About Me


Welcome to High Heels in the Wilderness. 

I started writing this blog in 2014, about a year after I retired from teaching, partly because I taught creative writing for many years, and I missed the story telling and creative to-ing and fro-ing involved in teaching writing to teenagers. Partly because I need an outlet to talk about whatever inspires me. And partly to put into practice what I taught kids over the years... namely to write what they cared about, and not to be afraid to put their work "out there." 

I taught high school English for many years in Ottawa, Ontario. But I'm originally from "down-east." My passions are books, fashion, travel, and staying fit enough to keep up with my hockey- playing, skiing, canoeing husband. And story-telling, of course.

For the rest of my story you might want to read the post below.


Streamside Chic: How High Heels and Wilderness Came Together

I came across this picture of Karlie Kloss in a Saint Laurent dress and hip waders in Vogue a while ago. She's the very epitome of streamside chic. I'm sure this outfit is what my teaching colleagues imagined I'd be wearing whenever I'd mention at work that Hubby and I had been fishing on the weekend. Well, it's what they imagined until they got to know me better. Until they discovered what the other half of my life was like. 

streamside chic in Vogue December 2014
Vogue December 2014
You see, I've always been equal parts city and country, part girly-girl and part tomboy. Fifty percent fashion and fifty percent fishing, or something. Ever since I was a kid. I remember the summer I was ten, my older brother Terry and another boy in the neighbourhood worked all summer for my grandfather who owned a well-drilling company. Well-drilling is kind of the family business. My mum's father and all my uncles and now my brother... all well-drillers. They loaded and unloaded pipe, and scraped and painted every bit of machinery Grampy owned. I helped. Seriously, I got up every morning and went to "work" with Terry and Albert. I loved it. According to my mum, I'd come home in the evening covered in grease and paint and insist I had to drink my tea from a china cup and saucer. You see, I was part grease monkey, part lah-di-dah lady.

I've never minded getting dirty. And I've always fished. First with my brother Terry; he's nine years older than me, and when I was little, he'd take me trout fishing. He even bought me my own fishing rod when I was nine. Later I fished with Terry's father-in-law who was an avid sportsman. And then with my step-father and step-brother. 

And then I met my husband. There probably aren't words to describe how much Hubby loves fishing. We met in the staff room of the high school where he taught Phys. Ed. and where I was supply teaching. I was wearing high heels and a navy skirt suit. I know I probably looked as if I thought stuff like camping and fishing was beyond the pale. So imagine his surprise when he discovered that I liked fishing too. I admit that I knew nothing about camping and canoeing when we met. But I did know fishing. And the other stuff... well, I was game to try.

This is me, below, in early spring 1985. Hubby and I had started dating a few months before. We decided to go trout fishing on the Easter weekend. The weather in Ottawa had been beautiful and warm for weeks; we had no idea that there would be so much snow in the hills overlooking Brudenell Creek in the Ottawa Valley. I'm wearing Hubby's rain gear here. You could call this outfit an early example of colour blocking, I think. No fish to be had that day. Still, I look like I'm having a good time. Must have been love, eh?

Fishing in the snow. Brudenell Creek 1986. Streamside chic.


This is me in 1987. Hubby and I were fishing for brook trout in a beaver dam. I think I look quite fetching in my hip waders. Actually they were Hubby's boots. He bought me my own for Christmas a few years later. I remember that I couldn't wait to drop that bombshell at the lunch table at work. "What did your husband get you for Christmas?" Yep. Hip waders. I definitely won the prize that year for most surprising gift.


Beaver Dam fishing 1980's. Streamside chic.

Fishing isn't all sunshine and roses. There have been days when it's rained. Hard. And I've been soaked. And days when the bugs were biting, but the fish weren't. Yep, there have definitely been days like that.

But then there have been those once in a lifetime days. This is the big, big fish that I caught in the Yukon in 2006. Oh. My. God. That was hard to reel in. The guide kept yelling at me..."Keep your rod tip up! Keep your rod tip up!" And I kept gritting my teeth and replying..."I'm trying. I'm trying." We'd been fishing since 6:30 in the morning, and I was pooped. And I couldn't feel my arms anymore. The picture says it all, actually. By the way...this was a catch and release lake. And the guy holding the fish is not Hubby; that's Doug, our guide.


My big fish. Yukon 2006 Streamside chic.


Most fishing days are not as fraught as that day in the Yukon. I much prefer a quiet lake in Algonquin Park, just me and Hubby, our Kevlar canoe, and a nice cup of tea. This is a shot of an early morning fish on Booth Lake in Algonquin Park in 2010. In order to get me out of my sleeping bag and into the canoe at a time that Hubby considers reasonable and I consider the crack of dawn, he uses bribery. Fresh muffins and a thermos of tea. And the promise that I can read my book once the trolling lines are set. I mean I do love fishing. Just not as much as Hubby loves it. 

Lolling and fishing and sipping tea. Booth Lake 2010. Streamside chic.

So you see, fishing and camping, and even well-drilling, is the other half of my life. The "wilderness" part, not the "high heels" part. And that's where the name of my blog originated. One half of me loves clothes and make-up and obsesses over my hair and the other half just wants to get down and dirty, so to speak. You might say that one half of me lives at the mall... and the other half in the bush. 

I started thinking about writing this post when I saw that shot of Karlie Kloss in Vogue. And I began to think I should explain to readers of my blog where the title High Heels in the Wilderness originated. So now you know. 

The shot below was taken on the Bonnechere River. One hot, hot July day in 2011. This is me doing my impression of Katharine Hepburn in African Queen. 

Every fishing fashionista need a parasol, don't you think? 

It's the very epitome of streamside chic.


Katharine Hepburn on the Bonnechere. Streamside chic.



6 comments:

  1. I can't believe all of the visits here and I am just now reading your about page...sorry. You know I think you are terrific . Hugs!

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  2. Sharon Howland HamiltonNovember 13, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    Hello Susan from a fellow Keswick Ridge student. Elizabeth Allen sent me your link.Enjoying your writing. Re-connecting with school friends is special isn't it? Supie Burpie...

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    1. Hi Sharon... fellow KRRHS-er, FHS-er, NB-er. Re-connecting with old friends is special, you're right. Elizabeth and I had dinner this fall when I was home and we could have talked all night. It was so great to see her after ...well... too many years to count. Love that she gave you the link to my blog! Welcome. Glad you like it.

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  3. Hello Sue - I think I saw you at Panera Break on Hunt Club a couple of days ago ... I wanted to say "hello" but, a) I wasn't 100% sure it was you and b) I was a bit star-struck :-)

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    1. Hi Lia... That wasn't me you saw. But I just Googled the place because I wasn't familiar with it...and it looks like a great place for a coffee:) If you ever do see me...please do stop and say hello!

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    2. Must have been your doppelgänger :-) Panera Bread is a great place for lunch or a light supper - good, healthy food (and amazing pastries - which I try hard to avoid). You're probably off on your fabulous South American adventure, but here's a suggestion for a future post: I really like that you buy fewer clothes but tend toward investment pieces, and I'd like to hear about how you care for your clothes/shoes to keep them looking good season after season. I find expensive sweaters still pill and I can't seem to get more than one summer out of summer shoes, no matter how much I've paid for them. Could use your help! With thanks. Lianne MacGregor

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All comments, ideas, commiserations, questions, complaints... are most welcome.