— Life —


Photograph by Jennifer Denton
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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been taking self-quarantine seriously: I get together with friends on Zoom, have my groceries delivered, and I haven’t seen the inside of a hair salon since February. While I’ve adjusted to visiting with friends online, and I’ve never been crazy about grocery shopping… My long, thin grey hair had to go, so a couple of weeks ago I studied some YouTube videos and decided to cut and color my own hair.

If it didn’t turn out well I was going to say my hair had been gnawed off by woodchucks.

Shoulder length and over three inches of grey!

Cutting as I watched an instructional YouTube video on my iPad.

Finished with the hair cut, now on to the roots!

Coloring and listening to music on my playlist.

When I told a girlfriend I was coloring my grey roots she said, “It won’t make you look any younger,” to which I replied, “That’s not why I’m doing it. I don’t have the complexion to go grey.” Even with makeup, grey roots wash me out, and I blend in with the walls. Fifteen years ago I tried being a blonde, and I looked awful.

The final results are not the A-plus job my stylist would have done, but for my first attempt at do-it-yourself hair it looks pretty good.

As soon as I was back to being a brunette I laughed and pointed at the woman in the mirror, and said, out loud, “I remember you!” I may not have looked younger, but I felt younger and moved differently, as though I had turned back time.

Photograph by Jennifer Denton

I’m not one of those women who wants to embrace my grey, but brava to those of you who do!

MOVING ON TO THE MEMOIR I’M WRITING… Until now I have given you a couple of dark passages from what I sometimes refer to as my “involuntary time in the jungle,” but today I thought I would give you something a little lighter to read. It’s a few paragraphs about a bus ride I took by myself from Belize City toward Tikal in Guatemala. This was three hours before I was taken.

@Brenda Ray Coffee, 2020, An excerpt from my memoir.

Above the seat in front of me is a magnificent, almost regal looking creature with long, arched, red and iridescent green tail feathers. I am not sure, but I think it may be a fighting cock. The bird proceeds to claim the canvas bag I’ve thrown onto the overhead rack above my seat, and sometimes I look up to find him peering down at me like he’s reconfirming my bag belongs to him for the duration of the journey. He must be special because he is the only bird allowed inside the bus. The rest are in crates tied to the roof. I think his owner is the man sitting in front of me, because each time I look up at the bird, the man nods at me and smiles like a proud parent.

Everything on the bus strikes me as highly entertaining, and I am wondering if some of the secondhand smoke from Maja’s joint has gone to my head. Mounted over the bus’s front window is a red velvet curtain with red tassels that swing back and forth from ornate scalloped edges. Above the curtain a “No Smoking” sign and a “Not Responsible for Lost Items” sign have been painted in English on the walls of the bus and in-between hang two, hand-painted, wooden statues of the Virgin Mary. Directly in front of the driver another Virgin Mary is suction cupped to the front windshield and appears to be doing battle with a pink, fuzzy Tweety bird affixed in the same manner. I am amazed the driver can concentrate on the road with so many distractions in front of him.

It is not long before I make friends with some of the children on the bus. A few are shy but most are curious about the Anglo gringa. Three little girls have come to offer me peanuts and meat tacos made with strong juicy onions in exchange for pieces of my johnnycakes, and one of the girls just wants to sit next to me and touch my hair.

A speaker overhead is playing American sixties and seventies songs like Bobby Vinton’s “I’m Mr. Lonely” and The Shangri-Las “Leader of the Pack.” “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” has been recorded in Spanish and sounds like it was run through a reverberator in a large stone cathedral. It is corny and sweet, and I am enjoying the music and the kids.

Perhaps it is the tunes and not my bag Mr. Rooster likes, because he is still there, perched on my bag like a king on his throne. His owner has turned in his seat to watch the children crowded around me in the aisle, and each time little liquid droppings from Mr. Rooster fall on my hair or my cheeks, his owner lights up like the bird just played Chopin. I hope this means I have been blessed or something equally as benevolent.

Love, Brenda


  • Gillian Silver August 29, 2020 at 6:13 am

    You have done an amazing job with your hair. I love the style and I know what you mean about Grey not suiting your completion. I have the same issues. However after 3 months my hair was silver white . I’ve been tinting brunette for decades to keep my original colour but the regrowth got me thinking so I got it stripped out and a L’Oreal colour called Milkshake put in and I love it. A little depth, kind of Smokey,but makes my skin pink and glowing . I put the purple shampoo twice a week to keep the roots with a nice soft shadow and all good. I’m Not clever like you to cut my own. It’s too layered. But well done you You . You look very chic ❤️❤️

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:19 am

      Thank you, Gillian! The first cut I made in the back was shorter than I wanted it, but I decided it’s just hair! Nothing to freak out about. Like you, we all need to find what works for us. We’re not a one size fits all. xoxox, Brenda

  • Madeline Griffiths August 29, 2020 at 6:37 am

    Good for you. I’m a red head & will never go grey. Had some blond streaks put in my hair inspired by some young women I worked with briefly. Enjoy your blog. You are one of the few I follow.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:21 am

      Hi Madeline, Thanks for leaving me a message and letting me know you like my blog! It means so much to me! Really! Without you I would not be writing. xoxox, Brenda

  • Tara Dillard August 29, 2020 at 7:13 am

    Great Cut !!

