Thursday, 31 December 2015

Paying It Forward, Or Back, Or Something ... Five Favourite Blog Posts from 2015

I read a lot of blogs. Now. But, I was slow to catch onto the idea of blogging. I'd never even read a blog until 2012, when a few months before I was scheduled to retire from teaching, I saw a profile in Vogue of Preston Davis and her very successful fashion blog Keep It Chic. So I started with that one. Then I checked out several of the blogs that Preston recommended on her "blog roll" and hit upon That's Not My Age by Alyson Walsh. I love Alyson's idea of "grown up dressing" for women of a certain age, who want to be current, and comfortable, and still cool. 

scene from Absolutely Fabulous
AbFab shot from Alyson's post "How to avoid looking like a hot menopausal mess."
And on it went. I'd check blog rolls, find links to other blogs that interested me, click on readers' comments on blog posts, if they had a link, to see what I could find. And a whole new community opened up before me. Women of my age who shared my interests were writing, reading, commenting, joking, supporting each other, sometimes chiding each other. Fashion blogs, book blogs, travel blogs, living life and writing about it blogs. 

I'd been toying with ideas for retirement "projects" that would be interesting, fun, and engaging. And employ some of the skills that I thought I possessed, or hoped I possessed, some of which I'd developed as a result of teaching, and others which I had set aside when I started teaching. And the idea of writing a blog struck my fancy. Lots of stuff happened in between the idea and the reality of blogging, and in January 2014 I pressed "publish" for the first time. 

But this post is NOT about me and my blog. I want to talk about those other blogs. The ones that I still read each day, that inspire me, and instruct me, and make me think, and sometimes laugh. So here is a list of my favourite posts of 2015 from my favourite blogs. 

 Materfamilias Writes is one of the first blogs I found back in 2012, and I still read it regularly. Mater writes about travel, books, running, family, and her life as it unfolds now that she's retired from academia. She's a fabulous writer. One of my favourite posts this year is Foggy Thoughts from the Margins, about foggy weather and foggy thoughts, and returning home from an extended trip to grapple with the changes wrought by "this whole retirement gig, one day at a time." 

foggy morning on Materfamilias Writes
Shot from "Foggy Thoughts from the Margins"

Une Femme d'un Certain Age is also one of my daily reads. In the post Is chic passé? "une femme" offers her definition of chic, a word that she feels has become "so overused as to be rendered almost meaningless." She nails it, in my opinion. Which is why this post stuck in my head. 

Is chic passe? from Une Femme d'un Certain Age
Shot from "Is 'chic' passé?"   source
I also love her travel, and packing for travel, ideas. I'd never have purchased my new set of "four-wheeler" luggage if I hadn't read those packing posts. But the post that really surprised me, and which I love, is Beanie Girl where "une femme" shows us her new "do." I have to say I actually gasped when I scrolled down and saw that fabulous new haircut. Now that's chic! 

I'm a long time reader and subscriber of the blog Privilege , and my favourite post that Lisa wrote this year is California Jeaning, North. She plays around, in this post, with all kinds of demin styles... even skinny jeans... which her long-time readers know are NOT her favourites, even though she looks awesome in them. I love the line ... "Then I retired. Refused to wear tight pants ever again," as she goes on to describe her fav style. Boyfriend, baggy, and "faded of its own accord."

California Jeaning on Privilege
A shot from California Jeaning, North
 Lisa writes about style, gardening, decorating, books, and whatever is on her mind at 8:15 (or 9:04) on Saturday mornings. But I really love it when she writes about her "high wasp" heritage, as she calls it. And I really loved this post: Writing The Book On High WASPS, As It Were

Also on my 'daily reads' list is DA Wolfe's wonderful blog Daily Plate of Crazy, about style, culture, women's issues, relationships and more. In fact the blog isn't just about these topics, it digs into issues surrounding them. My favourite post, Looking Askance at Looksism is informative, thought-provoking and very wise. I was excited last summer to be asked by DA to be part of her Makeover Series, and I was included in her post Midlife Make-over: Shake Up Your Make-up.  That was very cool. But I won't go on... having gone on and on so much about that experience already. 

Another blog that I check regularly and love for its quirky raison d'être, is the appropriately titled Clothes in BooksCould there be a better blog for me? Each post features a particular book, and includes an excerpt from the book dealing with clothing or accessories, and then a brief analysis of the excerpt and of the book. One of my favourite posts is Thursday List: More About the Mitfords. Not surprisingly I'm heavily immersed in Mitford-land again these days. But more on that in a later post. 

Mitford girls
Shot from "More about the Mitfords"
Of course Clothes in Books deals with topics other than the Mitford family. I love the mystery novel posts, especially a continuing series this month on the novels of Ngaio Marsh. It's funny, I was attracted to the blog by its name, and by the vintage photographs of dresses and hats, but I keep going back for the wonderful content.

