Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rainy Day Books

It's been a long hot summer here on the Rideau. Hot, humid, and with very little rain. Lots and lots of sun, and not many days like this. To be fair this shot was taken last spring when it's supposed to rain. But still. The odd rainy, unseasonably cool day over the past few weeks would have gone down a treat with me.

Rainy day on the Rideau
A rainy day on the Rideau... perfect for reading.
That's because I've been stuck into a great book a few times this summer... unwilling, and even unable, to come unstuck. And there's nothing better than a cool, rainy day to justify doing nothing but read... all day.

I was hooked on Ian McEwan's book The Children Act from the first few pages. I probably would have read straight through the first night, but I couldn't bear to rush it. McEwan's prose is made to savour, so lovely and lucid. He's one of those writers, in my view, who makes writing look easy. When, of course, it isn't. McEwan's main character is Fiona Maye a judge in the High Court of Justice, Family Division in London.  Fiona is fifty-nine, and married without children. Her life is elegant, well-ordered, inordinately civilized. But, she is about to experience major disruption in her marriage. As well as embark on a disturbing court case which will change her forever.

Ian McEwan's The Children Act

I love how McEwan's book is so well grounded in research. He drops the reader into Fiona Maye's world. Both at home, in the elegant apartments at Gray's Inn where she lives within walking distance from her office, and at work. We learn of difficult cases on which she has had to make judgments. One reviewer thought McEwan's inclusion of the detail of Fiona's decisions, the discussion of case law, points of argument, and rationale for final decisions made the plot too clunky and was "not worth the effort." But I found the legal detail compelling, and it was this element of the book that drew me into Fiona's world. How in court she must wade through the inner workings of messy, emotionally fraught lives, and then turn all this anger and fear into a coolly compassionate and fair decision. How, as Sam Leith in Literary Review puts it, "the messiness of life" plays out against the "austerity of law." 

 High Courts of Justice in London, photo from The Mail Online
High Court of Justice in London   source
For instance, Fiona must decide whether conjoined twin boys should be surgically separated to save the life of one, against the wishes of their parents. Or in another case, which estranged parent (the devoutly religious father or the recently turned secular mother) will get to choose the educational path for their children. Or whether a seventeen year old Jehovah's Witness, who suffers from leukemia, will receive life-saving blood transfusions against his will, and the will of his parents. The case of Adam, the young man who suffers from leukemia, forms the main plot of the novel. As readers, we watch Fiona grapple with her decision. She takes the unusual step to meet and talk with Adam in his hospital room where she is charmed by his earnest innocence. We are privy to what she decides, and why. And of course we experience the stunning aftermath which has such serious consequences for Adam and for herself. I truly loved this book. As Sam Sacks says in his review in Wall Street Journal, "literature is a better place when Ian McEwan is at his best." And he's definitely at his best in The Children Act. Make sure you clear your calendar before you start this one, though, folks. It's very hard to put down.

The other book that I would recommend you NOT take on vacation is Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins. Seriously this book could ruin your beach holiday, have you holed up in your hotel room, snapping at family, friends, hapless hotel staff... anyone who interrupts your reading. Save this one for a rainy November day, by the fire, with numerous cups of tea and nowhere to go but right where you are. I think that Kate Atkinson is one of the best writers working today. And this book is hands down the best book I've read this year. 

Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins

I actually read A God in Ruins a few months ago, but I delayed writing a blog post about it because I was, quite honestly, at a loss for words. I had so many things to say about his novel, and nothing that seemed to do it justice. I finally had to say "enough already, just write the dang post, paltry though it may be."

A God in Ruins is the 'companion' novel to Atkinson's earlier work Life After Life... which I haven't read, by the way. While Life After Life deals with the many births and deaths of Ursula Todd, playing with time and chronology, and the idea that small moments changed can utterly change the course of a life, A God in Ruins is the story of Ursula's younger brother Teddy. Teddy's World War II experiences as the pilot of a Halifax bomber provide the main thrust of the plot, but Atkinson takes us from his idyllic childhood in the 1920's through to his old age. She plays with chronology in this book too, flipping back and forth between Teddy's youth, his war years, and his old age, as well as the lives of his acerbic daughter Viola, and even his grandchildren. Sounds confusing, but it's not at all. Atkinson is a master plotter, and a brilliant writer. 

