Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind? .... How to Decide What To Wear

Every day it's the same thing. What to wear...what to wear? It's like that old song from the Lovin' Spoonful... "Did you ever have to make up your mind? To pick up on one and leave the other behind?"

 I have no trouble deciding what to buy... I am very organized about shopping (to put it mildly.) I always have a list. I wrote about my shopping philosophy and about my "list" in this post a couple of weeks ago.

It's the deciding what I want to wear on any particular day that I still find challenging. Probably that's because I put too much stock in what I'm wearing; I've always been like that, even as a little girl. If the clothes I'm wearing don't match the occasion and my mood on that day... I get cranky. The outfit just has to "feel" right, or the day goes all wrong. Weird , eh? But there it is... I can't help it. 

So how to choose the outfit of the day; that is the question... "To say yes to one, and let the other one ride.."

Sometimes I refer to my "inspiration board"over my desk. This is a collage of pictures that I have ripped out of fashion magazines because I like the overall look or because an item resembles something I already own and I like how it's styled. These pictures give me ideas. I don't spend a lot of time creating this... I just stack the fashion magazines on the reading "lectern" that my husband built for me on my exercise bike. Whenever I am pedaling, which is several times a week, I flip through the magazines and tear out pictures I like. Then I slap them on my bulletin board. Easy.  

I tore out the picture below because I love this look and because I own a tan safari jacket and a full, brown, pattered skirt. I never think of wearing them together, though. So I have this picture to remind me.

June Issue of Vogue

I also collect the free corporate magazines and "look books" which you can pick up in stores, showcasing the brands they carry. The picture below is from the Max Mara Spring/Summer 2014 magazine. I love the relaxed feel of the model's outfit as well as the combination of navy blue and khaki. The sweater is slouchy but the pants look quite tailored to me. I love this combination. I don't do slouchy terribly well. But a slouchy top with a neatly tailored pant is a look I can love.  

The layout below is from a tiny look book showing the Brunello Cucinelli line for this season. My friend Liz gave me this booklet. Liz is the personal shopper at Holt Renfrew. I love this outfit. The slim, rolled, pants and flowing top. I'd wear this in a minute if I could find a top like that.

But none of these usually helpful sources inspired me on Monday this week. First of all, most of the looks on my inspiration board are for spring, outfits with jackets or long sleeves.  Summer is okay. But, you know, I'm much more of a spring and fall girl... more at home in jackets or sweaters and jeans with boots, than in shorts and beach wear. 

And the forecast said Monday would be hot. So jackets were definitely out. Totally wished I owned that black top above. But I don't. Sigh.

And besides I was feeling inspired by something completely different. Coral toes. Yep. Last Friday when I was NOT playing golf, I went for a pedicure. You can read my post about why I love golf  here. Wink, wink, knowing look, knowing look ..... to quote Monty Python. 

Not playing golf last Friday. And my inspirational toes.
Anyhoo... I absolutely love the colour of the OPI nail polish I chose. A beautiful, bright, clear, coral-y red called "Red Lights Ahead."  And I wanted to match my outfit to that colour if I could.

So...what did I own that might fill the bill? The outfit would need to have some red in it and yet be nice enough to wear to my book club luncheon and cool enough to sit outside comfortably on my friend's deck. 

 The choices:

#1 My red, liberty print blouse, very light cotton with a lovely red cherry pattern and my white, cropped Hudson jeans.
#2 My short sleeved Burberry blouse with the heart pattern and my black Theory capris. 
#3 My coral Elie Tahari jeans from two years ago and a loose sleeveless blouse from Judith and Charles. 

Hmmmm. The Burberry blouse and Theory capris didn't even make the first cut. The top makes me look washed out with my hair this colour and the pants are too much like work wear. This outfit bored me. 

Hmmmm. I love this Liberty print blouse. The pattern changes inside the collar and cuffs to dark red poppies. So cute. I also like this shirt with my white jeans. Spiffy enough for book club, casual enough for lunch on the deck.