These five blogs have all been around a good deal longer than mine. I've not only enjoyed reading each of them, I've learned so much from them. About books, and life, and fashion... and about how to write a great blog. 

I'm going to add one more blog that I really like: Forage Fashion by Heather Wyancko. I love it simply for the beautiful clothes, beautifully styled, and beautifully photographed. As far as I can see, Heather never puts a foot wrong, sartorially speaking. These are shots from a couple of Heather's posts.

black and white on Forage Fashion
Forage Fashion

outfit from Forage Fashion
Forage Fashion
In the three or more years I've been a part of the blog world, first as a reader, and then as a writer, I've always been impressed by the kindness and generosity of the women I've "met" there. And by their talent, ingenuity, and joie de vivre. I'm so glad that I clicked on that first link back in late 2012.

But, I think it's sad that some of the well established, "big" blogs have moved away from including "blog rolls" on their sites. This seems to me to be counter intuitive, and not very "blogosphere-community minded" ... if you know what I mean. If not for lists of recommended blogs on the first sites I visited, I might never have found the wonderful blogs that I now read regularly. 

The internet is a huge and varied place. There are millions of blogs out there. Blog rolls are just friends helping friends find what they're looking for. Kind of like paying it forward. Or back. Or something. 

By the way, I've been listening to the news of the fires Downunder, and the tornadoes in the States, and the floods in the UK. Hope that you are all safe. And that you have a wonderful 2016. 

And that'll you'll spend some of your 2016 back here with me.

What are you reading on-line these days? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Festive Party Time: Dressing Down to Dress Up

'Tis the season, folks, for dressing up. But, you know, I find as I get older, I'm not as excited by the prospect of getting dressed up as I used to be when I was in my twenties. Maybe I'm jaded after the surfeit of party and dress-up outfits in the seventies and early eighties. I'm remembering sky-high heels with tight pants, a sparkling sweater with a black leather skirt, or, my favourite, a head to toe winter white outfit. I still have a vivid picture in my head of that winter white outfit. A beautiful cream sweater with matching slim-cut wool pants that I wore with burgundy high heels. And I have an even more vivid picture in my head of the bottle of red wine that someone knocked over one night in a restaurant, and my unsuccessful attempt to scramble out of the way as the wine flooded across the table, dripped onto my sweater and pants and pooled on my chair. Oh... I was greatly distressed... so distressed, in fact, that I didn't even notice that the stain matched my pumps perfectly. I could ill-afford that outfit to begin with, let alone having it ruined on its first outing. It's ironic that, over the years, my desire to "put on the Ritz" diminished, as my ability to afford to do so grew.  

These days I'm not attracted to head to toe sparkle, or sky-high heels. Now-a-days I'm more interested in dressing down when I dress up, pairing something festive, with something more casual. Below are some of the looks that I added to Pinterest when I was looking for inspiration for holiday party wear this season. 

I love this outfit from the J. McLaughlin Holiday Collection. I had never heard of this company until I read a post on the blog Habitually Chic. I love this outfit, and the mix of cozy casual sweater with the flashy gold pleated skirt. I'd wear this, but probably go for a slightly longer skirt. That is if I owned anything like this skirt, which I don't.

J McLaughlin Holiday 2015

As usual, blogger Silvia Cristescu, of The Stunning Look, gets it just right as far as I'm concerned. I really like this simple midnight blue sweater and cool, cropped pants with the big blingy earrings. But while I love this look, it really didn't help me solve my what to wear problem. Unless I wanted to go shopping, which I didn't.

"Midnight Blue" on The Stunning Look
Now, Kate Moss in leather pants, black blazer and sheer black top gave me pause. Not because I thought I could pull off this look in quite the same way. Ha. Excuse me while I stop to guffaw here. But because I do own black leather pants (my ubiquitous leather trousers) and a lovely black jacket. So I filed this image away.

Marie Claire
Ditto this outfit worn by Pernille Teisbaek who writes the fashion blog Look de Pernille. I own a couple of cream ruffled blouses and a black vest. So I filed this one too.

"Bows and Lace" on Look De Pernille

And this one, also from Pernille Teisbaek's blog. I do love the look of a dressy top, and ladylike shoes, with faded jeans. 

"Trendsætterne" Look De Pernille
Then I dug around in my closet and hauled out my few dressy bits, and my comfortable, more casual bits and tried to see what I felt like wearing with what. 

For our annual hockey gang Christmas get together, I wanted to be a bit festive, but not fussy. So channeling Pernille Teisbaek, and her sparkly top and faded jeans, I paired my black Helmut Lang jacket and gauzy Rag and Bone silk tank, with my Citizens of Humanity cropped jeans, and these Stuart Weitzman kitten heel pumps. Of course the jacket and tank were summer staples; I bought them both for our trip to France. But because they're black, they can also work for a winter dressy-ish occasion. I added a brooch and matching earrings that Hubby bought me waaay back in the late 80's. And Grammy Sullivan's clutch. It's seventy-plus years since my Aunt Gwyneth brought this bag back from Montreal for my grandmother.  

