Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Ici On Parle Français

Bonjour, mes amis. Hello from sunny Quebec. Hubby and I are spending a quiet week at a resort in the Laurentians. Not the glitzy, newer than new, kind of resort. L'Auberge du Lac Morency was originally built in the 1930s, and although the log lodge has been renovated, it still feels vintage. The condos retain that flavour as well, lots of wood beams, and floors. Kind of homey, and not too startlingly modern. We don't generally do "startlingly modern" at home or away. So, Lac Morency is our kind of place.  

An old "Ski the Laurentians" poster
Vintage "Ski the Laurentians" poster

Friday, 26 January 2018

Old Friends and New

Psychologists agree, the secret to healthy aging is maintaining strong social contacts. Making new friends, and keeping the old. Same with our wardrobe, don't you think?

A healthy, workable wardrobe means that we acquire a few new pieces each season and the rest is comprised of wearable, older pieces which we still love. And, I might add, which still fit, and are in good condition. We welcome the new, and take good care of the old. 

woman in black leggings, charcoal sweater, checkered tee and burgundy scarf
Smile, smile, big smile.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Our Curated Lives

I've been thinking about social media for the past day or so. About the carefully curated persona we present to the world through Facebook or Instagram. I mean "curated" like I curate my closet, in the sense that the images and details are "chosen, organized and presented" very deliberately, to achieve a certain end. Some social media users get slammed for over-curating their content, for presenting only those pictures which depict their lives as perfect when, of course, they aren't perfect at all. On the other hand social media users are often criticised for not being selective enough, for posting overly personal moments, and events, that should be kept private. Think of all the future fifty year-olds who are going to regret those high school party shots shared on Facebook. 

So where should we draw the line, do you think, on what we share and what we keep private? To answer my own question, I guess our own need for privacy and our own level of comfort in talking about ourselves will dictate where we draw that line. As well as our sense of good taste, and maybe even our knowledge that whatever we say on-line is very difficult to take back or erase. We are the curators of our own public image. Whether that image is shared with a few friends and family, or made public on the world wide web.

And I've been thinking that despite the fact that social media is relatively new, the idea of choosing what we share with the world is not. Haven't we always chosen what we share of ourselves and our lives with others? Haven't our lives always been "curated?" Whether it's the photos we have in our wedding album, the details on our work resumé, or the difference between what we tell our co-workers about our vacation versus what we tell our best friend. 

woman and man with their arms about each other, smiling.
My cousin Mark and me after my brother Terry's funeral in September. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

When Inspiration Gets Bossy

When I was younger, a lot younger, way back in high school, I used to lie in bed before it was time to get up in the morning and dream of a perfect outfit for the day. I'd close my eyes and conjure up what I felt like that morning, who I wanted to be that day, and what outfit I'd need to wear to achieve that persona. Of course, the problem was that I frequently didn't own the items I needed to become my perfect self that day. 

Still, I'd get as close as I could with what was on offer in my closet. Once conceived, the picture in my head of my best self drove me on; nothing else would do; even a pale imitation was better than abandoning the idea altogether. Sometimes, if I was very lucky, I'd make a successful foray into the closets of my older sisters. A few times I even absconded with items of my mother's. Inspiration can be downright bossy, you know. A bit of a control freak, even. 

three models in long coats
 On the left two Max Mara coats, Fall and Winter 2017 from On the right Asos coat from Lolariostyle on IG.
Years later, at almost sixty-two, I'm still a bit like that. Still dreaming of outfits; still unable to get them out of my head once they've lodged there. Still sometimes unable to measure up to the often tyrannical dictates of inspiration. When I was a kid, I had only myself and my imagination to blame. Now... well... I blame Pinterest. At least partly. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

When Do Two Become One?