This outfit would give me the chance to wear my new Kate Spade bracelet (outlet shopping in Florida!) and the Kate Spade earrings I got for free with my promotional gift card from Holt Renfrew. I timed the purchase of a coat I wanted so as to take advantage of their 25% promotion and voila...free earrings.

Nah. Not feeling the love. 

On the other hand, I felt drawn to my coral jeans. I rolled them up, the better to showcase my new sandals and newly painted toes. The Judith and Charles blouse would be cool on a hot day. I never actually thought of pairing it with these pants before, but I like them together. And I added my cheapie gold hoops with the red bobbles that I bought at Pier One Imports (while shopping for furniture...)

And the colour match with my toes was perfect, as least from up here.

So the decision was made. I finally decided to "pick up on one and leave the other behind." My outfit would be comfortable and spiffy enough for my book club meeting. And it totally suited my mood. It  just felt right. This would be a good day.

 Post Script... 

This is the book we read for our book club discussion. Well, kind of read; I only managed to get half way through it. I was definitely NOT feeling the love. And that was pretty much the consensus of the other members of our group. Ah well, at least the sun was shining, the wine was cold and the food delicious. 

And....note that the cover of the book is the exact colour (well, almost) of my newly pedicured toes! 

Sigh. Life is good.

What do you do to make up your mind in the morning? To "finally decide; to say yes to one and let the other one ride."

This week I'm linking up with the Thursday Blog Hop at Over 50 Feeling 40   and Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Why I Love Golf

I love golf. I started to play not long after I met my husband. He's an avid and excellent golfer and has been playing since he was a teenager. 

It all started with his teaching me to swing the club on the front lawn. Then we played our first game and I parred my first hole. Yep... I hit that darn little (one could even say minuscule) ball into the equally tiny hole in 4 strokes! Mirriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines "par" as "the number of strokes a good golfer is expected to take to finish a hole or course." Pffft, I thought dismissively... this game is easy... and fun. 

For a few moments I dreamed of playing at some of Prince Edward Island's fabled courses when we were at our rented cottage that summer.

And then later sipping afternoon tea on the veranda at Dalvay By The Sea... me in my fetching little golf skirt and sun visor.

Dalvay By the Sea
Then my husband cleared his throat and said, "Suz, you need to tee off." And with the second hole, the fun ended. For years. 

I took lessons from a good friend of my husband's who teaches golf. I learned a few tips. I had a couple of lessons from the golf pro at a local course. Then I took a series of weekly lessons offered at the RA Centre here in Ottawa. (The RA is a recreation facility and organization set up primarily for federal civil servants but open to the public. Hubby played in a hockey league there for years. And I tried to learn to play squash there a few years ago. But that's another story.)

Anyway... every single golf coach or teacher with whom I worked said: "Great swing, Sue." Apparently I looked great; I had good form. I gripped the club properly, kept my head down, rotated all the parts that were supposed to be rotated, followed through with my swing. And couldn't hit the ball to save my life.

Oh, I had a few moments of improvement. Just enough to keep me hopeful. I could chip pretty well. That's the short shot you take to get the ball onto the green. But with the longer shots, I continually "topped" the ball. That means you don't hit it squarely, but kind of skiff the upper half and thus move it about three feet. My legs are too long, I'd cry. Then on hubby's advice, I'd adjust my hand position to try to correct this and I'd swing and dig up about six feet of turf. I could feel the vibration of that all the way down to my toes. "You don't practice enough," Hubby would say. Gawd, I'd think... you mean four hours on the golf course wasn't practice enough?

Then all of a sudden I got better. 

We had been to see the movie Bull Durham while we were on vacation in P.E.I. The next day when we were (trying) to play nine holes of golf... I said to my husband, "I'm going to take Susan Sarandon's advice. What she said in the movie to that pitcher who was psyched out about the game. She told him to stop thinking and 'breathe through [his] eyelids.'"