High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up          High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up

Then I had to decide what to wear to my Ladies Only Cocktail and Canapés Partay. I have a couple of LBDs that I tried to find enthusiasm for, unsuccessfully. Then I settled on my black leather pants. And the same black jacket and silk tank. I really love these three black pieces together. Partly because the very different textures, leather and silk with the viscose jacket, look so rich and lovely together. Partly because the stretchy jacket is so comfortable, the pants never, ever lose their shape or bag at the knees, and the tank which falls away from the mid-section allows for worry free... uh... buffet indulging... so to speak. Win, win, win.        

High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up

And when the laughter and animated conversation make the old internal furnace kick into overdrive, I can take off the jacket and still look good. In fact, I like the look of the tank with the pants alone, almost as much as with the jacket. 

          High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up

I put together a third outfit, that I haven't actually worn yet. This cream ruffled blouse and black brocade vest are years old, but I still like them with my leather pants. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up, black and white outfit

Add some silver and black earrings, a vintage brooch, and this bracelet that I was given by a former student... and I'm good to go to party number three. But we don't have a party number three to attend. Hmmm. Note to self: organize event requiring use of outfit #3. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up, black pants and white ruffled blouse

This last shot is the only one I saved from the aborted "fashion shoot" that Hubby and I tried the night of my ladies party. I've been struggling lately, in the absence of sunny days, to get good light to take blog photos. And I've been experimenting with our digital camera, a dodgy tripod, the flash, and the delayed shutter setting. So not working. So labour intensive. On Saturday night Hubby volunteered to be my photographer. And, well, he never notices whether my hair is stuck up in the front. Delete that one. Or if one pant leg is caught on the back of my shoe, or if I'm looking down momentarily and thus turning one chin into three. Delete, delete. 

He snapped this last shot when he was really getting into the act. Okay, Suz, ready? Okay, let's do another one. Yep. Yep. Cue the wind machine. Lookin' good, babe! And I erupted into giggles. You'd have to know my husband... but he is just about the last man on earth who would ever say something like "Lookin' good babe." He may be a grumpy so and so sometimes (not without reason) ... but he does make me laugh.             

High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up. Hubby takes shots

So that's me sorted for this festive party season. Not flashy, or terribly fashion forward, or particularly colourful. But black on black is always chic, in my opinion. And all the pieces fit me well, and look polished. And.... here is the important part... they don't require me to stand in four-inch heels all night, or suck in my stomach, or swelter in layers of confining spandex "foundation" garments... or worry about red wine stains. Sigh. There's something to be said after all for abandoning dressing up, for dressing down to dress up. 

Christmas is fast approaching, and I'm not ready. Still not stressed about it, though. Come Christmas Eve everything will be done. Today was tree trimming and house decorating, tomorrow I'll be baking a few sweet things and preparing my Christmas Eve tourtière. Most years we try to go skiing on Christmas Eve day or Christmas Day, depending on our schedule and the weather. This year skiing is out of the question. So on Christmas Eve, after Hubby comes home from his physiotherapy session we're going... biking. Yep. His shoulder is in good enough shape that if we don't do any off-road, bumpy stuff he'll be fine... and the weather forecast predicts it will be +14  Celsius. Imagine! 

This is a shot Hubby took from our front lawn, early on Sunday morning. We had a skiff of snow. And the usual multitude of geese on the river. I swear this picture looks like those shots in the Lord of the Rings movies where they used some computer generated thingy to create the hordes of marauding orcs, wave after wave of them. Don't you think? Still, they're a magnificent sight when they all take off. The geese, I mean, not the orcs.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Dressing Down to Dress Up, geese on the Rideau

I'll be taking a blogging break for week or so. But I'll be back by the New Year. 

So in closing, dear readers, from our family to yours, Hubby and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Linking up this week with:Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style,  #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun, All About You Link Party at Mama and More, and Christmas Fashion Party Link-Up at High Latitude Style.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

I Wish I Had A River to Skate On...

Picture this. The ten o-clock Friday morning sun is streaming through my kitchen window. I'm drinking tea, listening to CBC radio, and sitting in my favourite antique press back rocking chair which Hubby bought for me one Christmas. I hunted for just the right antique rocking chair for ages. I'm nothing if not slow in choosing these kinds of things. Partly because once the choosing is done the hunting is over. And the hunting is so satisfying. Most weekends, my friend Mary and I made the rounds of our favourite antique stores, and markets, and in the summer, the country antique fairs. We'd forage for treasures, chat with the vendors, and with each other, and then we'd have tea somewhere. Sigh. Antique hunting followed by tea and scones... is there a better way to spend a Saturday?

