Saturday, 27 December 2014

Drifting Towards the New Year

I have mentioned before that I am an introvert who often functions like an extrovert.  In many ways this was necessary to perform my job and now that life has changed I have been able to behave a bit more true to my nature and am enjoying that.  Still, somehow I have to find a way to balance my love of people, the deep affection and joy in the company of family and friends I hold dear, both online and off, with my persistent need to retreat and withdraw and the fact that I can and will feel regularly overwhelmed by social interactions.  The Christmas season, a time generally associated with parties and people and events and frantic shopping, is a difficult time for me even though there are many aspects of it which I enjoy.  For the past three years I have held a Winter Solstice party for a group of about ten friends, my one annual event to demonstrate my love by providing a cosy home, a warm fire and homemade food.  In my world food is love and if I love you I feed you.  I feed you things I have laboured to make giving careful consideration to your tastes and preferences.  I find this exhausting but deeply satisfying, however this year I did not have my party.  In consideration of my struggle to keep my head above water the past few months and the fact that many of my friends find this time of year overwhelmingly busy, I have deferred my party until February. 

Christmas is a very low key event in my world, for which I am grateful, and although it came and went and was quite pleasant, there is little to show or tell of it.  I enjoyed the company of my son and my parents and a little more food (chocolate) than I would normally eat  Over the past month I have mostly spent time alone, often exhausted but sometimes able to indulge in bursts of creativity.  I have done some painting.



The blue girl, while not a self portrait, seems to have been a response to hearing the news that a dear friend of my mum's has been diagnosed with cancer.  I painted Blue Girl the day I found out.

All of the colours are very much inspired by the look of winter here, and as usual the subjects are mainly just from inside my head.  The small painting is inspired by, though not a replica of, the view of sky, islands and water that I see from my windows.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

I Think Endlessly about Colour

Since I do not need to show you what I look like in a pair of jeans, bare feet and a sweater, an overall shape you have seen on me before, I am concentrating on close up images in a study of what wearing my best colours does for my face and in particularly the softer versions of my best colours.  My goal, in choosing what I call 'best' is to identify colours that don't require me to wear makeup or even make me look as though I am wearing some.  Here, with this soft taupe sweater I have powder for the camera glare and some pink lippie which to me feels bold.  I am currently so in love with this taupe sweater it's a good thing there was only one on the shelf or I might have bought two!



              This pretty taupe colour matches the shadows under my eyes! 

One of the personal colour theorists I have read, David Zyla, promotes the idea that our best colours are the ones that already exist in our own colouring-eyes, skin and hair.  In a nutshell, this means I look best in soft pinks, warm/ivory whites, grey-blues, taupe, cool browns, pink-browns and greyed green/teal.  I have found this to be quite true.  I have always gravitated towards raspberry pinks and mid-toned blues that skewed grey or teal.  My closet contains more in the blue-grey-teal range than anything else, closely followed by purple-pinks.  Sometimes our instincts know best.  Believing them to be somehow stronger looking (yes putting on my personal armour again) I tended to choose the darkest versions. 

I find it more difficult, when shopping, to find or determine, the cool brown taupe shades and to find the best greens.  What is on offer and what I am attracted to will often end up skewed warmer, with yellowish undertones. There is nothing yellow or golden about me anywhere.  Even the brownish flecks in my eyes are a taupe brown and nearly match my sweater.  My freckles are even rather taupe.

I suspect there are more sophisticated programmes for doing this, but since I am not aware of them, I used the free site Chip It by Sherwin Williams.  Sherwin Williams is a paint company and on this site they will take a photo and identify the ten predominant colours in it and match them to their paint colours.  Then they give you a palette sample.  I don't think it's perfect by any means.  I have seen photos were it looked to me as though certain colours were ignored and they are matching existing paint colours to a photo rather than creating a paint colour to replicate a photo, but for what it is worth I submitted a close up of my iris, my hair and my skin to get an idea of what colours I naturally embody.

                                        This was apparently my eyes.


This was my hair.  Green and blue are a bit surprising. My internet research shows me that Tricorn Black generally reads as a soft black with a very dark brown undertone that shows up in indoor lighting and it looks more charcoal grey in daylight.


This was my skin.  I can only imagine that Thunder Gray represents the shadows under my eyes.

These colours make a very good starting point for choosing colours to wear.  The colours I wear don't have to be identical but rather obviously should work with these colours.  They might be a deeper tone created by adding grey or black to deepen one of the lighter mauves, for example.  Experimenting with colour won't go wildly astray if the colours I choose suit these tones above.  The Aged Wine colour from the skin tone palette would make my version of a red lipstick.