 Atkinson like McEwan researches her subject extensively, and she performs what one reviewer calls that "elusive alchemy that transforms statistics and memories into immediate drama." Her characters are engaging and flawed and absolutely compelling. Even prickly Viola. I particularly like what Anne Marie Scanlon said about the book in her review in the Independent.ie. That, like Teddy in A God in Ruins, "each of us experience multiple 'lives' during our lifetime as we age and change." Because that's what I was feeling when I was back home earlier in August and what I wrote about in my post Lost in the 'Hood. I love how books and discussions of books can help us reflect on our own lives. 

a scene from Home Fires
One of the reviews I read of A God in Ruins used a shot from the television series Home Fires. Have you seen it? Based on the book Jambusters by Julie Summers about the English Women's Institute during World War II, it chronicles the lives and war efforts of the women of a small village in Cheshire. I'd watch anything with Francesca Anis and Samantha Bond in it; they're marvelous. Hubby and I both loved this series, and we're excited that there is a second season. 

 British television show Home Fires
I've read a couple of other rainy day books this summer, most notably The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. Described in this review as the antidote for those "mourning the loss of Downton Abbey," how could I resist? I'd read and loved Simonson's first book Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and had this one on order at the library for months. Set in the days leading up to World War I, and in the early years of the war, Simonson's novel is not the masterpiece that Atkinson's book is... but I still loved it. I spent one whole weekend curled up in a chair on the deck, moving once or twice to find some shade, then eventually retreating to the air conditioned sun room. By the time I was finished late on Sunday afternoon, my legs were cramped, supper would have been only a dream if not for Hubby, and a half box of kleenex was history.

And speaking of history. It's time this post was history. I have to go to the garage and pick up my car. Yesterday, post shopping trip with my friend Erica, trying to get out of the parking garage at the Rideau Centre, and caught in a traffic jam which had me sitting for fifteen minutes halfway up the very steep ramp... I ... ah... may have done some damage to my clutch. That is, if smoke and a strong smell of burning is any indication. I sat there for ten minutes and wondered who the poor soul was whose car was producing that black cloud. Ha. That would be me, folks. 

To sum up. If you haven't read these three books... you must. You really must. But be warned people. Before starting any of these, just know they will make you very unsociable, maybe even unpopular in your family. And any one of them is a vacation killer. So don't take them to the beach. 

My best advice is to buy one or all of them, or check them out of your library, and pray for rain.

How about you? Read any rainy day books this summer that you'd like to recommend?

Linking up with Saturday Share Link-up at Not Dressed as Lamb

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dipping My Toe in the Dress Over Pants Trend

Like most women who love clothes, I like to keep up with trends. I like to know what's in and what's out, and whether what's in or out will ultimately have any effect on my wardrobe. I like to look polished, pulled together, and current, but I don't usually like to go off the deep end when it comes to trends. Especially if it means spending money on something that might look dated next season. But shopping my closet for pieces I can recombine, or re-purpose to replicate a trend that I like. Dipping my toe in the water, so to speak. Maybe even wading in a little. Well, I'm all over that. 

The dress over pants (or trousers for you Brits) trend isn't new. It's been around off and on for ages. In one shape or another, one era or another, or one culture or another. I love this gold and red confection from the fifties. I can't say that I'd wear the skirt and pants... bit too dramatic for me. But those gold, kitten heel pumps would suit me just fine.

Skirt over pants in the fifties
In my research, I found articles from each of the last three years exhorting readers to dive into the dress over pants trend. I read articles that show us how to do it, why we should do it, and who else is doing it. And I found lots and lots of examples. Some of the outfits are...uh...okay. But not for me. The off the shoulder look is one trend that I haven't embraced. Not at all. That sleeveless tuxedo dress with leggings, from this blog, is more my style.   

 Image sources: here and here.

Yep, it seems this trend is everywhere, on the runways, and on the street. I love the look of that long tunic and slim pants from The Row, on the right. But since I don't own anything resembling that tunic, and I'm not going to buy one anytime soon, I'll settle for just admiring.    

Image Sources: herehere, and here

But I do own a dress that might work over slim pants. My Rag and Bone "Luna" dress, which I bought last spring, looks quite good with my Paige high-rise skinny jeans, and my flat sandals. I like this look for shopping or out for lunch, if and when the weather cools down a bit. Maybe next week? I'm meeting a young, former colleague for lunch and shopping. She's heading back to the classroom in a couple of weeks, after a year on maternity leave. A new work wardrobe is required. This is the best kind of shopping. Helping someone else spend their money. 