Anyway, back to Friday morning. You might ask, why am I sitting sipping tea at ten o'clock on this beautiful day so close to Christmas? Is my tree up? Nope. House decorated? Nope. Baking all finished? Nope. Nada. Not done. And I'm not stressing about it. We're not stressing about Christmas at all this year. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: I Wish I had  River to Skate On  Keep Calm Christmas is Coming poster
This year, Hubby and I are having a very, very low key holiday. For various reasons we won't be hosting our usual Christmas Eve family dinner, and we're not travelling to my sister's for Christmas Day. And we jettisoned the frenzied gift buying for extended family a few years ago. And we haven't made the eleven hour drive home to New Brunswick, with my little car packed to the roof with gifts and skis, worrying if we'll encounter freezing rain along the St. Lawrence at Quebec City since 2012. And we won't this year. 

Of course, we'll still have a tree. It's out in the garden shed waiting for me; Hubby has already attached the tree-stand. I heard the chain-saw this morning, so I think there were some slight alterations needed to make it fit. We'll still have a big turkey dinner on Christmas Day. And I'll still make my usual Christmas Eve tourtière. But this year, I'll be experimenting with different vegetable dishes, salads, and desserts that are more heart healthy. Since it's just for Hubby and me, I'm excited to try new things instead of worrying that they'll be an utter culinary failure. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: I Wish I had  River to Skate On  Turkey exploding in Christmas Vacation scene
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation turkey disaster scene.
We're still doing the Christmas Party thing. Hubby and I have a couple to attend together. And I have one ladies-only party. Planned by two women from the school where I taught, who were fed up with the non-Christmas-party action at work, and with husbands who groaned that they didn't want to get dressed up, it's to be a dress-up cocktail and canapés affair. Ladies only. With a tongue-in-cheek dress code. All my old buddies from work will be there. I'm still planing my outfit. I may wear one of my vintage hats. I'm excited. So's Hubby. He gets to stay home and watch the hockey game.

I really love Christmas, but it's often so stressful, isn't it? All that shopping, cooking, decorating, partying. And we always want everything to be perfect. But when I think about past Christmases, the non-perfect, near-disaster ones are the most memorable. 

Like the time when I was a kid and our tree froze sitting out in the barn, and when my stepdad brought it into the house the ends of the branches had all curled up. Or the year we had a freezing rain storm late one Christmas Eve in the 80's, and most of Ottawa lost power. Hubby's mum, who was hosting, and his cousin and aunt, who had power, played pass the turkey on Christmas morning... one drove it to the other's house, who cooked it, who brought it to the third house which ended up hosting.  

Or the time in my early twenties when I shared an old house in Ottawa's Glebe area with two friends. Neither my housemate, Elizabeth, nor I could afford to fly home for Christmas, and, both single, we decided to make our own old-fashioned Christmas. I remember we carried our Christmas tree home, for blocks and blocks down busy Bank Street, looking for all the world like we were taking it for a walk. And in our romantic Christmas idealism, we decided we would make all our own trimmings. That night we watched It's a Wonderful Life on TV, while attempting to string popcorn for garlands. Who knew that would be such a colossal pain in the you know what! Half an hour later we added butter and salt to the bowl, snapped open a couple of beer and decided to buy our garland... we were missing too much of the movie.

High Heels in the Wilderness: I Wish I had  River to Skate On  "Atta Boy Clarence" scene from It's a Wonderful Life
Final scene of It's a Wonderful Life.
But my favourite near-disaster Christmas story is the time, when I was about fourteen, that my sisters' boyfriends came visiting together late on a very snowy Christmas Eve. When they tried to drive home their car ended up in the ditch and they had to walk the four or five miles back to our house at two in the morning, wet and cold. When Mum arose early to tend to the turkey, my stepfather murmured sleepily, "Don't trip over the two boys under the tree." We had a houseful of people, the living room sofa for one and the floor for the other were the only free spots. I think my stepdad took the tractor to pull their car out of the ditch after breakfast. 

But, back to Friday morning.

So... I'm sitting in my rocking chair, sipping my second cup of tea and listening to a really smart and engaging writer talking about her latest book on CBC radio. Then the interview ends and Joni Mitchell's song "The River" comes on. And I sit, rocking in the sunlight, listening. Through my window, I can see our own river sliding by and hear the geese that are landing in front of our house. It's been so warm, with no hope of snow, or of the river freezing, for a while yet. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: I Wish I had  River to Skate On
Geese landing on the river in front of our house... this time last year.
I smile. And sip my tea. Hubby's at physio this morning; he's making really good progress with his shoulder rehab. I found a couple of interesting recipes yesterday for Christmas desserts that I'll try out later today, and a new hummus recipe that I'll make to take to our potluck dinner party on Sunday. Hubby and I went Christmas shopping earlier this week. We made a list of things we wanted for the house, and then bought them together. From us to us. My mum's gift has been wrapped, boxed and mailed. I'll get to the tree and the house decorating next week. I look at the two books that I've just picked up at the library, Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins, and Anne de Courcy's biography of Diana Mitford. Joni Mitchell finishes her song, I pour myself another cup of tea, and take my cup and Kate Atkinson's book into the sun room.  