    Cannot imagine anyone in my tribe saying ………….won’t make you look any younger. We KNOW. Instead, amongst us, some choosing to go full on gorgeous gray, color, bleach. We laugh, we honor. Share reasons why we do what we do. Next month’s changes could be the hokey pokey, we laugh and honor again.

    This is OUR TURN. How will we do it? Aging. Keeping joy, navigating sorrow, giving forgiveness, what/who to let go, abiding in God, making political choices, choosing love, navigating our resources, confronting illness, thankful of the gift of stewardship, trusting everything the Garden teaches; replying with poyeema…

    Adoring your rooster. Perhaps the one true thing today, he’s an inner joy, your rooster. Thankful you chose to share him.

    Hair and shoes……fab. Head to toe !

    Looking forward to your book.

    Garden & Be Well, XOT

    • patricia gale August 29, 2020 at 10:51 am

      have no idea who you are but loved your response and thought process…
      refreshing and uplifting.

      • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:30 am

        I agree wholeheartedly with you, Patricia! Tara Dillard is one of a kind. She’s taught me about how to see my outdoor spaces and perhaps most important of all, that every focal point has an opposite focal point. If you aren’t familiar with Tara’s blog, you might stop by and pay it a visit. http://taradillard.blogspot.com xoxox, Brenda

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:23 am

      Tara, Your comments and your blog posts always make me smile. I love your authenticity and your unique way of thinking and writing. You are part of my tribe, and I value and appreciate your opinion. xoxox, Brenda

  • Kathy Witzel August 29, 2020 at 7:27 am

    You look Fabulous!!!!!
    Love how you tell your story!!!
    Miss you & can’t wait for the book!!!
    Keep staying well & safe!!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:24 am

      Thanks for your sweet supportive comment, Kathy! Thanks for being part of my tribe! xoxox, Brenda

  • Donna Nance August 29, 2020 at 9:06 am

    You are a multi-talented woman! Your hair looks fabulous. (As I knew it would). Love the Eiffel Tower mirror… You look very pretty in your festive dress.

    What a great story! I felt like I was riding along with you, rooster poop and all.


    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:33 am

      Hi Donna!! Loved your comment! Thank you! For a beginner, I did a pretty good job, but the back is much shorter than the sides… a slip of the scissors! The hallmark of a great haircut is that it still looks good as it grows out. I can already tell this isn’t one of those haircuts. xoxox, Brenda

  • Mignon August 29, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Great description. I feel like I’m there.
    Also, love your dress!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:34 am

      Hi Mignon! Thanks for leaving me a comment. Mexican dresses! We’re lucky to have so many to choose from here! xoxox, Brenda

  • jeannette August 29, 2020 at 9:14 am

    So pleased to see this in my inbox today. Omg you are brave! The most I’ve done to my hair during quarantine is touch up the roots! lol I did let the grey grow longer for a time just to see. I definitely looked washed out, not my best look. I would never attempt to cut – never.
    Here in Canada our covid numbers are very low which I’m very thankful for. We still take all precautions wearing masks and social distancing but my salon is open now and I was very happy to finally go for a cut and color.
    Thanks for sharing more of your book. Can’t wait to read it it its entirety. Stay safe and be well

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Hi Jeannette, It’s not so much that I’m brave. I couldn’t stand my hair any longer, and I wasn’t going to the salon, so that left me no choice. Besides, my theory was “it’s just hair. If I mess it up, it will grow back.” I’ve been totally bald because of chemotherapy, so at least I knew if my haircut looked goofy, at least I still had hair. Thanks for being so supportive of my book and rooting me on. I appreciate you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Mithra Ballesteros August 29, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Enjoyed the bus ride and agree that you were indeed “blessed.” And thank you for confirming what I’veLearned about gray hair. It doesn’t work with my skin’s sallow undertones. If I could go white, that would be another thing entirely.