Rag and Bone dress over Paige high rise skinny jeans, with Michael Kors sandals, and Kate Spade bag

When I rummage in my closet, I see that my Rag and Bone dress is exactly the same shade of navy as my new Veronica Beard cropped pants. In fact these pants look like they were made to go with the dress. I love this outfit with my Munro sandals. I'd wear this out to dinner and feel fabulous. Covered, comfortable, pulled together, and a bit trendy all at the same time. 

Rag and Bone "Luna" dress over Veronica Beard "Scuba" pants with Munro sandals, Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet and earrings

And maybe in September, when the weather is cooler still, I can swap the summer sandals for these wedge espadrilles that I've had for eons. Add my Marc Jacobs bag from last year. And maybe even, on a cool evening, this pretty scarf that I bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale in July. The burgundy accessories take this outfit from summer to fall, I think. 

 Rag and Bone "Luna" dress over Veronica Beard "Scuba" pants, with Marc Jacobs bag, Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet and earrings, sandals vintage     Rag and Bone "Luna" dress over Veronica Beard "Scuba" pants, with Marc Jacobs bag, scarf from Nordstrom, Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet and earrings, sandals vintage

Sigh. There's not much that gives me more satisfaction than being able to dip my toes in a new trend without dipping into my bank account. Especially when it allows me to haul out something that I've been hanging onto, but haven't worn in ages... like my old espadrilles. Despite the size of my closet, and the fact that it's now "curated" and "capsulized"... I'm always reluctant to consign or donate shoes. I'm such a hard fit. So when I find a pair that I like, which fit, I usually wear them to death and have to throw them out eventually. But if they become dated, and are still in good shape, I just pack them away until the day when they come back in style. Or until I need a pair of shoes in just that style, or colour, or with that heel height. But we live in a small house with limited storage so.... I know that one of these days I am going to have to weed out my shoes and boots. One of these days. Just not yet. 

So that's my trendy story. How I dipped my toe in the dress over pants trend. Even waded in a bit. Not going off the deep end. Not drowning in trendiness, or buying something new just to enable me to participate in the trend. But shopping my closet instead. I bought the dress in the spring because I was looking for... a dress. Similarly the cropped pants.... which I bought because I had cropped pants, not jeans, on my list for fall. The fact that they look good together is a bonus. 

Now... I have to go and weed out my fall and winter sweaters and jackets. And see if there is anything I want to take to my friend Fiona's consignment shop tomorrow. 

How about you my friends? Do you go off the deep end when it comes to trends? Somehow I doubt it. You're all way too sensible for that. I'm sure you're in the shallow end with me... wading, not drowning. 

Apologies to poet Stevie Smith for the very bad English teacher joke. You can find the original, not misquoted, version of her famous poem here.  

         Linking up this week with these great blogs: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, and Friday Finds at Forage Fashion, Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun, Casual Friday at Two Thirty Five Designs

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why I Love Golf. Ha. And It's Not Why You Think.

This is a reprise of an old post from the summer of 2014. If you weren't reading my blog back then... I thought you might enjoy it. Hubby and I are fishing in northern New Brunswick for a few days this week. I'll be back to my regular post schedule next week. Maybe with fish stories...we'll see. 

I love golf. I started to play not long after I met my husband. He's an avid and excellent golfer and has been playing since he was a teenager. 

It all started with his teaching me to swing the club on the front lawn. Then we played our first game and I parred my first hole. Yep... I hit that darn little (one could even say minuscule) ball into the equally tiny hole in 4 strokes! Mirriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines "par" as "the number of strokes a good golfer is expected to take to finish a hole or course." Pffft, I thought dismissively... this game is easy... and fun. 

For a few moments I dreamed of playing at some of Prince Edward Island's fabled courses when we were at our rented cottage that summer.

And then later sipping afternoon tea on the veranda at Dalvay By The Sea... me in my fetching little golf skirt and sun visor.

Dalvay By the Sea
Then my husband cleared his throat and said, "Suz, you need to tee off." And with the second hole, the fun ended. For years. 