And I think... in this moment... life is pretty darned good. 

Now if only it would get cold. And snow. And maybe we could skate on the river come Christmas morning. 

Are you stressing about the upcoming holidays? Any disastrously memorable holidays in your past? Do tell. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?

As a New Brunswicker of Irish descent, I have been known to use a little hyperbole for the sake of a good story. A story is always made better with a teensy bit of exaggeration. Is that an oxymoron, do you think? A teensy bit of exaggeration? Well, never mind. New Brunswickers, especially the Irish ones, love to tell stories. So if I do resort to hyperbole to make a story better, well, it's not my fault really. It's in my genes. 

But sometimes I just despair at the hyperbole on the internet, especially in fashion posts. Sigh. If I read one more time that some poor girl in a pair of ripped jeans and a tee is "insanely chic" ... well, I may have to resort to... sarcasm. 

And that tendency to hyperbole extends to more that just words. I mean... what's with sleeves these days? The exaggerated cuffs that totally cover the hands... what's with that? This shot was taken outside an event at Paris Fashion Week last year. I understand that fashion shows themselves are theatre, and as such present a creative idea or theme; the clothes and, often exaggerated, hair and make-up all working to create that idea. But we're talking real life here; these are street shots. Seriously folks, what do you do with those cuffs if you're going out to lunch?

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story? Exaggerated cuffs
Of course today's hyperbolic sleeves are not the first time that sartorial exaggerations have been fashionable. Not by a long shot. See? It would definitely be tricky to eat soup with these cuffs. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
And we've all heard of other examples of historic fashion hyperbole: hobble skirts, crinolines, bustles, corsets and their ilk. Not to mention the more modern trend of shoes with two inch platform soles and six inch heels. I confess I'm guilty of wearing something similar in the seventies. Along with flared jeans that dragged on the ground. Kind of like these, as a matter of fact.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?  overly long jeans

And maybe even the ones below. Although these pants look like an accident waiting to happen. At least with a floor length dress or skirt one can elegantly hitch it up in order to go up or downstairs. And speaking of elegant, look at the woman in white cropped pants in the background of this shot. Compared with her chic sandals and black coat, the outfit in the foreground just looks plain silly to me.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
Now, this outfit below really did make me laugh. Those leather pants are too bizarre.  How can that woman even take a step? And how sad for those pants; they'll be a mess by the time she gets home.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
And don't get me started on the socks with sandals thing. Okay, so maybe that trend can't be called hyperbole, strictly speaking. And maybe an attractive ankle sock with shoes and a skirt might be okay. They'd be comfortable, at least. Ah, who am I kidding? I think they look ridiculous. I haven't worn ankle socks with dresses since I was six. I know that menswear inspired fashion is big this year... but men's dress socks with platform sandals? Really? 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
I'm normally a big fan of Stella McCartney's designs. But what exactly does one do with a heavy fisherman knit, turtleneck sweater that has only one sleeve? Be honest now... do you ever get the niggling feeling that sometimes the fashion industry is having us on? Just messing with us? 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
That maybe those hand-hiding sleeves, and pooling hems, and weirdly architectural sweaters make us look a little bit silly? That maybe we're infected with "The Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome? 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
Now don't get me wrong; I'm all for people wearing whatever makes them happy. As long as it does make them happy. And isn't just capitulation to some designer's idea, or even worse, some CEO's idea, of how they should look. Or a slavish attempt to get noticed by those street-style photographers who seem to be everywhere these days. 

I know, I sound cranky don't I? But, bear with me. Since I've been working on this post, I've been thinking about fashion shows and fashion lay-outs in magazines, and the ideas or themes, or sometimes the narratives they depict.

Take this photograph for example, from a fashion layout entitled "Fashion Without Borders" in the October 19 issue of W magazine. Shot in Istanbul, the photographs are lovely. And the clothes are wonderful. There's a Dior coat in an earlier picture that I would love to own. But this image of model Julia Nobis striding across the cobblestones, skirts flying, in those red carpet slippers stuck in my head. Why, why, why did that image seem so familiar to me? Something about it... the running figure... the skirt flapping... the slippers.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
Of course. Wee Willie Winkie. That old nursery rhyme that we read as children. You know..."Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town. Upstairs and downstairs in his night gown..." And in the illustrated version we had as kids, Willie has on carpet slippers just like Julia Nobis'. I'm sure. Put a candle stick in her hand and she'd be the very picture of Willie Winkie. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Fashion Hyperbole... What's the Story?
  I get it... the narrative of that fashion layout in historic Istanbul, with the outlandish hair and the exaggerated poses and, of course, the carpet slippers is a tale of how old and new, modern and traditional, can work together. "Fashion Without Borders" ... blurring "the line between East and West, orthodox and avant-garde." Cool. 

