Thursday, 22 February 2018

Voices in Our Head

In a recent phone call, my mum told me that when she first wakes in the morning, and is wondering if she has the desire to start her day, or the strength to get out of bed, she hears my brother's voice in her head. And he says to her, "Come on old lady. Time to get the hell up, and out of that bed." And so she does. 

I think we all hear voices in our head, don't you? The voices of special people in our lives, whose real voice we no longer hear. 

the sun just coming up, a melting river, and snow
I was up early enough to catch a shot of dawn on the river, yesterday. Me up early, a noteworthy event in our house.
My brother passed away last fall after many years of struggle with his health. Despite his long and ultimately losing battle, he never seemed defeated to us, even when his body did not have the strength to fight any more. And he never seemed to lose his wry wit. When Mum and I visited him at the hospital, she'd brush his hair off  his forehead, and chastise him for not having eaten all of his lunch. And he'd roll his eyes at me, and say something sarcastic about "the old lady." He called Mum "the old lady" for as long as I can remember. Odd as it sounds, it was a term of endearment. 

They had a very special relationship, my brother and my mum. Different from the one she has with me and my sisters. Partly because he was the oldest, her first born, and partly because he was "the boy." Mothers and sons are very different from mothers and daughters, don't you think? When she was alone with us four kids, struggling to make ends meet, despite his being very young, he was her rock. And in a weird kind of way, he still is. Even if his support is now a voice in her head. 

I hear voices in my head too. My stepfather in particular. That deep, gravelly, kind voice, wondering what kind of trouble I'm in now. As a teenager, or a young twenty-something, I'd call home, sometimes in the middle of the night. "Where was I?" he'd ask. "What was it this time?" He was never impatient, never exasperated. I might be stranded with a flat tire on the way into town to attend university classes, or stuck with a broken gas gauge and an unexpectedly empty gas tank on the side of a dark highway. I drove very old cars back then, and I had very bad luck with them. But he'd always come and get me, wherever I was, no matter how late. Years afterward when I'd moved away, I'd call home from Ottawa, and he'd answer the phone with a half chuckle in his voice, "Snooze, what are you up to now?" I still hear him say that in my head.

Hubby says he still hears his mother's voice. Calling him in for supper when he was a small boy, in the summertime, in particular, when he and his family were staying at his grandparents' cottage on Lake Dore. "Stuuuu-art, where are you?" And because he was usually out in the row boat fishing, and not ready to come in, he'd hunker down and pretend not to hear. I remember his cousin laughing about that one day a few years ago. She says she too can still hear in her head the voice of Aunt Milly, Hubby's mum, calling for him when he was out fishing. 

I hear his mum too, in my head. She was widowed for many years, and I hear her telling me the story of one man who, persistent in his amorous attentions, told her he was "holding a candle" for her, after months and months of being rebuffed. Frustrated that he could not take a hint, she said "Well, for god's sake put it out." I love that story. Milly, at five feet nothing, with a piping voice, was a force to be reckoned with. She's been gone for a long time now, but Hubby and I still miss her. 

dawn over a river, the pink light reflected in the water.
A few minutes later, yesterday morning. The light changes so quickly. 
I guess I'm waxing a bit nostalgic this morning, folks. Thinking of family members who have had such a profound effect on my life, and hearing all their voices in my head. 

That's probably because I'm off to New Brunswick tomorrow, to spend time with  my mum whose voice I am lucky enough to still be able to hear in real life. 

I'm sure we'll be doing lots of yakking when I'm there, cup of tea in hand. Ha. If it's one thing we know how to do in my family it's drink tea. And talk. 

How about you my friends? Whose voice do you still hear in your head?

Monday, 19 February 2018

Anticipation: Pining for Spring Fashion

Sigh. It's warm here in Ottawa, people. And has been for a few days. Maybe warm-ish would be more accurate, but above freezing, at any rate. With sunshine. And we're still in February. The past few days have felt like nature's balm to this winter weary soul. For those of us pining for spring, a bit of warmth and sunshine "knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care," and makes us feel new again. Okay, enough with the Macbeth hyperbole, what I'm saying is that I'm ready for spring fashions. 

So I've started my spring shopping research. Reading articles on spring trends. And looking at the runway shows for spring 2018. 

woman in all white, one in a pink coat, and one in a coral jacket and green oants
Trendy spring looks from Max Mara, Dries Van Noten, and Agona.   source
Apparently white on white is big this season. Like the Max Mara look on the left above. And what British Vogue calls "ice cream colours", soft pastels, baby blues, creamy vanillas, and raspberry pinks, like the Dries Van Noten trench coat in the middle above. Which hits on two trends: soft colour and trench coats. Apparently "trench dressing" was big on the Spring 2018 runways last fall. I guess that means the trench coat is back, and I didn't even know it had gone. Works for me, though. I'll be looking for a spring coat this year, just like I've been doing for the past three. Hopefully I'll find one this spring. Another trend that appeals to me is colour: bright, primary, Crayola crayon colours. That look from Agona, on the right, inspires me, not so much the jacket or the trousers, but the colours. The colours are so fresh. I'm just getting started with my research and, already, I'm anticipating spring in a big way. 