I took lessons from a good friend of my husband's who teaches golf. I learned a few tips. I had a couple of lessons from the golf pro at a local course. Then I took a series of weekly lessons offered at the RA Centre here in Ottawa. (The RA is a recreation facility and organization set up primarily for federal civil servants but open to the public. Hubby played in a hockey league there for decades. And I tried to learn to play squash there a few years ago. But that's another story.)

Anyway... every single golf coach or teacher with whom I worked said: "Great swing, Sue." Apparently I looked great; I had good form. I gripped the club properly, kept my head down, rotated all the parts that were supposed to be rotated, followed through with my swing. And couldn't hit the ball to save my life.

Oh, I had a few moments of improvement. Just enough to keep me hopeful. I could chip pretty well. That's the short shot you take to get the ball onto the green. But with the longer shots, I continually "topped" the ball. That means you don't hit it squarely, but kind of skiff the upper half and thus move it about three feet. My legs are too long, I'd cry. Then on hubby's advice, I'd adjust my hand position to try to correct this and I'd swing and dig up about six feet of turf. I could feel the vibration of that all the way down to my toes. "You don't practice enough," Hubby would say. Gawd, I'd think... you mean four hours on the golf course wasn't practice enough?

Then all of a sudden I got better. 

We had been to see the movie Bull Durham while we were on vacation in P.E.I. The next day when we were (trying) to play nine holes of golf... I said to my husband, "I'm going to take Susan Sarandon's advice. What she said in the movie to that pitcher who was psyched out about the game. She told him to stop thinking and 'breathe through [his] eyelids.'"

So I did. I just stepped up to the ball and swung and didn't think about stuff. Wowee... the ball flew through the air. Straight at the flag. I scored a 5 on that hole! And even better than that... I overheard a man and woman on the next fairway... and the man was saying to the woman..."Just do it like that lady over there." And amazingly, he gestured towards... me!

This is me during my "skillful golfer" period. Keeping my head down and putting out at Glen Afton Golf Course on P.E.I. Note that my pink visor matches my pink golf ball. 

Okay. Well that transformation lasted for about three games and then my skills disappeared as mysteriously as they had arrived. I breathed through my eyelids like there was no tomorrow... with no luck. Sigh. 

Then I started having major upper back issues. Naturally rounded shoulders, too many long hours hunched over my marking (English teacher = essays, essays, and more essays to mark) and poor positioning when I was cross-country skiing and paddling etc etc all added up to lots pain and months of physiotherapy. And golf became painful in a whole different way. 

The last morning I played we started early, the weather was quite cool, and my muscles were tight. On the first tee, I swung at the ball and felt a jab of pain through my shoulders and neck. Then I couldn't turn my head. Then I was done. I was totally done! "Maybe golf just isn't my game," I said tearfully to Hubby. 

I hate to admit I can't do something. I hate to admit defeat. But golf had defeated me. Hubby replied, "Maybe golf isn't a good game for a perfectionist with poor hand eye co-ordination." Ouch!

So I gave up on golf. That was a few years ago, now. Since then Hubby and I have both retired from teaching. Which means that we're both home... at the same time... a lot. 

Before I go on, it's important to understand one thing about my husband and me. He's a morning person: a get up and get moving, with enthusiasm, best part of the day, has fifteen things done before 7:00 A.M. kind of person. I'm not. I'm a roll out of bed, stagger around, make a cup of tea, sigh, drink another cup of tea, maybe sit and read my book for a bit, then have another cup of tea before I do anything person. Well, except when I had to get up for work; that was different. 

Which brings me to this morning. It's Friday. Hubby has a regular Friday golf game with a group of his hockey buddies. They tee off early, naturally. 

When I stagger out of bed and put the kettle on, the house is silent and still. The sun is shining. I make my tea and take my cup and my book out onto the deck and sit there in my pyjamas. I sip my tea and read my book for a half hour. Then I don my sneakers and shorts and plug my i-pod in; I'm listening to a great Peter James mystery this week. And I head out for my power walk. I feel justifiably pleased with myself, and my world. Back home I shower and wash my hair. Then I make a pot of tea and an omelet for breakfast which I eat on the deck, and read my book some more. For a few moments I just sip my tea and look at the sun glinting off the river. And breath.

I so love these mornings to myself. 

Don't get me wrong. My husband and I do all kinds of things together. We have learned to make allowances for our conflicting natural bio-rhythms. We cycle together at least twice a week, we fish and canoe, and camp, and hike, and travel together and talk politics and books and food and truly enjoy each other's company. 