Back to the psychology of my own experience, I am experimenting now, or perhaps more accurately stated as allowing myself to wear, the softer and lighter versions.  Where once I thought that I had to outgrow pink, that I had to look tough to be strong, at the advanced age of 47 I now know better.  I am both a stronger person than I have ever been and yet also at a safer place in life's path.  It is time to take off the armour.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Seasonal Colourings

I am not one of those people who gets depressed by grey weather, which is fortunate since I live on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada.  The natural colourings for much of the year here are greys, taupes, browns, greyed greens and blues.  I actually love those colours and love to wear them too.  I find that as winter blends into a softened greyed look I want to do the same thing with what I am wearing.  By March I will be getting weary of this though and ready to transition into spring. April will have me longing for some colour.  Again, this fits with the natural seasons, as there are sunnier days with a bit more intensity to the blues and greens, purples, pinks and yellows are emerging in the wild flowers.  I don't wear yellow comfortably, but I will be happily dressing in more pink and purple by April.  Summer sun is high overhead and that intense light makes more saturated colours a good choice since the bright light washes out the softer ones and I am never sporting a suntan which would give contrast to pale colours and make them stand out.   I gravitate towards deeper pinks and teals by mid summer.  Autumn weather can vary here though the sunny days usually extend into mid October, giving way to the grey and wet days by the end of the month.  It's another transition time.

In this picture I am wearing my dark neutrals.  It's a mix of charcoal, dark denim and dark brown.  The lighting inside is dark this time of year and even with a flash and lightening the photo in my basic editing programme everything looks a little more intense and dark than it actually is.  I notice that with my hair as well as the clothes and the fact that my cross body bag barely shows up.  My hair is light brown, my sweater is charcoal-slate grey. I am also wearing makeup here and although the colours are very soft and I used a light touch, I think it looks quite a bit more dramatic than my usual bare face.  While my clothing changes with the seasons my makeup doesn't other than the amount I may choose to wear.



 Makeup. I do wear it sometimes.  Usually on my blog posts you see me bare faced as I don't wear it often but I do actually know how to use it.   Here is my stash of makeup and tools.  I have more than I need and as you can see I don't bother to organise it. 




What makeup am I wearing in this photo?  In this photo I've done eyes and lips and a light dusting of powder to compensate for that camera flash shine.  If I were going somewhere fancy or if I felt I was looking pale or unwell I might use a tinted moisturizer but my skin is quite fair and most can look orange on me.  It's tricky to find one that is very pale and cool in tone.  I seek colour names like ivory and vanilla but those turn up in heavier foundations more often.  The tinted moisturizers rarely are light enough for me and they usually contain sunscreen which I don't want in it.

Why no sunscreen?  I am rarely outdoors in the sun or even on a cloudy day for long periods of time.  If I were going to be I would use a separate sunscreen.

So here are my favourite emergency face products that do not make me orange or look too dark on my skin.

Almay Smart Shade CC cream and Almay Smart Shade pressed powder in Light


Eyes probably get the most attention when I bother but I prefer neutrals.  If I lived the sort of life where I went out at night or attended parties I might play with some colours but I don't so I don't.


Great Lash mascara by Maybelline in brownish black.  The eye shadows are Revlon and in the above photo I am wearing the two lightest shades of taupe on the far left.  The greys in the palette on the right are very silvery and look quite glamorous on me.  For the photo I experimented with the darker brown in my brows but it is too dark for my liking and not ash enough.  I feel overdone with powdered brows.  The pencil is by Annebelle and is called Rich Chocolate though it seems to be quite a dark taupe.

Lips instantly make me look made up even the most subtle shades.  I favour soft mauve/pinks and am always looking for the perfect one in the perfect formula.  I want light, sheer and long lasting.  Those qualities don't really go together.  The closest I have come to that is the akwardly named Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey.  That is the chubby pencil in the photo.  The bullet is L'oreal lip balm which goes on soft and sheer but of course doesn't stay on long.  Overall, while colour on my lips looks nice for the way it gives me a rosy glow, I don't really like the shape of my mouth and don't like to emphasise it.  It might help if I were less self conscious in photos and could smile more. 



 Th top one on this piece of paper is the L'oreal lip balm and the bottom one is the Revlon Stain Balm.  Straight from the tube I find the Revlon one too thick and heavy so I always blot it.  For the photo of myself today I experimented with putting the L'Oreal balm on top of the blotted Revlon.  It looks and feels like too much to me.