    You look fab as always. Hang in there!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Hi Mithra, I have yellow undertones as well, so grey hair looks awful on me, and I’ll pass on the white as well. Thank you my fellow rooster lover! xoxox, Brenda

  • Colleen Fuller August 29, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Except for the children and music, the bus ride would have scared me. Your hair looks great. I think cutting is more difficult than coloring. I love the planter and magenta flowers and the magenta color in your dress and mask. Be well Brenda!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:44 am

      Colleen!!! So happy to see you here! I thought the bus ride was fun. It was an hour or so later that brought things I never could have imagined. I agree with you about cutting hair. It was the most difficult and it’s far from perfect but better than long and scraggly in my face. Hopefully my next cut and color will be in a salon. Stay safe and well my friend! xoxox, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA August 29, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I am getting such a THRILL out of knowing TARA helped you with your GARDEN!
    How is it WE are all SO CONNECTED!?!
    NOW THAT would be FUN and something to LOOK forward TOO………..XX

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:46 am

      Elizabeth, Because of social media our relationships with one another are less than six degrees of separation. I learned a lot about the architecture of garden design from Tara. Writing, writing, writing… xoxox, Brenda

  • Muffie Malherbe August 29, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    So brave to tackle your hair and what a brilliant job. Enjoyed the snipped from your memoir can see it plainly

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Muffie! Glad you enjoyed the short section from my memoir. I loved that bus ride! So unlike anything we’d find here in the States. And my hair… Not sure it was bravery so much as it was out of necessity. See you again soon! xoxox, Brenda

  • Sandra Sallin - http://www.ApartFromMyArt.com From My Art August 29, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    What a gutsy woman. Cutting your own hair. Who cares the color as long as your happy. But cutting it!!!!! Are there woodchucks in Texas? I’ll have to look at those tutorials for cutting hair. Although I don’t know how short I want it to be. I’m waiting to see what happens when you get off the bus. Loving it. can’t wait for the hardbound signed copy!!!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:51 am

      You’re always so supportive, Sandy! Thank you so much! I’m working on my book most every day. Some days I get more down on paper than others. It’s been a strange journey. Look at all you’ve done in your life! You can certainly cut your hair, and if you don’t like it… It will grow back… and yes… Cutting it is the HARD part. xoxox, Brenda

  • Sue Thomas August 29, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Turned out great! I have always joked that all the knowledge in the world is out there on the internet!

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:53 am

      I agree with you, Sue! Everything is on the internet. Several times I’ve put random words together and googled them and there’s a website that talks about it! So bizarre to know the diverse things people are interested in and think about. xoxox, Brenda

  • bonnie August 29, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    you’ve been brave a long time! from the bus ride to the hair shears. that’s a journey! as an aside…i always felt washed out with grey roots, but with a full head of silvers…feels like a crown. just sharing. not judging.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 30, 2020 at 10:56 am

      I love the look of silver hair on some women! It’s chic and anything but aging, and you are one of those women! My life would be a lot simpler if I looked good with grey hair! xoxox, Brenda

  • Juliet August 31, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Brenda – cutting and color your own hair takes guts. I bow down to you. Fabulous outcome as well. Enjoying the snippet from your memoir and look forward to the day I can relax in my garden and devour the entire thing. xo

    • 1010ParkPlace September 1, 2020 at 12:13 pm

      Hello Miss Juliet! So happy to see you here! I don’t know that it took guts… It may have been pure stupidity, but I couldn’t stand the long straggly hair any longer. The hardest part was cutting the back and I got it too short, but it will grow back. Thanks for encouraging me to keep writing. I REALLY appreciate that because writing is such a solitary thing and it is soooo challenging. xoxox, Brenda

  • cindy September 1, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    I cannot wait for that book. You are really keeping us on pins and needles. You have guts my friend. I am not capable of doing anything in regards to hair. I think the last time I tried I was probably two and trimmed my bangs myself. You on the other hand did quite well!

    • 1010ParkPlace September 2, 2020 at 11:24 am

      Thank you Cindy for your interest in my book! Just know I am typing away… I have a finished first draft and am now in the process of “rewriting.” As far as the hair thing… I decided it’s just hair. Not life and death, and hair will grow back if I screw it up, but I’m hoping the next time I can have my stylist do it. Bangs are the easy part. It’s the back of the head that’s the killer! xoxox, Brenda

  • Madeline September 1, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    Your hair looks great! I have been taking this opportunity to grow my hair out and put it in a messy bun. I have nearly white grow out and the ends are light blond so it is not so bad. When it is safe, I will color my hair some kind of very white blond. In the mean time, I have been conditioning my hair and doing lots of facials and other treatments so that I will look fantastic when I can finally travel again. I can’t wait for your book.

    • 1010ParkPlace September 2, 2020 at 11:26 am

      I like your “getting ready” beauty plan Madeline, and I wish the color of your hair looked good on me. Will we ever feel safe enough to travel again? I hope so! Writing as fast as I can to get my book finished! xoxox, Brenda

  • Laura September 24, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    I begin every conversation with my hair girl (and friend) with, “I cut my bangs and I may have added a few layers.”

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