I've been reading an amazing book this week. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Strout is a beautiful writer, so skilful with words and images. Her work puts me in mind of Alice Munro, and of another Canadian writer, David Adams Richards. I love how all three of these writers make me feel as if I'm crawling right inside the lives of their characters. Characters who are not obvious heroes, who are not necessarily beautiful or exciting, but who are living ordinary, often difficult, lives with dignity and honour. 

Yesterday, I plunked myself down amidst the muddle and mess of our renovations to have a cup of tea and a short read. I was struck by a scene in Olive Kitteridge where Olive's son, Christopher, gets married to a woman he's known for only six weeks. During the ceremony, Olive feels a sense of disquiet, of fear for her son. Of course she wants him to find happiness, to not be lonely, but still, she's wary of her new daughter-in-law, and worries "at the way the bride was smiling up at Christopher, as though she actually knew him. Because did she know what he looked like in first grade when he had a nosebleed in Miss Lampley's class? Did she see him when he was a pale, slightly pudgy child, his skin broken out in hives because he was afraid to take a spelling test? No...." 

This scene had me musing all afternoon. As Hubby and I worked to put our house to rights, I thought about marriage. About that old cliché of two becoming one. About the idea and the reality of matrimony, holy or otherwise. How two people who probably, as Olive points out, know little about each other commit to each other for life. Supposedly. And how the marriage ceremony itself does little to unify a couple, to make two people become one. 

Climb every mountain together? Yukon, 2006
That scene in Olive Kitteridge had me thinking the rest of the day about my own marriage. How well Hubby and I thought we knew each other when we got married, after having dated for a year, and lived together for another three. How much we've discovered about each other in the almost twenty-nine years since then. And what has made us more unified as a couple, what has helped us to become if not exactly "one," then certainly more "one" than we were on our wedding day. Ha. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

New Year; New Stuff

Ah, yes. Winter in Manotick. Everything is lovely and clean, pristine and peaceful. Bucolic, even. Especially after a snowfall. Especially in the bush. I love when it snows just after New Years. Making everything look, well... new year new. That's my theme today, actually. New stuff. 

chickadee on a snowy branch
We saw lots of chickadees today while we were skiing.

Monday, 8 January 2018

I Need a Good Book

I really, really need a good book. Not just a good book, but a great one. A big bitey, juicy, descriptive, character-driven book. One that will captivate me in the first chapter, transport me to wherever it is set, and make me forget all about the world... kind of book. 

Not necessarily a serious book, but a seriously interesting one. A book like The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, or A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, or The Children Act by Ian McEwen. A new Penelope Lively, maybe. Or the aptly named masterpiece, Euphoria, which Lily King wrote a few years ago. These books conjured up reader's euphoria, for me. The feeling you get after reading only a few pages when you know that you're going to be able to dive into the book, learn some really cool stuff, love and/or love to hate the characters, and feel as if you've been on a trip to a far away land. Yeah. That's what I need right now.

cover of Lily King's Euphoria cover of Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Is It Possible To Be An Ethical Shopper?

It's the dead of winter here in Ottawa, the dead time between New Year's and the return of normal life. Back in the day, I would fill this weirdly unreal time (between the craziness of Christmas, and the start of the school term) with marking. After Christmas, when boxing week sales made me not want to venture downtown, and Hubby was mesmerized by hockey on television (World Junior Hockey tournament, Spengler Cup, plus the regular NHL games) I'd allot a few hours a day to marking the major essays that my senior students had submitted on the last day before the break. And when school started again, I'd have that Herculean task all done and dusted instead of hanging over my head.  

So what do I do now, when the chaos of post Christmas traffic, crowded restaurants and stores, not to mention all that hockey on TV, keeps me in limbo? I do my closet inventory. Naturally. Nothing like a good stock-taking to start the year off right. This year, I'm asking myself if I'm any closer to being an ethical shopper. And, if I'm honest, if it's even possible to be an ethical shopper.

woman in sweater and jeans holding a pen and a small notebook
Consulting my little book of lists