I am always aiming for nearly natural but slightly better.  Some pale pinks are too pale and frosty looking or too bright on me.  A slight mauve undertone is usually good.  The L'oreal has a slightly more brownish tone than the Revlon does.  I am not a bright lipstick person.  There are other colours which look good with my own colouring but I don't feel comfortable wearing them.


Half an hour later, and two cups of tea the lip balm has worn off (it wouldn't have it I'd used just the Revlon.  And here, is a scary closeup just to prove I do  not, by any means, have flawless skin but I am confident displaying my real skin to the world:  I am human.  I have pores and freckles and only photo shop is going to get rid of my dark circles.  I took this photo by the window to get natural light and more accurate colour.



Friday, 5 December 2014

Another Chapter

There is another chapter in the Scribblings Page and there is another chapter in my closet.  There are also five huge plastic garbage bags full of clothes that have been accumulating in the spare closet as I set aside the things I was not wearing or not feeling comfortable in.  I have to admit that many of them are thrift shop purchases.  It has been a way to experiment at less cost, though perhaps the cost of the overall experiment has been a bit high.  In the end I think it was worth trying everything I liked the look of on a hanger in order to confirm for myself what I really do want to wear and what feels like me.  Just because I like it that does not mean I am happy wearing it.

It's funny to me that I was less of a clothing conformist in my youth.  I wonder what happened?  Several things, I suppose but now I feel like I am back on track.  I am sure I will still make mistakes but I think I will make fewer.  I will still want a wardrobe that allows me to experiment and create layers, but overall I know what colours, fabrics, shapes and textures I want.  I know what silhouettes work for me.  When I look at my rail of clothing, at the stacks of tee shirts and sweaters, at my rack of hanging scarves, I see nothing but colours that make me sigh with happiness.  I see fabric I want to wrap myself up in.  I see that it looks like Shawna lives here.

I am wishing everyone a lovely weekend and not I must dash off and build an ark.

                                       From the Sophie Archives

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Making and Changing: Keeping a Busy Brain Occupied

I have never identified as a girly girl and in my mind this would mean dressing like Katy Perry.  Since I am not interested in sparkle or glitter or bright pink things, high heels, manicures or cupcakes I used to think I was not feminine. It takes me all of five minutes to do a full and dramatic (for me) makeup and I rarely do it.   I do not meet the typical definition of a girly girl but I am quite feminine nonetheless:  I adore shoes and throw pillows.  Believing that I could potentially be ignored if I didn't dress boldly, I shunned any sort of soft look most of the time, doing my best to ignore the fact that I simply am soft looking and have a soft personality too.  In teaching I was surrounded by bold and dramatic people.  I tried to fit in with that.  I am not dramatic, exotic, sporty or in any way suited to angular lines, graphic prints, dramatic touches or red lipstick but I think many teachers are and that was the world I was caught up in.  I thought that I was in danger of being ignored, not taken seriously, not noticed at work, not authoritative when I needed to be, and so I denied my inherent softness.  I forgot that soft does not mean there is no strength.  I tried to make myself spiky and sharp, edgy and tough, and I built an armour with defiant short hair and lots of black clothes.  I tried to prove that I am fun and creative, just look at these bright colours I wear! 

I have been an introvert trying to dress herself like her idea of an extrovert, afraid that soft meant weak or boring or too young or old and frumpy. Soft can be very strong though.  Soft may bend but not break.  I have been making things in my wardrobe softer and more suited to me.  Not wearing black does not mean only wearing pale colours.  I am embracing brown and grey because I have always loved them best.

 I began with boots and a handbag, but as is typical with me I didn't think to take before pictures of everything.  I had a cognac coloured shoulder bag I loved for it's style and size and a pair of cognac boots I also loved but I was not enjoying or feeling right in cognac.  So I dyed them both a deep, dark brown.  I have always loved this colour despite the funny looks I get when I say so.  It's a smelly and messy job, this leather dying and I never think to put gloves on so my  hands have really been suffering.  They are dry and cracked and a strange orange colour with brown stains under my nails.  I look very dirty. I don't normally wear nail polish on my fingers but I might have to for awhile to look cleaner.

Dark brown boots and shoulder bag: This has always been a brown that I love.  Seriously, it moves me like black does not. I get a little catch in my breath and my heart skips a beat over distressed dark brown leather. They still need a few touch ups perhaps but I rather like them looking imperfect. I think I will scuff up the toes a bit more.