So I did. I just stepped up to the ball and swung and didn't think about stuff. Wowee... the ball flew through the air. Straight at the flag. I scored a 5 on that hole! And even better than that... I overheard a man and woman on the next fairway... and the man was saying to the woman..."Just do it like that lady over there." And amazingly, he gestured towards... me!

This is me during my "skillful golfer" period. Keeping my head down and putting out at Glen Afton Golf Course on P.E.I. Note that my pink visor matches my pink golf ball. 

Okay. Well that transformation lasted for about three games and then my skills disappeared as mysteriously as they had arrived. I breathed through my eyelids like there was no tomorrow... with no luck. Sigh. 

Then I started having major upper back issues. Naturally rounded shoulders, too many long hours hunched over my marking (English teacher = essays, essays, and more essays to mark) and poor positioning when I was cross-country skiing and paddling etc etc all added up to lots pain and months of physiotherapy. And golf became painful in a whole different way. 

The last morning I played we started early, the weather was quite cool, and my muscles were tight. On the first tee, I swung at the ball and felt a jab of pain through my shoulders and neck. Then I couldn't turn my head. Then I was done. I was totally done! "Maybe golf just isn't my game," I said tearfully to Hubby. 

I hate to admit I can't do something. I hate to admit defeat. But golf had defeated me. Hubby replied, "Maybe golf isn't a good game for a perfectionist with poor hand eye co-ordination." Ouch!

So I gave up on golf. That was a few years ago, now. Since then Hubby and I have both retired from teaching. Which means that we're both home... at the same time... a lot. 

Before I go on, it's important to understand one thing about my husband and me. He's a morning person: a get up and get moving, with enthusiasm, best part of the day, has fifteen things done before 7:00 A.M. kind of person. I'm not. I'm a roll out of bed, stagger around, make a cup of tea, sigh, drink another cup of tea, maybe sit and read my book for a bit, then have another cup of tea before I do anything person. Well, except when I had to get up for work; that was different. 

Which brings me to this morning. It's Friday. Hubby has a regular Friday golf game with a group of his hockey buddies. They tee off early, naturally. 

When I stagger out of bed and put the kettle on, the house is silent and still. The sun is shining. I make my tea and take my cup and my book out onto the deck and sit there in my pyjamas. I sip my tea and read my book for a half hour. Then I don my sneakers and shorts and plug my i-pod in; I'm listening to a great Peter James mystery this week. And I head out for my power walk. I feel justifiably pleased with myself, and my world. Back home I shower and wash my hair. Then I make a pot of tea and an omelet for breakfast which I eat on the deck, and read my book some more. For a few moments I just sip my tea and look at the sun glinting off the river. And breath.

I so love these mornings to myself. 

Don't get me wrong. My husband and I do all kinds of things together. We have learned to make allowances for our conflicting natural bio-rhythms. We cycle together at least twice a week, we fish and canoe, and camp, and hike, and travel together and talk politics and books and food and truly enjoy each other's company. 

But I do so love these mornings to myself. 

And that dear readers is why I love golf. Not my futile efforts to swing a club and hit a tiny (yes, minuscule ball), not my fleeting moments of success at doing so, not even the cute pink sun visor. But those blissfully quiet and solitary mornings...when Hubby is out golfing... and I'm not. 

Friday morning...not golfing.

So dear readers... any surprising things that you love that we might not expect?

 ***Note: Thanks to Frances at Materfamilias Writes for the spelling of "Pfffft." She used the word in a post and I thought ... that's the perfect way to express that little expulsion of dismissive air we make when we're being...dismissive. You can read her original post here.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Never, Never say Never

I've just read on Wikipedia that apparently it was Charles Dickens who is credited with coining the phrase "never say never," in Pickwick Papers in 1837. But that's just what I did back in April of this year. Said never, I mean.

And I did it in writing. 

And I said it publicly. On the internet.

Where it's recorded forever...because, of course, everything on the internet is there.. for ... ever.

In April, I wrote a post on this blog about a few of the new trends for spring and summer... trends that made me say "No way, Jose!" You can read it hereOne of the trends I said I would never, never fall for again was drawstring pants, particularly of the full-legged variety. 