So maybe real life fashion tells a story too. Maybe what we choose to wear tells our own narrative? And a little hyperbole just makes our story better? For instance, maybe all those older models and bloggers who love layers of bright colour and mega jewellry and bold lipstick are simply saying: "Don't put me in an old lady box! I am who I am. And I ain't afraid to show it." If so, more power to them. 

So, I concede that people who wear clothes that make me cringe, just might have a different story to tell than I do. But I also think that to avoid "The Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome, we need to make sure our fashion tells our own story, and not someone else's. 

I'm afraid I'm way too conservative fashion-wise to wear my hyperbole. But when it comes to words, I won't apologize for using it to make a good tale even better. Now let's get back to those "insanely chic," ultra long cuffs and pooling pants... for the life of me, I still can't figure out the story there.

What about you? What the heck do you think is going on with those cuffs? Any thoughts on fashion hyperbole?  Feel free to narrate, analyze, philosophize, whatever.

This week joining: #Iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed As Lamb, All About You Link Party at Mama and More, Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun, Fabulous Friday at Pocketful of Polkadots

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Crazy for Camel

I've always been crazy for camel. And no I don't mean this kind of camel. Although he's pretty cute, in a totally ugly kind of way. We met him the night we took a sunset camel ride in Broome, Australia, a few years ago. You can read about our adventure in Broome here, if you're so inclined. I patted this guy... very gingerly... and very very briefly while Hubby took my picture. Camels are notoriously bad-tempered. And no, I am not going to post that shot here because, while the look on my face might have been "priceless"according to Hubby, it's certainly not blog worthy. I know, I'm a spoil sport. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel

So as much as I like camels, as a species, it's camel the colour I'm crazy for. And always have been. Camel coats, camel sweaters, camel skirts, camel pants. I love all things camel, and have owned many over the years. And stolen... ahem, borrowed without permission... numerous camel items of apparel from the closets of my older sisters, and even my mum. I'm not sure Mum knows to this day where she misplaced her camel car coat that one week in March when I was in grade twelve. And was flying from New Brunswick to Ottawa for the first time with my friend, Wendy, to spend our March Break with her aunt. My old school coat was just not sophisticated enough for a week in the big city, I thought. Sorry about that, Mum.

I still love this iconic shot of Ali McGraw in her camel coat in the movie Love Story.

Here are a couple of shots, more recent ones, that have rekindled my camel lust this season. This Vince camel coat made me wish my brown Max Mara would wear out a teensy bit faster. I love this coat. 

High Heels in the Wilderness" Crazy for Camel. Vince camel coat

I saw this sweater and turtleneck from Jigsaw's new "A-Line" on Alyson Walsh's blog That's Not My Age back in October.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel. Jigsaw camel sweater and turtleneck

I'd never heard of Jigsaw. Not surprising, since it's a UK brand and only available on-line in Canada. Now, that's a darned shame.  I love the beautiful cut of their clothes...long, lean...lovely. Sigh. Yet another beautiful, camel coat. Okay... not quite camel, but close enough.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel. Jigsaw coat

Maybe it's something to do with my current run on brown this season, but I found myself yearning for something in camel. And when I was in Aritzia a few weeks ago, the lovely camel turtleneck sweater I passed on my way to pay for my blanket scarf, simply called out my name. I stopped and fingered the fabric, and then pulled myself away. Seriously, did I need another turtleneck? Well, no. Not really. But I'll not beat around the bush. I just really wanted that sweater.

So, I went back a few days later and bought the darned thing. And I love it. The heavy knit, which keeps its shape well. The loose, kind of fifties style neck. The square shape and the wide ribbing on the bottom. And, not to put too fine a point on it, the way it covers my butt. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel    

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel

My new camel sweater looks great with my black leather pants and black Cole Haan boots. And my mum's gold feather brooch from the sixties. Black and gold and camel.... classic. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel     

I can wear this outfit with my black Max Mara coat out for dinner with Hubby. But for a casual-ish, festive lunch or dinner with the girls, I like it even better with this old camel pea jacket. I almost gave that coat away last winter, but resurrected it instead. How clever of me, eh? 

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel     High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel

Or for a more casual, book club evening kind of look.... I can swap the leather pants for my Paige skinny jeans and the black boots for my new Paul Green ankle boots. Throw on my camel pea jacket. And my wool reversible scarf with the green and teal on one side and the animal print on the other. Yep. I like this outfit.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel     High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel

This sweater, my friends, is going to be one of those goes with everything, winter wardrobe staples, so glad I bought it kind of purchases. I can tell. 

