Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Plan, Pack, Unpack, Repeat

Only one week until Elizabeth and I fly off for our long hoped for, and finally happening, trip to England. I say "long hoped for" because we wanted to make this trip, hoped to make this trip, years and years ago, back in the nineties. But something always got in the way. And now, just when it finally is about to happen... I seem to be having difficulty getting psyched up. I'm having particular difficulty getting psyched up to plan my packing. You know, making lists of what outfits I might wear, and what pieces I might pack. And that, my friends is not like me at all.

Maybe it's the heat. We're having a steamy, humid, uncomfortably hot spell just now. Temperatures in the thirties, with humidex readings of 40° C. Maybe I'm feeling a bit drained after an emotional spring and summer. Or maybe I'm just suffering from planning, packing, and unpacking fatigue. 

misty sunrise, and a river
Steamy, foggy dawn on the Rideau yesterday

Friday, 22 September 2017

Protecting Your Fashion Investment

One of my long-time fashion philosophies is that I buy what I love. I don't mind spending extra for something perfect, something that makes me sigh when I put it on, as I said about this burgundy sweater in a post recently. But spending more on a special item means that I don't buy many pieces, and when I do find something I love, I love it for a very long time. And that philosophy, my friends, requires that I take good care of my clothes. I think of it as protecting my investment. 

Triptych of woman in burgundy sweater, sitting on a bench
My new Akris sweater is definitely an investment piece

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Family Ties

I've been absent from the blogosphere for over a week now, spending time with family, and old friends, back home. And I've been thinking a lot about family. About my family. About my brother Terry, of course, who died recently. About his wife and daughters. About my mum. And my sisters and step-brother, as we all gathered back in Fredericton for Terry's funeral. 

And I've been thinking what an odd phenomenon the whole concept of family is. And about what it means to me. What it literally means... as in how I would even begin to define that word.  

You see, I come from the original blended family. Back in the day, there were no other kids I knew whose mother had a different surname, who had a step-brother, and a grandmother who wasn't really their grandmother, or cousins who weren't actually cousins. I just knew who I knew, and loved who I loved. So what did blood or surname really matter, anyway?

Friday, 8 September 2017

This Was My Brother

                                                                   This Was My Brother by Mona Gould
Terrence Malcolm Burpee  1953,  Age 6

This was my brother
At Dieppe
Quietly a hero
Who gave his life
Like a gift,
Withholding nothing,
His youth...his love...
His enjoyment of being alive...
His future, like a book
With half the pages still uncut-

This was my brother
At Dieppe
The one who built me a doll house–
When I was seven,
Complete to the last small picture frame,
Nothing forgotten.

He was awfully good at fixing things,

At stepping into the breach when he was needed.
That's what he did at Dieppe;
He was needed.
And even Death must have been a little shamed
At his eagerness.

I first read Mona Gould's lovely poem "This Was My Brother" when I was a young teacher. I came across it in an anthology, and discussed it with my class on Remembrance Day that year. I was teaching adults, and there were a couple of women in the group who were old enough to remember World War II. Seems funny now to think of my twenty-something self in my navy skirt suit and heels, standing in front of a class, teaching women some of whom were old enough to be my mother. We talked of the people the students knew who had been affected by the war. Family who had died in concentration camps, fathers and uncles killed in battle. One student explained how she had quit school to volunteer when the war started. I remember we discussed how moments of very personal loss seem to resonate more than pictures of devastation and horrifying statistics.

And so today, when the news is filled with pictures of the devastation wrought by hurricanes in the Caribbean, I can only focus on my own very personal loss. My big brother who fought his many illnesses and health challenges so bravely for so many years passed away this morning. 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Shifting Into Fall

It's September and here in Ottawa we are shifting into fall. Big time. With dropping temperatures, cool nights, and rainy, windy days. And I have been shifting gears as well. Not like in the old days of lesson prepping and shopping for back to school outfits. More like shopping for not going back to school outfits. And that, my friends, is way more fun. 

Friday, 1 September 2017

For Serious Book Aversion Sufferers

This post is for serious book aversion sufferers. Like me. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suffering from a serious aversion to books. But from an aversion to serious books, if you follow me. I simply can't settle into reading anything that mires me in apparently insoluble problems. Or awakens feelings and fears that I thought long buried. 

Take, for instance, this latest book we read for my book club.