Like these ones from Vince.com.

I think these are dreadful. As I said in my post, I had a pair in the 90's: "They weren't very flattering then. I can't imagine how they would look on me now. Well, I can imagine, which is why I WON'T be trying them on. Too depressing. Like bathing suit shopping."

Oh, the vehemence of the soon to be proven wrong! Because I took another look at the pants on Vince.com.

And saw these:

And then, when I was on my exercise bike and leafing through the June issue of Vogue, I saw this picture. Gorgeous.

So I kind of scrunched up my eyes. If I got rid of the platform shoes and the pop top.... I think... maybe... I could make these work? Maybe.

Then last week, when I was out shopping and lunching with a friend, we stopped into one of my favourite shops... Green Tree Eco Fashion on Richmond Road, here in Ottawa. I love this store. They have a great collection of casual clothes...sweaters and tops and pants that are cool, and a bit edgy, and slightly different from anywhere else. 

I was actually looking for high waisted skinny jeans. I had tried on a few pairs and nothing suited... when Mary, the sales person I usually deal with, handed me a pair of pants...."I know they're not jeans...but just try them. See what they look like," she said. Black pants...I don't need another pair of black pants. And they have a draw string. They'll look awful on me. "Just try them," she said.

Yep. She was right...as usual. Mary really knows her stuff. They looked great. And felt wonderful. So I came home with them. 

The pants are designed by a local company called "studio d" who makes what they call "Yoga Inspired Apparel." 

Although they're roomy, because they have a narrow silhouette, I don't get lost in them like with wide-legged pants.

I love the slouchy pockets and the stitching down the leg. I could wear these pants just about anywhere. 

Like, out for a summer supper with my husband. I added my new cotton mesh, short sleeved sweater that I bought on-line from Gap (40% off sale), my old sliver and gold sandals and a vintage necklace and earrings of my mum's. If the weather turned cool, I could throw my safari jacket over this outfit. 

My uncle brought this necklace and earrings back from Korea for my mum in the 1950's. So sweet, I think.

Or I could trade up the jewellry for gold earrings and cuff, add my gold and black silk Elie Tahari top and my grandmother's clutch bag. 

I love this purse. My aunt, who was pretty stylish in her day, had this made in Montreal for my grandmother, sometime in the 1940's, I think. It has my grandmother's initials on it. It's a bit battered, but I think that makes it look kind of edgy and not too prissy. 


Or I could wear my new pants antique shopping. There's a wonderful country antique fair in July not too far away from here. But it can mean a long day, so you have to dress comfortably and have your hands free. I'd roll up the pants, add my white Theory shirt with a cami, and my new Michael Kors sandals. Oh....and a small cross-body bag, like this.

This is a close up of the earrings. I bought them at Pier 1 Imports last summer.... $8.00. Pier 1 sells jewelry. Who knew?!  I went shopping for a side table for the living room and came home with earrings!

For a day of downtown shopping or lunching I'd swap in this loose silk top from Rag and Bone.  Add these crochet earrings and my favourite (humongous) Michael Kors bag. 

The top has a strip of open-stitch crochet work across the shoulders and down the sleeves, that the picture doesn't show very well, making it cool on a hot day. I bought this last summer in Toronto....shopping with my gorgeous 27 year old actress niece. Now there's a humbling experience...shopping with a beautiful 27 year old! Ah well... never mind... mustn't grumble. We did have  a great day. 

But for my life-style these days...especially in the summer... I'd probably wear the pants most frequently with my striped Gap-Fit tee shirt and flip flops. I could always add my jean jacket at night if the temperature dropped.

We will be going on two camping trips this summer. And a couple of long road trips... to Quebec City and then up the Saguenay River to a little village called L'Anse St Jean. Then another trip down east to visit family. So lots of time in the car requires very comfortable clothing. And these pants are sooo light that I could rinse them out at night and they'd be dry by the morning. Great for travel! 

