Friday, 30 January 2015

A Winter's Tale .... or.... The Joads Go Skiing

Last week we went skiing. To a lovely old resort, on tiny Lac Morency, in the Laurentians, in Quebec. I won't say that we packed too much stuff.... just that while we were loading the car, I thought of a scene in the 80's television show Designing Women. The episode where the four ladies and their significant others go skiing, and Suzanne has so many suitcases, that Reese quips, "God, we're like that family in the Grapes of Wrath."

1940 film The Grapes of Wrath

Yessiree, folks. The Joads were going skiing. Since we were driving, there was no need to pack light. So... two suitcases (albeit small ones,) two bags of ski jackets, pants and boots, one bag of skates, one bag of toiletries, hairdryer, shaving kit etc. and one bag of books. And since we were staying in a condo with a full kitchen... three coolers and two boxes of food and wine. And that didn't include two ski bags holding four pairs of cross-country skis, two sets of poles, and a variety of waxes etc. And all this fit neatly into my little, two-door Honda Civic. Barely.

We were prepared for almost every winter activity: skiing in just about any condition from new snow to ice to slush, skating on the lake, working out in the gym, swimming in the pool, vegging on the couch with a book, and even dressing up for a dinner out.

This is part of the main lodge at Auberge du Lac Morency. Original parts of the main building date back to the early 1930's. It's nestled on the shores of Lac Morency, in a kind of bowl, surrounded by hills.

I love these little studio condos that look like log cabins. 

We had booked a last minute deal, and our condo was a two bedroom, two bathroom unit, with an upstairs. 

The main floor was all pine and hardwood, with a fireplace and full kitchen. We loved the rustic feel. "It's our kind of place,"  Hubby kept saying.

We had perfect weather for a winter vacation. Brilliant sunshine every day, and frosty temperatures well below freezing. And no wind... well... hardly any wind.

We skied four out of five days. And on the one day when the wind plus the cold made it pretty darn chilly, this is what the well dressed fashionista/skier wore to avoid a frozen face.

This is my "come hither" look. Pretty fetching, if you ask me. 

I kept thinking of that old movie Abbot and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. Remember that? At least when I took off my face mask and hat, my head didn't disappear.

On one day we skied the "Parc linéaire Le P'tit Train du Nord" as they call the refurbished railway line, where the trains no longer run, where walkers and cyclists have full rein in the summer, and where it's groomed and track set for cross-country skiers in the winter. This is a seriously gorgeous trail. Beautifully groomed, with enough of the gentle ups and downs of a typical railway line to make it interesting, but still wide and flat enough to be able to pick up speed and get a really great workout. 

We have a similar trail near our house where we cycle in summer, and ski in the winter. But it has no ski track and, despite the fact that it's supposed to be a "shared trail," in winter, it's primarily taken over by snowmobiles. Unfortunately, many of the snowmobile drivers are not aware of (or choose to ignore) the need to slow down when they pass a skier. So it can get a bit nerve wracking, not to say dangerous. But that's a rant for another time.

On two other days we skied at Parc régional Val-David/ Val-Morin. We accessed the trails at the lovely little town of Val David. But you can also park, and start skiing, a few kilometres away at Val Morin.

This is the old railway station/ tourist bureau in downtown Val David. On Saturday, it was swarming with tiny hockey players, taking part in a minor hockey tournament on the outdoor rink. It was munchkin city; I swear, not one of them came up above my waist. 

This is a shot of the main street of Val David.

This is the beginning of the trail we skied. I didn't take my i-pad out on the trail with me. There were too many hills here, and I was afraid I would fall and crack it. Several times I wished I had it, though. Especially when we were sitting on a bench in front of the cabin where we stopped for lunch, looking out over the hills below, at the perfect snow and the clear blue sky. 

We were not the only skiers in town that day. As we were leaving, we passed these kids on their way to the trails.

On the day we didn't ski, we worked out in the gym, then went for a hot tub and swim. Then vegged out on the sofa with our books. I tried to blog using the "Blogsy" app on my i-pad mini. I had my title all planned "Blogging à la Volée," or "Blogging on the Fly," but the wi-fi signal was too intermittent. Ah well... relaxed sigh... it could wait until we got home. I guess that title should be "Pas de blogging à la Volée."

The one activity we didn't try while we were at Lac Morency was dog sledding. But I went down to the lake to get some pictures. Heeeere they come... these dogs love to run. 

And at the end of a long day of sledding, these pups got a free ride home. 