And speaking of winter... we think it might never get here. This morning, Hubby and I hauled on our boots, and went for a tramp across the farm fields near our house. It was sunny and amazingly warm for early December. With blue, blue skies, a bit of a breeze.... and camel everywhere I looked.

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel

High Heels in the Wilderness: Crazy for Camel

I must have camel on the brain. I kept thinking...won't my new camel sweater look good with blue? Or, when we navigated the muddy track and I stopped to roll up my pant legs, I looked down and thought... won't my camel sweater look lovely with my chocolate brown leather jacket? 

Gad. I can't stop obsessing about camel.

So I guess it's fortuitous that I have a new camel sweater tucked away in my closet for days like this, when I'm positively yearning for camel. 

So where do you stand on the camel debate, dear readers? Not that it's much of a debate. I mean, who doesn't love camel?

Linking up this week with:Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style,  #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun, Friday Finds at Forage Fashion, Casual Friday at Two Thirty-Five Designs and All About You Link Party at Mama and More.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Meanwhile... Back At The Ranch... Taking Stock

"Meanwhile, back at the ranch," my mum used to say that often when we were kids. It was like she was saying, let's change up the subject. Shift conversational gears. Get back to that other story. 

So, meanwhile, back at our ranch. Let's take stock shall we? This fall has been beautiful. With wonderful weather. Gorgeous autumn colours. Warm temperatures. And lots and lots of those sunny crisp days that we all love. Yep. It sure has been a lovely fall.

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
Stonebridge Trail
 And I sure am glad that it's over. Because, dear readers, all that stuff that I told you about in my post at the end of September. About Hubby's shoulder injury, and his subsequent surgery, and my incompetence as a nurse, and my angst over that, and finally my horizontal ingress into our den... flip-flop instigated, tea-flying, rib-bruising little incident. Well, all that was just the beginning.

Let's stop here, shall we? And admire this shot of the corn fields along one of our favourite walking routes. The beautiful fall trees beyond. And the blue, blue sky. Notice those storm clouds blowing in from the east? What was it Bert said in Mary Poppins? Something about "wind's in the east?" Yep. Lots of east wind blowing around here this fall.

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
Near First Line Road, Manotick
So. Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yes. By late October, Hubby was making a good recovery. He was looking forward to his six week recall exam with the surgeon, getting his sling off, being able to drive, and finally starting his rehabilitation. On one of those beautiful, sunny, fall mornings we set off for the follow-up with the surgeon. And in the vein of taking our treats where we found them, we stopped for coffee and breakfast on the way to the appointment. Yeah. The appointment went well. The surgeon told Hubby that even if the tenuous one third of the repair did not hold, the other two thirds was solid. So the worst case scenario was that he had the potential to improve his pre-surgery mobility by 75%. Yeah, again. We'd certainly settle for that. And the best part of the day was Hubby emerging from the examination room, with his sling stuffed into his coat pocket, grinning from ear to ear. His first appointment for physiotherapy was already booked for the next day. No point dilly dallying. Maybe we'd be canoeing next summer after all. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
Hubby paddling on the Des Moines River, 1974.
That was Wednesday.

And on Friday, feeling like maybe we were on our way to getting our lives back, we set off together to shop for speakers for the television. And so we were at our local, recently opened Best Buy that morning, where it was clear that they were still setting up the store. Because otherwise, why else would they have a large end-of-aisle display unit, one of the ones designed to hold big stereos, or something large enough to require a single shelf that jutted three feet out into the aisle, at a height of only six inches off the floor... and... and... which was completely empty? We followed the clerk down the aisle, Hubby walking beside me. The clerk pointing to the next aisle where the speakers we wanted were found, as he rounded the end of the aisle taking the corner wide. I followed him and Hubby, beside me, cut the corner. And came to a dead stop when his ankles hit the empty shelf of that end-of-aisle display. Well, his feet stopped. The rest of him didn't, of course. He pitched forward. Both feet left the floor. And somehow, in the few seconds that it took him to fly through the air and hit the floor, he managed to bend his right arm, grab his right elbow with the left hand, pull it into his body, and twist himself so that he landed on his left side. Hard. On his shoulder. And he lay there for several minutes, grey in the face with shock. And anger. Complete and utter disbelief. And pain. Thank god it wasn't his right shoulder. The one which had had that complicated surgery, which had just spent six weeks in a sling... well, you know. Finally he struggled to his feet and looked at me and said, "Suz, what the hell is going on?" I knew what he meant. It was like the universe did not want him to get better.