You know... I don't think that I've ever owned a pair of pants that offered so much scope for outfit planning. Or as Anne of Green Gables said..."So much scope for the imagination!"

I'd like to be able to say that I've learned my lesson about never, never saying never. But while I'm pretty easy going about everything else in life... I do tend to be emphatic about clothes. 

So I'll probably... undoubtedly... say never again. And live to regret it.

And, hey, if you are down on Richmond Road in Ottawa why not stop into Green Tree Eco Fashion and say hello. 


Have you had any "never again" moments... that turned into "well, maybe" ... ??

I'm linking up this week with Thursday Blog Hop at Over 50, Feeling 40 and Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Investment Dressing ... My 5 Rules for Not Wasting Your Money

I have always been a believer in the idea that you get what you pay for.....most of the time. And I have always believed that it's NOT necessarily a waste of money to NOT shop the sales, to NOT go for the cheapest choice; it's sometimes better to spend a bit more, to spring for the more expensive item. Depending on the item, of course. 

It's called "Investment Dressing." And according to Trinny and Susanna and Stacey and Clinton...and probably every fashion stylist out there... what's most important is not how much you pay for a piece, it's the eventual cost per wear over the life of the garment. 


I think that investment dressing makes sense...up to a point. But investing in a big ticket item can be a problem; it can be tricky. Especially if you invest a big chunk of change and it's all a big mistake. 

So here are: 

A. My five rules for shopping for investment pieces...well, actually they're my rules for shopping for anything, really. I'm not a professional, nor an expert... they're just "Sue's Rules."  

B. And four investment pieces that I have purchased over the last few years...that have "earned their keep", so to speak. They still fit, still look good and still feel current. Definitely worth the investment.

Rule #1   Know your own style. What looks good on you? What doesn't? Write this down if you have to ... and don't be dissuaded by zealous sales people who try to tell you otherwise.

This is a safari jacket by Elie Tahari that I bought in 2011. I love jackets. I wear them a lot. They have been part of my style since my university days. I've updated it this year with a new tee shirt from Gap (on sale!) and a vintage necklace and earrings from the 1950's that belonged to my mum.


Rule #2   Know your wardrobe. What items do you already have? How many times have you bought something only to get home and realize that you already own that top...or one very like it? Go through your closet and make a list of what you already own that is still wearable this season... skirts, tops, pants, jeans, jackets, dresses, suits etc. Don't put items on the list that don't fit anymore or that are dated or that you hate. 

This silk giraffe-print dress is also by Elie Tahari. I bought it in 2010 when I didn't really have any summer dresses. I had lots of pants, and shorts and a couple of skirts. But I really wanted a dress. It's very comfortable with soft pleats that make it easy to move around in and thus good to wear to work or out for lunch. I love the little self belt and the ruffled collar, which unfortunately you can't really see here. 


Rule #3   Do your research. Find out about the current trends. Before I go shopping with a friend I always tell her to "do her homework." Read the fashion magazines, look on-line. There are tons of good websites out there that will show you what the trends are for the current season. If you've read my blog before, you'll know that I love Net-a-porter.com for this.

 If you've done your research, you'll know that denim is big this year. But then, it's always big, isn't it? I bought this Burberry denim skirt three years ago. It has outside seaming... I think that's what it's called... and a slit in the back with four lovely, pewter buttons. And the skirt never loses its shape. 

I bought this blue cotton sweater with the silk collar and ruffle down the front at the same time. This outfit is a summer staple for me. I can wear just about any colour of tank underneath. Or swap the sweater for a jacket or just wear the skirt with a tee shirt.   

Rule #4   Make a list of what you need. Or want.  

This is my list for Spring 2014. Yep...I know... it's a bit anal. But I never end up with something that's too similar to what I already own...and I always remember what I need or want. That's because it's on the list! 

On my shopping list for several years was a leather jacket. I searched for just the right one and finally found it in 2008.... a soft, chocolate brown one from Akris. A bit more pricey than I wanted to pay. But I have never regretted buying this jacket. I love it.