But I do so love these mornings to myself. 

And that my friends is why I love golf. Not my futile efforts to swing a club and hit a tiny (yes, minuscule ball), not my fleeting moments of success at doing so, not even the cute pink sun visor. But those blissfully quiet and solitary mornings...when Hubby is out golfing... and I'm not. 

Friday morning...not golfing.

So dear readers... any surprising things that you love that we might not expect?

 ***Note: Thanks to Frances at Materfamilias Writes for the spelling of "Pfffft." She used the word in a post and I thought ... that's the perfect way to express that little expulsion of dismissive air we make when we're being...dismissive. You can read her original post here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

To Cruise... Or Not To Cruise

A while ago Hubby and I were at a party. And while he was standing with his buddies drinking beer and talking politics, or baseball, or golf, I was sitting with a group of ladies I've known for years, but usually only see at parties like this. Hockey parties. Not parties where hockey is played or watched. But parties held a few times a year where a group of up to twenty assorted couples get together, a group connected, at least initially, by the fact that the husbands play hockey together. And have for years. And years. 

So anyway, I was sitting that Saturday night, talking to Sue and Sue. Yep, there are a lot of Susans in our group. Our conversation was in part about cruises. Sue #1 had been on a Caribbean cruise last spring with three women friends and, although I had seen photos on Instagram, I hadn't spoken to her about it. She had a good time, she said. Everything was lovely. But she said there was a sameness to the daily island excursions that wore a bit thin after a while. And then we discussed the idea of cruises in general. Pros and cons. And, given that we're all getting older, whether cruising is something we might like to do when our current favourite mode of travel becomes unfeasible. Too exhausting or stressful or unmanageable. Sue's hubby and mine have known each other since they were teenagers playing junior hockey together. And they're similar in many ways including the fact that their wives both think (or know) that their husbands are not really cruise people. 

Hubby and I have never been on a real cruise. I know for a fact that I could not drag him onto one of those big, big ships with thousands of people, or even hundreds, with on-board pools and water slides, five star accommodation, and midnight buffets. Nope not a chance. And that's okay because, to be honest, I'm not interested in those anyway. Friends of ours have taken smaller, more interesting (to me anyway) cruises, to Norway and Russia, or parts of the east including China, or on rivers in Europe. But Hubby is still dead set against the idea of an extended cruise or an organized tour any longer than a few days. At least for now. And I'm okay with that. 

For now we still love to make our own itinerary, rent vehicles, and stay wherever we want for as long as we want. Usually at some point during a long trip we will book a short, organized tour. In Australia we went on a three-day "Outback Safari" that left from Alice Springs. Driven in a twenty person bus, we visited Uluru and King's Canyon, hiked, slept in permanent tent encampments, and sat around the campfire at night drinking wine and talking. It was wonderful. We met lovely people. And around the campfire, during the four hour hikes, and the long bus rides we really got to know each other. We still keep in touch with one young English couple who stayed with us in Ottawa for a few days a couple of months later when they were just finishing up their around the world trip. 

Then a few years later on our second New Zealand/Australia trip we went on a cruise. Of sorts. For three days and two nights we sailed around the Bay of Islands, in New Zealand, in the beautiful boat you see pictured below. Nine passengers, three crew, and a dog. The very antithesis of a big cruise ship. 

the Manawui, a 22 metre ketch
The Manawanui, a 22 metre ketch
We anchored at islands like the one below, where we hiked, and swam, and then were picked up in the zodiac to go back to the boat.

New Zealand's Bay of Islands
Hiking on a small island in the Bay of Islands
New Zealand's Bay of Islands
The beach where we swam after a hike. Bliss.
We kayaked, watched for dolphins, and dived for green mussels. Well some people dived. Not me. I'm not a strong enough swimmer to avoid being thrown up onto the rocks in the choppy swell. 

kayaking in New Zealand's Bay of Islands
Hubby paddling his kayak. 
One day we fished. It was kind of funny when one of the guys gently began to explain to me how to keep my rod tip up. I guess he didn't see me as a fisherman. At least until Hubby told him about the 40 inch brown trout I had caught in the Yukon. Then Hubby and I found that we each had a fish on, at the same time. And as we both reeled in, the ladies started chanting, "Sue, Sue, Sue!" They hoped I would land my fish first. So I did. Sometimes it's good to blast a stereotype out of the water, eh? Pun intended. That's Moby the dog supervising as Daniel helps Steve net his fish. 