I made some faux-boot socks to put with these boots, using a thrifted pure wool sweater I felted, cut up and added a bit of tea-stained lace to the tops.  I like my boot socks a bit slouchy and loose.  These give added warmth to my legs and visual interest without adding bulk to my feet inside the boots. Again, the colours are not quite accurate but they are close. The lace is more beige than white after tea staining, and just to explain how inaccurate this colour is-that wall in the background is more gold coloured and yet looks grey-beige here.


This is a better image of what the tea-stained lace looks like.  I took this photo while I was still working on sewing it.  I hand stitched it, of course, but here it's just pinned.


I love these camel coloured boots for comfort and style but not the camel colour.  It was too butterscotchy yellow for me so I got brave and dyed them a deep grey-blue colour.

                                                    Before:


After:  I am pleased with the results.  Still a bit 'distressed' looking but with grey tones now.  I used a dye meant for suede and it took a lot of dye to do these boots.



A thrifted wool cloche needed a little bit of a repair.  Someone must have tossed it in the wash and the flower had become felted and was a sort of lumpy ball that did not look much like a flower but mainly like, well, a lumpy ball of felted wool.  It was glued on quite aggressively but I managed to cut it off without damaging it and then I spread out the pieces and folded and rearranged the 'petals' until it looked like a nice flower as I assume it did once before.  I sewed a silver button in the centre and glued the new flower back on to the thick glue spot that was still there on the hat.


Speaking of flowers, I recently made a couple of purple silk flowers from a blouse that just wasn't working for me.  Here I have the flower pinned to a tee shirt. The colours are not actually as bright as they look here but I can't get an accurate picture in the indoor lighting lately.  The choices are too dark or too bright.



And then I made a pair of socks into some fingerless gloves.  I would do a few things differently next time but mostly I like how these turned out.  I do not have any chance at a career as a hand model.  The sock was cut into two pieces and sewn together.  I added decorative buttons which you can barely see but I'm not sure how I like the look of them.




The rounded toe caps I cut off looked like cute little hats for dolls but I don't know anyone with any dolls.

And speaking of troubles with the indoor/winter lighting, here is a somewhat dark picture of a trial outfit.  There is no black here though nothing is pale.  The colours are somewhat muted though the waterfall sweater is getting to be more jeweltone.  This is a dramatic look for me and I would not wear the necklace or belt if I were just staying home.  The main trial here is the waterfall cardigan.  I love it in theory but am not certain about wearing it. 


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Re-thinking Black and Accepting My Softness



How many selfies does it take for me to figure out that my colouring is primarily soft, that I should probably not dye my hair too dark and that black is no more right for me any more than warm tones are?  Well, it takes about this many:






 I get a reddish tint in my hair in some lighting but regardless of hair colour I think it's quite obvious that softer colours are better.  I don't  have makeup on in these pictures and yet the soft colours can make my complexion quite rosy.



Compare those soft colours with this black intruding on the purpe colour and see how tired I look.  While I love it, I am not  sure that the purple with gold is working for me but I do think it is better than the black.

                                   Deep blue is better than black.


     Deep chocolate brown seems to work, especially with my hair a bit darker.



 Sexy shoulder! This sweater slips off all the time so I only wear it at home.  Here, I think grey is working better than black  although this sweater is actually a mix of tones and reads a bit muddy in the photo.  Perhaps I look nice in mud.  I have lately been obsessed with a sort of muddy grey-brown and pinning lots of clothing of this colour on Pinterest.


I always love jewel tones and I think they work but are perhaps better for a dramatic look involving makeup, which I rarely do. There is definitely makeup in this picture.  This is my glamorous look.  Glamorous school teacher?  Sexy librarian?  Okay, I know a big baggy sweater is not sexy.  There's my Supermodel Sophie in the background.

                   Here I think the purple works but the black doesn't.


I think even this grey and camel combination is working better than black too, though I am doubtful about camel on it's own.  I got rid of this camel sweater but it's the overall softness of this combination that I think is working for me.

Black is not flattering on me.  At best, it is "not bad" but blue and grey are clearly more flattering so why waste my time with black? I look tired and puffy here and I could well be tired but I am also tired in most of these photos since I am tired most of the time. (grumble, moan, complain)

Why did it take me this long to figure it out?  It took a collection of photos, which seem to reveal more than looking in the mirror does, to show me what I truly look like.  It also took acceptance of the fact that overall I have a soft look.  I used to think that I looked boring and that soft, muted colours would make me disappear.  I have changed my mind and it's about bloody time!  Soft and muted does not equal dull and boring. I feel 'right' in those colours.  The neutrals I want to work with are cool browns, taupe and charcoal grey.