As evening  fell on the last night of our holiday, Hubby and I got cleaned up and strolled down to the lodge for dinner.

The food is wonderful at L'Auberge du Lac Morency. Dinner is always table d'hote. This is Hubby's first course, endive salad and some sort of terrine/pate. He said it was delicious. 


Hubby's main course was cannelloni. And mine was steak in a Beaujolais sauce with sweet potato crisps. Yum. I tried a new wine... well, new to me... an Italian Sangiovese, recommended by our waiter.  The Auberge is known for its wine cellar, and while I'm no connoisseur, I really do like to try different wines. Hubby had a local micro-brewery beer, which he said was very good.


Dessert was delicious as well, but I was too tired and mellow to take any pictures. My muscles were tired after a hard ski with lots of hill climbing. And I was relaxed and happy, and too full of great food to worry about blogging. 

Yep. We were both mellow and, one might even say, replete. Filled with delicious food, good companionship, and our week of fun in the sun and fresh winter air.  

What fun things are you up to this winter?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Sunday Style III ... When Menopause Is My Stylist

Did you watch soap operas as a teenager? We did. The soaps were all the rage on campus when I was in university. At the Student Union Building (the "Sub"), there was a TV room. (Wow...that definitely dates me.) Carpeted risers, like bleachers that rose up to the ceiling around the room, were packed on weekday afternoons at 3 o'clock. Everyone was crazy for Another World. Some people, ahem, like moi,  even went so far as to skip the occasional Physics 1000 class so as not to miss that classic opening: "And now the continuing story of...." I guess that kind of explains why I became an English teacher instead of teaching ...say... Physics. 

Anyhoo. The "continuing story" of adapting my former work wardrobe to what I call my retirement, casual, no-work-for-me "Sunday Style" continues apace. Like our favourite soap opera, the saga just keeps going on and on. Some characters switch roles, and even have such a personality change they become unrecognizable. Like when Rachel on Another World went from being evil incarnate, to discovering sculpture, to finally being cast as the sensitive artist, loyal wife and mother type. The very model of the quick change artist. 

Such is the story of the jackets I used to wear to work... they need to change roles, big time. Several of them have made the leap from work wear to "Sunday Style." Even so, most of them get little wear in the winter, now, simply because they're too uncomfortable under a winter coat. 

But one jacket I own has potential for winter wear. It's a short, black, zippered jacket by Theory, with a bit of edgy detail, and lots of stretch. That's the big clincher, for me... the stretch. That's what makes it comfortable under a heavy coat. Other good things about Theory jackets are their versatility, they can go from business to casual easily, and they never seem to go out of style. 

I found short jackets of all kinds on Like these three by Elizabeth and James, IRO, and BLK DNM. 


The grey IRO jacket in the middle is the most similar to mine. But I liked what the stylists at Net-a-porter did with the other two as well. 

Okay. Here goes. Let the jacket rehab commence. 

Here, I'm trying my Theory jacket with my leather pants, red Gap tee shirt, and loafers. Looks good, I think. Great for dinner out with Hubby. Or lunch with the book club ladies?

Here you can see some of the detail on the jacket. It has zippers on the sleeves, and  a kind of ruched collar. I'm also wearing a couple of vintage necklaces that I've had for years. I love my red and white beads from the 1920's. 

The jacket has gathering at the waist in back which creates a bit of shape. Good for those of us that don't actually have a waist. Oh... I so want to reach into this picture and straighten out the hem of my tee shirt. 

Here I'm trying the jacket with J-brand skinny jeans, a striped tee from Gap, and my short, black Cole Haan boots. Boy, those are some looong, skinny legs. I maybe need a bit of volume on the bottom. I might switch up the skinny jeans for my bootcut 7 For All Mankind jeans.  Hmmm. We'll see. 


Okay... look Number 3. White gap tee shirt, black J-brand jeans, gold and burgundy silk scarf. I like black and white and gold  together. Warmer than silver, I think.    

So I like all of these looks. They're casual enough for "Sunday Style," and I'm re-envisioning a work-wear jacket that I thought I might have to send to the thrift store. You know... like how they "kill off" characters on soaps when the actors leave to go to another show. So I guess this character will get to stick around for a while, just with a whole new identity.