Ecocruz in the Bay of Islands

At lunch that day, we feasted on wonderful salads, cold white wine, and freshly caught fish. Some had been made into sushi, and the rest lightly smoked, or barbequed. My first time ever eating sushi, which I only tried because Nicola convinced me I should. I loved it. And I had caught the fish.... which was pretty cool. In the picture, I'm sitting with Nicola and Steve from London, and Sally from Devon. 

lunch on board the Manawanui,

Hubby is logging some major hammock time in the shot below. Doesn't this look idyllic? That's because it was. A fabulous three days. We often talk about that trip. How we made such immediate connections with the other passengers. How when we were booking the trip Hubby had to convince the agent that we were up for it, fit enough and mobile enough despite the fact that we were in our fifties and sixties. Ha. Seems funny. Eight years later, I think I'm more up for it now than I was then. 

Relaxing on board the Manawanui
Just chilling on board the Manawanui.
But you know, as much as we loved those few days on the boat, we were happy when we docked back at Pahia. Sad to say good-bye to our new friends, but glad to be on our own again. Because we really like to chart our own course when we travel. And, as I said above, go where we want, when we want, for as long as we want. We both love to organize an itinerary: get the guide books, do our homework, then list our interests and "must see or do" things, map out our time and route. Well, you get the idea. And besides, we love the connections we make with other travellers in the quirky kinds of places we enjoy, meeting people who love doing the kinds of things we also love. So I guess we're not cruise people. For the time being. 

Now before I close I want to take you back to that hockey party. To that group of men and women whom I met because they either played hockey with my husband, or were married to someone who played hockey with him. Hockey was only the initial connection all those years ago. We're really like family now. Albeit a family who named way too many of their kids Susan. 

You see when I first started dating Hubby I think there were a couple of other women in the hockey group named Sue. Then I came along. Then John married a girl named Sue. Then Bill did the same. Then it became a joke. I remember one year standing in someone's kitchen at a party with a few of the other women trying to figure out the "Sue senority list." Which Sue came first and all that. There were, I think, five of us at that point. Then one of the guys showed up with a new girlfriend whom he introduced as Sue. "No way!" all the Sues standing in the kitchen exclaimed. The new Sue just smiled. Turned out her name was Tracey or something, and he was just pulling our collective leg. And she kindly (albeit a bit tentatively it looked, and no wonder given our reaction) played along. We always laugh about that night.

If you enjoy cruising, I hope you won't be offended when I say that Hubby and I are not cruise people. Some of my good friends take cruises every year and think I'm nuts to go canoe camping. I love them anyway. So, now it's your turn friends. Any travel anecdotes you want to share? Or other thoughts?

By the way, if you are travelling to New Zealand and think that our Bay of Islands excursion would suit you, here's the link.

Linking with Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner and Saturday Share Link-Up at Not Dressed as Lamb

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Old Blogger Approved

Have you noticed that for a while, in internet-land, fashion blog post titles which read something like "Six Blogger Approved Ways to Wear Culottes" or "Blogger Approved Denim" were ubiquitous? Well, trust me, they were. Please note the use of the past tense here, and I'll explain a bit later. 

For now, let's focus on this pair of cropped pants which I bought at Nordstrom a week or so ago. Unfortunately they weren't part of the Anniversary Sale... but they were on my list for fall. And I love them. So they came home with me. Yep. These Veronica Beard navy, cropped "scuba" pants are definitely "blogger approved." At least by this blogger. Over the hill, and well past my sell-by date though I may be, I still love (dare I say obsess over) a great pair of cropped pants. I love the look of a polished cropped pant. They suit my body-type and my style preferences. And these pants in particular are stretchy and really comfortable, with edgy seaming down the back. And being navy they go with everything in my minimal closet. All of my tops, and most of my shoes and sandals.

I tried them with an Equipment silk shirt, a coral cami and my Munro sandals. This look is more office casual, than ladies who lunch. But, when the weather finally cools, a denim jacket or my khaki suede Twiggy biker jacket would toughen this outfit up a bit. 

Veronica Beard cropped pants, Equipment silk shirt, Munro sandals

Then I swapped the Equipment shirt for my Tory Burch tunic from last year. I like this look better. I'm kind partial to the coral cami under the blue and white tunic.