It has cool zipper details on the sleeves and down the front. Imagine my delight the last couple of years when all the fashion magazines and blogs were oohing and aaahing over the "Moto jacket."  Unhuh...yep...I had one of those!

I can wear my Moto jacket with just about anything, any season. In summer I love  it with my white jeans and a brown tee shirt. 

Rule #5   Get Good Advice. This might be an honest, yet stylish friend. One who knows what she is talking about. Or a salesperson with whom you have built up a rapport. 

And here is my secret weapon. One that many people don't know about...or never think about...or don't understand. The Personal Shopper. I think that most people do not realize that Personal Shoppers are there to assist you at whatever level you need. They can help you find a whole new wardrobe...or for clients like me..that one special piece. They provide a service that does NOT cost extra.

 My friend Liz is the Personal Shopper at Nordstrom in the Rideau Centre here in Ottawa. She is amazing. She has tons of experience and tons of fashion savvy. She's really down to earth and easy to talk to... not intimidating at all. She wouldn't be in her position if she didn't have these qualities. Her goal is to build a relationship with her clients....not just to make a sale. In fact making a sale and making the client unhappy while doing so is the opposite of what she is about. 

Over the years... I always visit Liz when I am looking for an investment piece for my wardrobe. I generally call and let her know when I'm coming into the store. And I let her know what I'm looking for that season. Because ... I always have a list... well, d'uh!

Liz helped me find all the investment pieces I've talked about in this post. You can give her a call if you're in Ottawa and she'd be happy to help you find what you need. 

I don't shop exclusively at high end stores. And not all of my wardrobe consists of high end "investment pieces." I supplement my higher end items with tops, jeans and tee shirts from Gap and Zara, for instance. I have a few vintage pieces as well. 

I don't believe in wasting my fashion dollars; I do believe in investing my money wisely. An investment piece to me is something that is well made, classic, and which I don't mind spending a bit more to buy because I know it will last for years. 

Now ... I have to go clean up the mess on the spare room bed and hang up all my "good clothes" ....

The sun is shining; I have a good book and a cup of tea waiting for my attention....and this is what I'm wearing for the rest of the day!

What strategy do you use when you're looking to invest your fashion dollars?

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Loose Talk ... The Trouble With Twitter... Among Other Things

I wrote a blog post a week or so ago about a great book that I had just read called The Last Enchantments. You can read that post here. Then I discovered that the author Charles Finch is on the list of followers on Twitter who follow a former student of mine whom I also follow. Follow me so far? 

So I sent him a message on Twitter that I had written a post about his book. And had a fun three-way conversation with him, and my former student. 

So the next day, I'm telling my mum all this on the phone. Now my mum is pretty internet savvy... especially for an octogenarian. She e-mails, surfs the net and knows about Facebook, although she's not on it. But trying to explain to her about Twitter, and how I follow this former student, who follows this writer etc etc was challenging, to say the least. 

And when I was done, she said ... "You follow a student?" 
Okay. I'll admit that DOES sound a bit creepy.

"And she follows this writer?" my mum went on.
Well, kind of... 

And then the image of me, my former student and the novelist, each trailing the other down a darkened street, came to mind. Dodging around corners, and pressing ourselves against buildings. Stopping to pretend to tie a shoelace, or to look in a shop window only to glance up to see where the quarry has gone. And behind us there is someone else doing exactly the same. 

Hmmmm. Very "Spy vs Spy."

All of which kind of gets me to my point. About the nature of our changing language. And how if we aren't clear WHICH usage of a word we mean when we use it....we can be conveying a very, very different meaning than the one we intend. 

Take Twitter, again, for example. I heard on a CBC radio program the other day that while the name Twitter was chosen early on by its creators, the term "tweet" ( for a message sent via Twitter) evolved later. It makes sense... birds twitter collectively and tweet individually.  

And just remember NOT to confuse tweet with chirp...which birds also do.

And people, apparently. As in the comment made by my husband early in the hockey season...."Sidney Crosby is always chirping at the referees." Meaning trash-talking, or criticizing.

