Joan Didion, author, journalist, and style icon, died today after a prolonged illness. She was 87 years old. Here, in its original layout, is Didion’s seminal essay “Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power,” which was first published in Vogue in 1961, and which was republished as “On Self-Respect” in the author’s 1968 collection, Slouching Towards Bethlehem.​ Didion wrote the essay as the magazine was going to press, to fill the space left after another writer did not produce a piece on the same subject. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count.

Bicycle Drag Races Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Dallas, Texas

Here’s How Much to Ride a Week to Keep Your Brain 9 Years Younger

Cycling definitely helps keep you in great physical shape, but that’s not the only benefit your favorite activity has on your body. According to new research out of Durham, North Carolina, aerobic exercise has some serious perks for your brain, too—like helping to reverse its age by almost nine years.

The mola we bought at the estate sale.

The Secret History of Panamá’s Most Colorful Clothes

In Guna Yala, indigenous women sew stories of legend, revolution, and even Minnie Mouse into the elaborate textiles known as molas.

Commemorative Air Force, Wings Over Dallas, Dallas, Texas

How a White Lie Gave Japan KFC for Christmas

One cunning business maneuver created a tradition and saved a franchise.

St. Vincent’s, New Orleans

Brutal and Unreformed—Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Straw Dogs’ at 50

December 22nd will be the 50th anniversary of the release of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, a film so marked by violent killings and violent sex that, according to Peckinpah’s biographer, David Weddle, a third of the audience walked out of its premiere before the end.

The Dangerous Rise Of Men Who Won’t Date “Woke” Women

Estate Sale Mola

Candy and I have developed a habit of going to Estate Sales in the Metroplex. We have signed up for a couple of email lists and on Wednesday or so get a list of all the sponsored sales that are going on. I go through the lists and pick out any sales that look interesting – then work out a driving route. I have to fight my hoarder tendencies and rarely buy anything, but simply driving around and looking is an entertainment and education in itself.

After a while, most of these sales look the same, but we are getting pretty good at picking out the interesting and unique ones from the descriptions and photographs that are sent out. Last weekend was very busy so I didn’t think I’d go to any sales, but I had a few minutes in the middle of the week and cranked through the photographs on the website.

On one house, in the background, down one hallway, there were some pictures on the wall. One of them looked like a mola.

On the north side of the Isthmus of Panama are a string of islands, The San Blas Archipelago (now called the Comarca Kuna Yala). That is where the majority of the Kuna people live. They are an indigenous tribe that after a long struggle are given some autonomy by the government and still try to cling to their traditional ways. The Kuna are most well known for the colorful cloth artworks they produce as part of their clothing.

These are called molas, and are gorgeous primitive geometric based designs, painstakingly constructed from layers of cloth in reverse applique – where the designs are cut out of the overlaying layers of cloth and sewed back, revealing the colors underneath.

I love these things. We have a few of them that I have inherited back from the time I was a kid and we lived in Panama.

I saw the mola on the wall in the photograph, but it looked silly and poorly made, and I was very busy. Candy called me at work, “Did you see what was on the wall on that one picture.”
“Yeah, it was a mola, wasn’t it.”
“That is the estate sale in Richardson.”
“Really? I was tired and in a hurry… I didn’t make the connection.”

I pulled up the website and Googlemaps and realized that the estate sale with the mola was right on the way home from work. It was a simple deal to stop by and take a look. I walked in and pushed my way into the hall.

I thought the mola was beautiful. The web photo was at an angle and the colors were wrong – making it look bad. In person it was really nice. It was well framed (we have had some framed – it’s not cheap to have that kind of work done) – I really wanted it.

The only problem is that it was priced at thirty five dollars. That’s a fair price… but it’s more than I wanted to pay (or had). So I walked out.

Candy and I talked… most of these Estate Sales drop the price on the last day, so she decided to go out on Saturday when the sale opened and see if the mola was still there. Saturday morning, I went my way and she went to the sale. I called her on my cell and she said it was there and everything was half off. So we bought the mola for seventeen dollars and fifty cents.

Also, she was looking in a bedroom and found another tiny mola… only two inches square, for a couple dollars.

I try not to get too tied up in material possessions, but I really like the mola and am glad to have it hanging on our wall.

The mola we bought at the estate sale.