Monday, 30 January 2017

Travel Packing Part II ... Three Seasons in a Bag

Finally, finally... I've finished planning what to pack for our South America trip. I think. At least I'm pretty sure that I'm finished. As I said in my last post, this will be a complex trip. Six weeks on the road. Several different modes of transport: planes, trains, buses, and automobiles. Lots of activities, a few tours, some hiking, and walking, walking, walking. Two countries, three different climates. And according to my way of thinking, outfits suitable for three seasons. 

Research is done, bookings are done... now for the packing

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Anger Management... Had a Good Rant Lately?

Seems we're all a little bit angry these days. At someone. Or something. And many of us are ranters. I never used to be much of a ranter. Sure I whined and complained sometimes. Vented even. But ranting, not so much.

We seem to think that expressing our anger, venting, or even ranting, is good. That it helps us to let off steam, avoid blowing our tops, so to speak. But psychologists would disagree. According to several articles I read in Psychology Today, venting or ranting can actually make you more angry. Especially if it's reinforced by your audience. If your rant doesn't change the situation that has made you angry, or prevent it happening again, then it's only minimally useful. We all want to be heard; that's just human nature. But Brad Waters says in this article that ranting can "feel intoxicating, when in fact it's usually toxic." For ourselves and those around us.

Cute donkey and me, near Verdun, France, 2015
Be careful that ranting doesn't make you look like an ass. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Planning a Capsule Travel Wardrobe

I have kicked into full blown planning mode this week. Our trip to South America looms. And I am researching climate details and sketching out lists of activities with an eye to planning my trip wardrobe. We haven't been on an adventure this extensive for years. Three and a half weeks in Argentina, and two and a half weeks in Peru. We'll be in big cities some of the time, tiny villages some of the time, and everything in between the rest of the time. We'll visit bustling Buenos Aires. See Machu Picchu and Lake Titikaka. Hike in Patagonia, surrounded by mountains and glaciers. And drive a scenic, narrow, and often unpaved section of the famous Ruta 40, in northern Salta Province. So I will need a flexible and... ah... diverse wardrobe. Ha. You think?

My pile of trip journals and little books of lists.
Checking out my lists from previous trips, and perusing old photos to see what I actually wore.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

We All Need a Good Role Model

One sunny morning, as I was driving down the highway headed to the mall, I listened to an interview, on CBC radio, with Chrystia Freeland, then Minister of International Trade in the Canadian government. She was explaining, clearly and in a way I could perfectly understand, the Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which had taken years to negotiate and which had finally and very recently been signed. And I thought, what a well spoken, impressive, confident young woman she seemed. Especially when the interviewer asked her about the possibility that the trade deal might only serve to enrich the already rich, the infamous 1% in our society... "Well, as you know that has long been an area of interest of mine," she said. "In fact I wrote a book on it," she chuckled. Not a brash or snide chuckle of bravado, more of a rueful chuckle, as if she were embarrassed that she'd been called upon to toot her own horn. And of course she knows perfectly well what she's talking about in this area. She's written two well respected books, the latest one called Plutocrats: Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. My intention is not to go into the trade deal specifics here, or even to discuss politics. I just want to say that right then, at that moment, I kind of wished that I was fifteen again. Because, if I were fifteen again, then I could say that when I grow up I want to be just like Chrystia Freeland.

Chrystia Freeland at her swearing in as Foreign Affairs Minister at Rideau Hall
Freeland, left, at the swearing in ceremony last week at Rideau Hall. source

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Of Underwear and Outerwear

 I've been shopping for underwear lately. No... not that kind of underwear. Sporty underwear. Base layers, bottoms and tops, to wear under pants and under a fleece. Light but warm layers suitable for skiing and cool weather hiking. And for travelling. I always bring ski underwear bottoms when we travel. No matter the season. Even when we're not hiking or skiing. They are perfect for wearing under jeans on a cool rainy day, and for lounging around overly air conditioned hotel rooms, even in summer. Even in France. But more on that later.

Since we are leaving for South America in two weeks and five days... but who's counting?... I've been making lists and stocking up on what I will need to pack. I bought hiking boots and a new light toque before Christmas.

Adrienne Vittadini sweater, scarf Norsdtrom, toque Bula, earrings from Magpie Jewellry
Wearing my new toque with this old Adrienne Vittadini sweater and my navy scarf

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Reality Bites... At 60

Have you ever noticed that the passage of time isn't smooth? That days, weeks, months... even years... can unfold but time seems to be standing still? We seem to be standing still? And then all of a sudden, we lurch forward. We're catapulted from one clearly discernible chunk of time into another. At least that's how it seems to me.

I love that word "chunk." I used to use it a lot in teaching, when planning courses with my department, "chunking" up the weeks of a semester, into units, and the units into lessons. It had to be done, no matter how arbitrary it seemed... how arbitrary it was, actually... because otherwise you might get to May and realize with a sinking feeling that you'd only covered one element of the course and the final exam was looming. Time, the days and the weeks, can get away on you when you're talking to kids, and exploring exciting new activities with them. I used to think there was no better lesson I could teach a student-teacher than how to "chunk up" a course.

I look at my life like that too. In chunks of time. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Ethical Shopping Report Card

I've been thinking about my wardrobe a lot lately. Now, now... don't laugh. I do have periods, brief though they may be, when I am NOT thinking about clothes. But, January is not one of those times. 

In January, I usually start thinking about which of my fall and winter pieces I'm already tired of, and how I might change them up without shopping for something new. Or which pieces in my closet haven't been out and about enough, and how I might wear them. But this year is a bit different.

This year, I've been thinking about how I've measured up in my quest to join the "slow fashion" movement, and whether I make the grade as an "ethical shopper." Or not. So, since I do not have to return to school next week, like most of my friends and former colleagues, with the spectre of exams and report cards looming in the next few weeks... I thought I'd do my own form of evaluation, of my wardrobe and my clothing buying habits. And prepare a kind of ethical shopping report card. 

Monday, 2 January 2017

2016 Book Roundup... Looking Backward and Forward

Hellooooo. Happy New Year. Long time no see. I've been on a bit of an unscheduled blog break. I intended to take a week off, but it morphed into two. 

In the meantime we've been doing a lot of this. Rising before dawn to get on the road early. The drive to New Brunswick usually takes us around 11 hours.... even with this lovely new highway through the province. That's not all driving time, of course. There's stopping for egg mcmuffin time, and stopping for gas and tea time, and then the "nature breaks" as they call them in the Tour de France. 

The highway home from Fredericton. Somewhere around Perth-Andover, New Brunswick
Outside of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick. Going to be beautiful when the sun comes up.