And I guess chirping means a whole other activity in the UK...where according to Urban Dictionary it means to "chat up" or "woo." Sigh. I'll never keep up with this.

You see? ... We get into trouble when we use colloquialisms, or slang, that can be specific to a certain location or an era. 

Or when we use jargon that is specific to a certain job or activity. 

Like sports. I can never follow (there's that word again) what my husband is saying when he uses sports jargon. Like when I was learning to play golf. He'd say..."Stop trying to hit the ball so hard; play within yourself." Huh?

Like the e-mail exchange last week between Hubby and his golfing buddies when they were trying to organize a game, and the weather forecast was for rain for that day. The organizer who was booking the tee times e-mailed Hubby that he should look at the weather the morning of the game and "make the call." 

Now... was he speaking metaphorically...sports-metaphorically??? As in make a decision?

Or was he speaking literally, as in actually picking up a phone to cancel their bookings???  Or both? I'm so confused.


I've made hundreds (I'm sure) of boo-boos over my teaching career because the slang had changed and I was unaware. One of my best stories for the misuse of words whose meaning had changed happened a few years ago in my grade 12 English class. 

We were reading Shakespeare's King Lear and I had just shown the DVD for Act 3 Scene 7, wherein Regan (evil daughter #2) and her husband, the Duke of Cornwall,  blind poor old Gloucester for trying to help Regan's father, the former King. They poke his eyeballs out. Oh yes, they do-oo. On stage; pretty disgusting, eh?

And as he supposedly pops Gloucester's eyeball,  Cornwall chortles ..."Out vile jelly!" I always play up that line...it's so gross, kids love it.

Lear comforting Gloucester      theshakespeareblog.com

So, we'd just finished watching this scene and a very excited girl, burst out..."Oh Miss! That was sick! I don't mean, like, sick..I mean like...sick!!!" 

And amazingly enough... I actually understood her. She didn't mean"sick" as in the new slang for "great" ... but in the way old people (like me) used it to mean "unnatural" or "insane."

On a side note (side bar?) ... the picture below is from the version of King Lear we were watching. It's fabulous. Ian Holme does a masterful Lear and Amanda Redman is the most wonderfully evil Regan I've ever seen.

The speed at which slang has changed over the years of my teaching career has been swift, always surprising and most of the time well beyond my capability to keep pace with.  Yet, sometimes it's amazing how even when using language with which we are all familiar...kids can still surprise us with their linguistic ingenuity.

Take for instance something that we teachers always laugh about. The seemingly unlimited versatility of that most famous four letter word ... the F-bomb. 

Like this story. A few years ago, a colleague of mine was approaching a student in the hallway who was trying in vain to make the water fountain work. The student eventually gave up, delivered a half hearted kick in its direction before turning to my colleague in exasperation... "Sir, the f**king f**ker's f**ked!" 

This story made for great hilarity at our end of semester English and Languages Department party. I recall with a smile the sight of my friends, all teachers of language, all standing with glasses of wine in their hands, parsing this sentence. '"F**king'...yes, that's used as an adjective here...of course 'f**ker' is the noun and 'is f**ked' is the main verb."  Language teachers...you gotta love 'em!

Okay..so that story is not exactly about how language can be confusing because it has changed. I just love it, that's all. And when I told my husband what I was writing my blog post about....he said..."You have to use the f**king f**ker story!" So I did.

Communication is difficult. When I was still teaching I used to get teased by students and fellow teachers alike for gesticulating and waving my hands around when I talked. I simply could NOT make my point without using my hands. Not to mention tone of voice, facial expressions and the always effective communication tool of looking at kids over the top of my glasses. 

It's so very much harder to make one's point clear in writing. The words have to speak for themselves. 

And, you know, that's hard enough without the meaning of words all changing on us. Or for some of us... with the rest of us having no clue that the meaning HAS changed....so we don't know WTF is going on! 

So...am I tweeting there or chirping? Or both? Or neither?