Veronica Beard cropped pants, Tory Burch tunic, Munro sandals

But the look below is more likely what I would reach for if I were just popping into town to return my library books or to buy a bottle of wine for dinner. I swapped out the coral cami for a white one and traded the Munro sandals for my flat Michael Kors.

Veronica Beard cropped pants, Tory Burch tunic, Michael Kors sandals, Mackage bag

If I were heading out for some shopping on a very hot day.... hitting the sales for sheets and towels and other exciting household stuff... in which case I would be in and out of the air conditioned car and in and out of air conditioned buildings... I'd need to be cool when outside... hence bare arms.... and able to cover up a bit when inside buildings where the AC is on overdrive... hence the light sweater. And I'd need to carry a bag big enough to hold my glasses, my list, and the book I'm currently reading. Since one of the newly discovered (since retirement) joys of shopping by myself.... is stopping for coffee and a treat and reading my book while I indulge. Sigh. What's the hurry, eh?

So last week on just such a very hot day, I wore my new Veronica Beard pants, with my sleeveless Equipment gingham shirt, and my flat MK sandals. And tossed this Brooks Brothers sweater around my shoulders in case of AC chill. I could always stuff the sweater in my old straw MK bag with my book if necessary. 

Veronica Beard cropped pants, Equipment sleevless shirt, Brooks Brothers sweater, Michael Kors bag, Michael Kors sandals

And if I were going to be out in the sun too much. And if the coiffure... the OMG I can't wait for my hair appointment coming up in a few days swirl of curly fringe... became too much to handle... well... I could always take your advice and throw on a hat. Or not. I must say, as much as I love my vintage hats, I'm not much of a hat person generally. 

 Veronica Beard cropped pants, Equipment sleevless shirt, Michael Kors sandals, Panama hat from some store in Key West

So that's what I'm doing with one of my purchases from my day at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale... when I bought stuff that wasn't on sale. Ha. Just my luck, eh? But, I'm seriously in love with these pants. They are light enough to wear now, and I will get a ton of wear out of them this fall. With a white tee and my sneakers. Or my loafers and the matching Veronica Beard jacket that I also bought. Maybe even under my navy Rag and Bone dress. I'm kind of thinking of trying the dress over pants trend. And cropped pants are always on trend, aren't they? So very Jackie O. on holiday in Capri, at least according to Jill over at Everything Just So . Not that I look anything like Jackie O. in mine. 

Yep, these pants are definitely "blogger approved." I had a chuckle when I thought of that title earlier in the week. So very au courant in blogger-land. Ha. At least it was last week. But this morning when I scrolled through my Bloglovin' feed... I couldn't find one blog which used that phrase. Not one. So I clicked on the two blogs which I know use it... or used to use it. Nope. Not there either. Seems that particular ubiquitous line has run its course. Yesterday's cute phrase. Here there and everywhere one week, long gone the next. And I have missed the boat with my tongue-in-cheek title. 

That must make me... well... a bit behind the times. Maybe even old... do you think? 

Nah. I'm not buying that. I know that none of these outfits are necessarily fashion-forward. Or particularly edgy. But they are casual, comfortable, and polished enough for my purposes. Which given that our looong stretch of humid hot weather is making me very cranky, is good enough. 

I may not be sweating about the fashion police this week. But old? Nope. I'm not ready to slip into my baggy pants and pastels just yet folks. 


Any items in your closet that are "blogger approved" or "blog reader approved?" We're dying to know. 

Linking up this week with these great blogs: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, and Friday Finds at Forage FashionAgeless Style Link-up at Funky Forty

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why the Internet Makes Me Crazy.

You know, some days I just want to smack my computer. Or something. Not someone... because I know that's wrong.

Like the other day, I checked out my Instagram account while I was pedaling my exercise bike. I should probably say here that, while I like social media, managing several different accounts means that it can eat up my day if I let it. So my time on the exercise bike is the time I've set aside to pay attention to my Instagram (and Pinterest and Twitter) account. Anyway, I saw that I had several new followers. Okay, that's good isn't it? But when I checked out my new followers, I was surprised that they had chosen to follow me. Not sure what a shirtless, twenty-something male, for example, would find interesting in my posts. Me... a retired, middle-aged, book addict posting about walks in Algonquin Park, bike rides on the Rideau... or my new skinny jeans. I didn't follow back because, well, I'm not interested in the photos this boy posts. And then the next day I saw that I'd been "unfollowed" by the same four followers I'd gained the day before. Presumably because I didn't follow them back. Ah well... easy come, easy go. But seriously, what were they thinking to begin with? Who has time for this nonsense? I mean, I follow those accounts which interest me, and expect that others will do the same. Sheesh... sometimes the antics on the internet... who follows whom, and how many followers does whomever have ... just make me laugh. Or roll my eyes. Or both.