But, just like winter can throw a monkey wrench into one's style plans, so mother nature of a very different sort horned in on my wardrobe plans today. The kind of mother nature "issues" that often strike women of a certain age, like myself. And create a sort of personal, tropical micro-climate. And when the temperature goes up, the temper soon follows. And patience goes out the window. So trying to adjust a scarf and tuck even the most stretchy and compliant of jackets under my coat elicited a mini tantrum, albeit a silent one. No rolling on the floor and kicking and screaming. Just a reddening of face, a clenching of lips, and a swift and firm removal of the offending articles of clothing. Sigh. That's better.

So the black jacket goes back in the closet, for today. I will definitely be able to place it in my "Sunday Style" rotation. Just. Not. Today.

Today. Menopause has decided what I will wear. My high waist, brown Yoga jeans, more roomy and easier to keep up than my black, skinny, low-rise J-brand ones. I'm keeping the white Gap tee and the gold earrings. And changing the jacket for this camel J Crew sweater, with lace applique. Ahhh. More comfortable. And no fussing with scarves and collars. 

What can I say. I gotta be me. And "me" today is the epitome of that character so often seen in soaps... the evil twin. She looks exactly like that other, cooler-headed, sweeter-natured, more patient with details Sue. But you seriously don't want to mess with her. And when she wants comfort, you jump to comply. 

You see, when menopause is your stylist, one always obeys. Never mind, you can wear the jacket tomorrow.

So does mother nature ever exert her power over your fashion choices? I mean beyond the raincoat when it rains stuff. Come on... do tell. 

Linking up with  Visible MondayPassion 4 FashionFriday Fab FavouritesManic MondayStyle Me Wednesday, and What I Wore,

Monday, 19 January 2015

Further Consequences of Reading: The Goldfinch and "Value Added" Books

I'm a bit late on the bandwagon, I know... but I've just started reading Donna Tartt's newest book, The Goldfinch. I was a little hesitant to even begin it, despite all the praise I've heard. My experience last fall with Eleanor Catton's book, The Luminariesput me right off "big" books. And when I say "big," I mean (mostly) with respect to the huge amount of fulsome praise and media coverage these books garnered. But I also mean "big" in the sense of size. When I looked at Tartt's book (a whopping 771 pages), it just made me feel tired. Kind of how I used to feel when a professor at university assigned a five thousand word essay instead of, say, a fifteen hundred word one. Why, oh why, was it sooo much harder to get started on the bigger task? 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

One Year Old ... and OOTW

Today High Heels in the Wilderness is one year old. So my blog is old enough to start to walk a little, and say first words... and eat cake. But with much, much more learning and growing to come. Yep. That about sums it up. 

This first year has been a huge learning experience for me. I started blogging in order to write about the things that are important to me and which interest me. Things like books and travel and fashion. But I also saw my blog as a vehicle for storytelling. New Brunswickers are inveterate storytellers, must be the Irish heritage. And I come from a long line of storytellers; in my family we tell stories about anything, at anytime, for just about any reason. Seriously, just ask any of my former students. 

But blogging is about more than the writing, although this is the most important aspect for me. And it is these other areas that have presented my greatest challenges. I am NOT naturally gifted at this computer stuff, and I am definitely NOT a photographer. So my progress in those areas has been in baby steps. And progress takes time...but I'm working on it. And learning every day. 

What blogging has given to me over the past year, is a voice. And the ability to connect with people all over world. I still can't quite believe that people from Vancouver Island, or California, or England read my blog and comment on what I've written. And I'm constantly struck by the kindness and generosity of readers. I know my husband is getting a little tired of my following him around the house, i-pad in my hand....going...."Listen to this one, listen to this one..." as I read him yet another comment on a post.'s been a pretty amazing year. One whole year. 

And in that vein....what DOES a one year old wear, anyway?

Why.... play clothes, of course. 

And since it's winter (like I haven't talked about that phenomenon enough already) play clothes must mean ski clothes. Not to mention road trip to get to the trails clothes, and après ski clothes. 

I know I said in my last post Going South, that we weren't, going south I mean, that we were staying put this winter. But we just decided to take advantage of a last minute special at a condo-resort in Quebec, and while we're not going south, we are going skiing for a week. Very soon. 

So I have to go pack. Ski boots, jacket, pants, and long underwear... for the actual skiing. Sweatpants, turtlenecks, and heavy socks for our version of après ski clothes, also known as sipping tea or wine in front of the fire, while reading a good book clothes. 

And for everything else... driving in the car, shopping for groceries and wine, maybe visiting a craft shop or small boutique (maybe)... I'll need jeans, boots, turtlenecks, tee shirts, scarves, and ... fleece. Like my new cozy, raspberry fleece that I bought at Mountain Equipment Co-op before Christmas. And my old, purple fleece vest, my standard winter road trip item. 


