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  Updated 1-2-08




























Me and My Feather Sweater

By Barbara Madden

Just one of the many wonderful things about living in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks is the unpretentious and casual atmosphere. Since a wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts will take me just about anywhere I need to go, dressing up usually means nothing more than simply using a little extra spray starch when ironing.

As a self-employed writer who spends a lot of time in the seclusion of my office, I find this very appealing, but recently, I found it necessary to expand my wardrobe to include several items appropriate to wear to a writer's conference.

It was while shopping with my older daughter, who also happens to be my fashion-guru that I lucked up on a treasure trove of highly fashionable sweaters - all on sale. The one I decided to purchase had a princess neckline featuring, of all things, enough black, white and gray ostrich feathers to enable the wearer, if so inclined, to take flight - literally.

Thankfully, my fashion-guru approved.

If not for the conference, this purchase would have been a complete waste of money for someone who delights in the prevailing casual atmosphere found in the hills of the Ozarks, but I was determined to wear the sweater at least once before attending the conference.

My weekly Rotary Club meeting seemed to be the perfect place.

When I arrived at the meeting, my fellow Rotarians, mostly men, were quite taken with my sweater and offered polite commentary on the extremely feathery nature of the neckline.

"What is that? Is it real? What did you have to kill?" were just some of the questions I answered that evening.

Sometime during the meal the subject was changed to why we are offended by ringing cell phones and the people who talk on them while shopping at the mall, driving a car or eating in restaurants.

Then I was asked to introduce the evening's speaker.

While addressing the group, something very strange began to happen to the feathers on my sweater.

To my amazement, the plethora of black, white and gray feathers began dancing and waving in the air like a group of sea anemones from the Nemo movie.

As I bravely continued with my introduction, all while trying to keep the flying feathers from getting into my mouth and sticking to my lipstick, someone's cell phone began ringing...  and ringing ... and

Laughter filled the room, when it finally dawned on me and my fellow Rotarians that the incredibly annoying sound was coming from the purse sitting next to my recently vacated chair.

Thankful for the distraction away from my sweater, I sat down and turned off my phone.

Last week, I left for the conference with the sweater packed safely away in my suitcase.

I am pleased to report that this time when I wore it, the sweater with its plethora of black, white and gray feathers behaved quite nicely.

Copyright 2004 Barbara Madden

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Barbara, who has decided it's best not to stand directly under an air vent while wearing her feather sweater, lives in the Missouri Ozarks with her family and big, black Labrador, Susie Belle.

Barbara is a member of the International Rotary Club, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the Missouri Press Association and co-hosts a Saturday morning radio show called Wake Up Willow. Her column "From My Front Porch" appears weekly in the Howell County News and The Cabool Enterprise. Barbara's Website can be found at 


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