So after a trip to the emergency room. X-rays. And a thorough examination by the physiotherapist who was already treating him for his right shoulder. We learned that he was bruised (badly), but not broken, or torn. And he had not re-injured his right shoulder. We'd lodged an immediate complaint with Best Buy and, I must say, they've been very good. From the shocked sales clerk, and the very attentive store manager, to the polite and obliging insurance adjuster, they've all been helpful. And they'll be paying for the physiotherapy. Which is good. But still. Less than a week since we had had such good news... both shoulders now were in rehab. 

And meanwhile back at the ranch. The weather stayed beautiful. And we walked. A lot. It's the only exercise Hubby can do at  the moment. He goes downright stir crazy if he can't exercise. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
Rideau Valley Conservation Trail
We explored new trails. And walked trails that we'd skied last winter. Or biked on last summer. We drove further and further afield looking for new and interesting places for our walks. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
Stoney Swamp Trail
The next week looked to be a busy one, doubling up on physio appointments, now. And on Monday, Hubby emerged from the shower, frowning. Something was not quite right. Besides his shoulders, that is. So, a trip to our family doctor later, we found out he had a hernia. Probably partially caused by issues with the heavy duty pain meds he'd been on after the shoulder surgery. And now, there'd be more surgery. Damn. Probably scheduled for February, our doctor said. And then... a month without driving or lifting. Well, we knew the drill. 

 But. Then... our lovely, young GP listened to Hubby. He does that ... which is why I think he's lovely. And between them they decided that if the surgery could be expedited... and the two rehab times run concurrently...well, wouldn't that be better emotionally for everyone? So our GP made some calls, and called in some favours, we imagine. And the surgeon's office called on Thursday. Could Hubby see him tomorrow, Friday, for a pre-op appointment? With an eye to having the surgery Monday? He could. He did. Wow. Surgery within a week of diagnosis. Might as well get all the pain over at once.

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
I hear that the nurses and doctors... and Hubby... had a bit of a chuckle the morning of the surgery. Trying to find a way to lie him on the table that did not interfere with his recent right shoulder repair, or his still severely bruised left shoulder. The anesthetist for the surgery was our former family doctor (a friend of our current family doctor) (they're both lovely, by the way), the surgeon a friend to the other two. Hubby quipped that it was too bad our current GP had not been there for the procedure... it would have been like being operated on by the "Three Amigos." Ha. We both loved that silly movie with Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short.

So meanwhile, back at the ranch. This is Hubby and me, on our wedding day. July 1989. We were married on our deck; this shot was taken by my brother-in-law on our front lawn.  The weather in the weeks and days before had been hot, hot, hot and drippingly humid. But the day of the wedding dawned sunny and a perfect twenty-two degrees Celsius. I actually wore my suit jacket all day long, and my mascara did not run down my cheeks in sweaty rivulets as I feared it might. It was pretty much a perfect day all round. Boy, a lot of water has flowed down the Rideau since then.

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
Our wedding day in July 1989. 
So. Let's continue with the autumn stock taking, shall we? All told... three months of probably the best fall weather we've had in years. One long anticipated surgery. One totally unanticipated surgery. One very, very unlucky tumble. Well, two if you count mine. Many painful days for Hubby. A few for me. Two trips to the emergency room. Two different surgeons. One wonderful physiotherapist... and too many appointments with her to count.... because we're far from finished with those. 

And let's not forget... all that walking. 

I must add that a few days after Hubby's second surgery, my mum called and said, "Susie. I've been thinking. How does Stuart get out of bed in the morning?" 

Hmmm. Good question, Mum. Can't push himself up with his right arm yet. Couldn't at the time with his left, either. Can't use his abdominal muscles. Well. It's kind of a sliding, slithering motion. And then we laughed. Ruefully. 

High Heels in the Wilderness: "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch."
Late November on the Rideau.
 So fall is pretty much over. Thank goodness. Hubby's physio on his left shoulder is finished, the bruises pretty much faded. He continues to work on the right, and will for some months. Rehab progress after shoulder surgery is notoriously slow and complex. Everything else is good. You know, I may get so that I like late November. All those wet, dreary days. The leaves gone. Darkness coming early. Good for building a fire and hunkering down. Flock after flock of Canada geese glide over our house and land on the river every evening. I can hear them honking as I sit in the den writing this post. Sipping a glass of Pinot Noir. The smell of dinner cooking wafting around me. 

Because, you know, a side effect of there being no hockey, or biking, or canoeing, or skiing for Hubby, besides all that walking, is that he's totally bored. And when he's bored. Well.... he cooks. And plans new and different things to cook, and, now that he's back driving, he also shops for all the groceries he needs for all those new dishes. 

Sigh. And I let him. I'm good like that... small smile here. Silver lining, people. Silver lining.

Have a listen to this wonderful rendition of the song "Meanwhile Back at the Ranch" played by Roger Paulsson. Excellent, late November, mellowing-out music.