Oh...and Gortex, can't forget that. I'll be hauling out my new Gortex jacket, for skiing and driving and, well, everything, really. Everything except the vegging in front of the fire bit. This will be my OOTW... Outfit of the Week. 

I couldn't resist putting that acronym into my title. When I first started reading blogs, and writing my own, I'd sometimes see the letters OOTD on fashion blogs. I had no idea what that meant. I had to "Google" it for a translation. "Outfit of the Day"... OMG did I ever lol. Sigh. I wasn't cut out for this text-speak. I feel as silly writing that as I did trying to mimic a rapper for my grade nine class. Now, that was just embarrassing.

I also couldn't resist taking a close-up shot of my jacket and new fleece... and my new haircut. I love having "freshly cut hair" as my hairdresser puts it ... thanks Carmen. You're the best.

Yep. It's been a very good year. Thanks to all those people who read my posts and comment and those who read and don't comment. Sometime in the next few weeks I will need to give some thought about where I want this blogging thing to go. What I still need (and want) to learn and how I can grow and change (or not change) High Heels in the Wilderness. And I'm excited about that. I love a good project.

Now... on to the birthday cake!

Linking up this week with Style Me WednesdayWhat I Wore

Monday, 12 January 2015

Going South

Last year. Today I've been thinking about last year. When we escaped the endless winter by going south... twice. 

When we spent two weeks before Christmas in Costa Rica. A week on the west coast at a small resort near Quepos, where there was warmth and colour. And no snow. Hubby snapped this view on a day trip drive we took.

And this one just behind where I was lounging by the pool. Pool pictures were NOT allowed ... by order of moi. 

Then we spent a week on the move. We drove inland and up into the cloud forest to Santa Elena, near Monteverde. Where the roads were unpaved, but there were still traffic jams. Like this one.

And views like this. Gorgeous. 

Then we moved on to Arenal. And spent a few days hiking and looking at volcanos. Then back the snow. 

But in February we escaped the snow-that-never-stopped, again, for a few weeks. We drove south to visit friends on Jekyll Island. And saw beautiful Georgia sunsets. Like this.

And had a good old time eating ribs and drinking wine out of plastic cups at Captain Stan's Smokehouse. We loved this place.

Then we moved on south to the Florida Keys. Where the flowers were brilliant. Hubby loves to take pictures of flowers.

And the wildlife posed for pictures. Or couldn't be bothered to move.

Then we ambled back to Naples, Florida, to visit friends who spend a good part of the winter there. I undertook a little retail therapy, and Hubby golfed. And we even spent a day at the rodeo. That was a hoot.

Then we drove home to the... you guessed it... snow. The snow that never stopped falling and didn't leave until June. At least, that's what it felt like.

But this year we're staying put until spring. So I'm endeavoring to be positive about winter, which is no great hardship, if I'm honest. With sunny days that give you a view like this... winter can be beautiful.

And on a gorgeous day last week when I ventured into Manotick for coffee with a friend, I chastised myself for not appreciating, or extolling, the virtues of our little village. For one thing we have a few lovely places to dine and sip. Like the French Cafe where I was meeting my friend Catherine, for lattes and a chat in front of the fire. 

And some of the old houses off Main Street still retain the historic flavour of old Manotick. 

Not to mention Watson's Mill, the historic gem of the village, which still stands proudly on the bank of the Rideau River. 

I strolled down onto the dam to get these shots.

Then back to the car because, as you can see, the sun was sinking in the west (oh.. I do love a good cliché.) Time was getting on. And I still had to get to the library and the wine store.... before heading home.... where Hubby was making dinner. Retirement is tough, eh?

Yep. Winter isn't so bad. A couple of sunny ski days, a glass of wine in front of the fire, a pot of strong tea and a good book. That's about all it takes to warm my little heart and make me glad we're staying put this year.

And the winter, and my new more casual lifestyle, gives me the perfect excuse to haul these babies out of the closet for the first time in years. I hadn't worn these chocolate brown suede and leather boots for a long time until I wrote this post

And I wouldn't be doing this if we were going south, now would I?


What are you doing this winter? Going south? Or staying put?

I'm linking up today with Thursday Blog Hop at Over 50, Feeling 40., Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, and Fab Favourites at Style Elixir, Manic Monday at  More Pieces of Me.