Rolling my eyes on Paris.
Big eye rolls (and too many chins) in Paris last year. 
And don't get me started on those incredibly silly, hyperbolic, and repetitive headlines on articles I see shared on Facebook. Headlines that go something like ..."So and so did something and when I saw what happened I... cried/ was amazed / was stunned / was blown away"... pick a hyperbolic description of your choice.  Those bug me. Well, any click-bait headline bugs me, actually. They're just ploys to get you to the site so you can mistakenly click on an ad because you can't figure out which of the sixteen arrows on the page is supposed to trigger the next bit of content. Speaking hypothetically, of course. Ha.  

And then there are those days when you see that someone somewhere is saying something incredibly stupid, or unaccountably mean, and putting it out there in the ether. And I want to say... "Really? You just said that?" But I usually don't because I really don't want to prolong a discussion in which brains and restraint are clearly not a requirement. 

Until today. I was reading my Bloglovin' feed, and saw this title: There's a Retiree in My Shopping Cart on the popular blog Man Repeller. I usually like this blog. It has cutting-edge fashion, witty and thoughtful content articles, interesting guest post writers. And the quality of the writing is very good. And even though I know I am definitely NOT in their target demographic, I read it quite frequently. But today, this particular article severely pissed me off.... if you'll excuse my lapse into profanity. In the article the writer pushes her shopping cart through a store, "with the shuffling gait of a grandmother" because in real life she's suffering from "stress-induced disc flare-up." She describes her unaccountable desire to dress like a fictional "retiree" she calls Dorothy. She is drawn to baggy pants and pastels and slippers. She says "I think I want to dress like I'm retired... like I'm up for a card game at any time. Like the only thing on my calendar this week is my granddaughter's soccer game...." And my first thought when I read this was..."Are you kidding me?" 

And so I broke my own rule and I commented. I said I was insulted by the depiction of "retirees" in the article and thought the site was usually more open-minded. Now, I should say that the writer seems like a smart girl and, to her credit, she responded apologetically to my comment, saying she had not meant to offend; she meant to convey that she finds the way her "grandparents and their friends" "quite wisely prioritize comfort" to be "inspiring." Uh, okay. But her image of retirees sitting around in their slippers and pastel baggy pants playing cards still rankles. I wonder... can we call this "age shaming" do you think? Okay, so I'm joking with that last comment. But did this writer and the "MR Team" not think that anyone over 50 might possibly be reading this blog? I guess not. Is this what generation Y or Z or Millennials or whatever thinks will happen when they retire? Sure sounds like it. 

Ah well. Not sure why I'm getting in a snit over the internet this week. It's just that every once in a while I find the whole ultra-slavishly trendy, hyperbolically emotional tone a bit wearing. I mean, who are those people whose comments on blogs or news sites are so ardently adoring or so vitriolic? What are they thinking? Who writes those click bait headlines? Or those over the top fashion blog titles? Can a pair of cutoffs actually be "insanely chic?" Why isn't it sufficient to say they are "chic?" Can we not like a pair of shoes? Must we be "obsessed" with them?  Must so many people jump to so very many conclusions... like the article which so obviously got my dander up? 

Sigh. Sometimes the internet just makes me crazy. And I have to let it out. I feel much better now. 

Writing that line about being in a snit took me back a few years. To the Animated Film Festival we used to run at my old high school. And made me think about this award winning short film The Big Snit from the Canadian National Film Board. A perennial favourite with the kids. We brought it back year after year. It's seriously weird... and brilliant. And only 8 minutes long. Have a look.

So, I'm going to go now. And don my slippers and baggy pants, and get the daiquiris ready for when Dorothy and the "girls" arrive for canasta. What the heck is canasta anyway? 

How about you... my wise and wonderfully sane readers... does the internet make you crazy every now and then?

Linking up with Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner  and Saturday Share Link-Up at Not Dressed As Lamb