Today, I'm off to meet a friend for coffee, and I am eschewing my winter palette. Ditching, for today, some of the pieces of which I am right royally sick to death. Trying to channel spring in the middle of winter, and doing my best with what I have in my closet. 

woman in red sweater and jeans holding a tweed coat.
Sheesh. Try to smile, would you?
First off, I refuse to wear my black Stuart Weitzman ankle boots. I love them, but, we need a break from each other. So I'm donning my brown Paul Green boots, instead, and hoping that the coffee shop parking lot has bare pavement. The leather soles on these babies make them treacherous on ice. My skinny jeans and my black leggings are staying in the closet. I haven't worn my flared Current Elliott jeans all winter. Mostly because they look best with the Paul Green boots and... well... as I've said before on the blog, my days of risking life and limb for fashion are over. 

Now, I need some colour. A pop of white with a long-sleeved tee shirt from Aritzia. And red with my old Banjo and Matilda cardigan. I love the length of this sweater. Plus it's quite light weight and won't feel bulky under my coat. And this gauzy, cashmere scarf from Holt Renfrew with all the painterly colours (pink and red and purple and green) will help pull everything together. 

woman in red sweater and multi-coloured scarf
I'm trying to smile and squint at the same time. Loving my red sweater, though.
And I'll need to be pulled together because I'm wearing my pink Max Mara coat over my red sweater. I know, the old adage that pink never works with red is out of date, but I still think that the two need some sort of transition piece to help them get along. 

woman in pink tweed coat, scarf, and jeans
I love my flared jeans with these boots. And the scarf with my tweed coat. The backdrop, not so much
I love my Max Mara coat. And I haven't worn it much this winter what with all the -20°C temperatures, not to mention the -30° wind chill days when sane people wear down coats, and toques, and mittens... or stay at home. Ha. No toque required today, my friends, nor down coat, nor mittens. Although my leather gloves will be tucked into my bag. 

woman in pink tweed coat, scarf, and jeans

You know, I'm kind of enjoying this outfit. It feels fresh, and a bit springy, and is just what I need today. It's not high fashion. Or cutting edge. But it's comfortable, and pulled together, and polished. Well, polished enough. After all, I won't be sashaying down Rodeo Drive, or waiting to make my entrance to a New York Fashion Week venue amidst a flurry of paparazzi. Ha. I won't even be mingling among the Winterlude crowds in downtown Ottawa. I'll just be sipping coffee with a friend in a neighbourhood cafe.  And feeling great. 

woman in pink tweed coat, patterned scarf, and sunglasses

Now I must go. Hubby just yelled to me that it's supposed to start freezing rain late this afternoon. Ackk... I do not want to negotiate our backyard in my leather-soled Paul Green boots when the sidewalk is covered in ice. Ever watched that scene from the movie Bambi... when Bambi encounters ice for the first time? Yep. That'll be me, long skinny legs splayed every which way. 

I'm only getting started with my spring shopping research. I'll be back with a later post on what I've found... the good, the bad, and the ugly. And trust me... there is a lot of ugly. Ha. Then I'll need to do my spring closet inventory, and make my list. A trench coat, loose white jeans, wide legged pants... again. I can hear poor Liz sigh when she reads that. I know, Liz. I never, ever like them when I get them on. But maybe I'll get lucky this season. 

Meanwhile, I'm off to meet my friend, doing my best to quell my anticipation of spring, to stave off the pining by wearing a bit of colour. A great cup of coffee and a croissant might help too. 

Have a listen to Carly Simon sing about anticipation. I love Carly Simon. Back in high school my friend used to say that her song "You're So Vain" was about my first boyfriend. But that's another story.

I must sound desperate for winter to be over. Last week it was hats. This week, I'm forcing the season with some spring colour. What are you doing? 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

New Horizons

Okay... so... I'm a little excited this week, folks. Brenda Ray Coffee has asked me to contribute a monthly post to her blog 1010 Park Place. And today my first post Women Who Have "It" is live. You can see it here

The post is a follow-up to my discussion last week about "it girls." About how "it women" are, as Dottorressa said last week, "bien dans sa peau." And about two "it women" friends of mine who have both embarked on new adventures in their lives, both expanding their horizons in their sixties.

words. plus the phrase "do one things a day that scares you."
Lululemon bag inspiration

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Hat Dreams

When the weather is frigid, and the snow just keeps on coming, and there's at least six more weeks of winter, if we're lucky. Well, a girl has to do something to survive. Psychologically speaking.

I'm sick to death of my sweaters, most of them anyway, and my ski wear. I'm in need of some major fashion diversion, but it would be too cruel to start dreaming of spring already.  Soas I pedal my exercise bike on days when it's too cold to ski, or it's freezing rain and entirely too miserable to go out, I've been dreaming of hats. 

And perusing my Pinterest board dedicated to hats. Vintage hats, high fashion hats straight from the catwalk, edgy urban hats, dressy ladylike hats, casual berets, lovely cloches, cool fedoras. Whatever. All headgear welcome. Except for toques. No toques allowed. I see enough of those already.

woman in a 1920s style cloche

Friday, 9 February 2018

Ski Lessons in Kindness

Downhill skiing and I have always had a fraught relationship. I wanted to love it when I was young. I did love it for a brief period. Then I hated it again. Then I met Hubby and learned to ski properly, took lessons, and began to love it again, for a time. I will say that downhill skiing taught me a few lessons, on the hill and off. 

But let's go back to the beginning. When I was a kid, my older sister Carolyn received a pair of blue skis with poles for Christmas. When she outgrew them, I inherited them. I used to love to carry them up to the top of the hill at home, strap them on to my winter boots, and push off, shushing straight to the bottom. That was skiing as far as I knew.