This is where the excessive thinking part comes in and I have had to edit this several times so as to get it down to a small selection of rambling thoughts.

In a nutshell, or the closest thing to nutshells that I can do, I want to eliminate black and I am the sort of person who once she decides on something jumps right in.  There has been plenty of thinking.  Now I want action.  BUT it isn't easy.  I have a large collection of black things most of which I love for the style and comfort if not the colour.

Options:

* eliminate black clothing but still use black in hosiery/footwear (I suspect this will annoy me for feeling incomplete)

* change hosiery to grey but still wear black shoes/boots and embrace contrast (confess to not liking this idea as I like a more blended look)

* dye my shoes/boots/handbags (big job and risky but possible)

* sell the black shoes/boots/handbags (see concern listed below)

* put the black items away out of sight, live without them and don't make any other decision yet (also called procrastination)

Concerns:

* it feels wasteful and frivolous to abandon a large and good quality collection of boots/shoes/bags GUILT

* I really like the shoes and boots for their style and comfort

Does black work for you?  Do you care?  If you don't wear black, what do you wear instead? How do you treat the hosiery/footwear relationship?  I would love to hear about what you do.



Sunday, 30 November 2014

You Are Cordially Invited Inside My Head




There is always a great deal of buzz going on in my head.   While I definitely need to find methods of coping with that, the answer does not lie in believing that the way I am is wrong.  This is who and what I am.  I am a natural born apologiser, peace-maker, excuse-maker and accommodator and potential door mat (which breaks that nice rhythm of all those -er words I was building). I am generally described by people as really nice. I bubble and enthuse at times and can be serious and intense at others. I love people but I am still an introvert who needs much alone time, which leaves me alone with my thoughts.  Many thoughts all happen at the same time,  much of them prone to analysing, worrying planning and endlessly attempting to understand things better.  My brain is like this computer, where I usually have several tabs open and am looking at or reading about many different things.  I also usually have more than one book on the go. 

Writing out my thoughts, the serious and the trivial, helps by getting them outside of my head.  It's like taking them and putting them on a shelf and although I always did it by hand in a notebook, often before going to sleep at night, I can put many more of them on that shelf if I use my computer.  I am even more productive, if I can use that term, when I write them for this blog, when there is a presumed audience or perhaps it is that I need people to give the thoughts away to.  'Here you go,' I say,  'I am overwhelmed by these and must give them away.  Here are the thoughts from Monday morning or the thoughts from Wednesday afternoon.'  But you might not want them.  Some of them are definitely less coherent or do not come to any sort of conclusion and because of that I actually have seventy-seven draft posts on file.  I reached one hundred posts somewhere after half a year of blogging and did not feel it was anything to celebrate.  I was rather embarrassed by my prolific posting actually.

Knocking out my thoughts through the keyboard, just as I am doing right now is easy.  They are constantly arranging themselves almost essay like inside my head and banging against the walls of my skull to be let out.  I have not slowed down posting blogs because I ran out of things to say, but rather I became embarrassed at having a disproportionate amount of energy for spewing out blogs compared with what I have for reading them.  Or reading anything for that matter.   The world of blogging has opened up a whole new arena of friends and acquaintances readily accessible to a semi-housebound introvert BUT just as I limit my circle of friends because I cannot give all that I would expect myself to give, I find it is the same way online and I am bogged down by the social niceties and the etiquette involved in blog visiting, commenting, responding to comments on my own blog and not being able to live up to my own desires to visit everyone and have a lovely chat and give out hugs and spread the love.


I know myself well and know how to cope with who I am but that doesn't mean I don't have plenty of aha moments.  Writing this blog helps me sort through my thoughts in many ways but blogging does seem to come without guilt.  Not that anybody is forcing you to read this or to comment, but sometimes I think to myself that it seems so awful to be writing a blog that is all about me me me and to not always have the energy to go out there and visit and read about you you you.   As you can imagine, I have given this lots of thought.  It's my specialty.  At least all of that thinking usually leads me to some consoling ideas, one of which is this one: This blog is all about me (actually not all about me but more accurately expressed as only about me) because I do not think it is my right to write about the other people in my life more than in passing and making only kind and complimentary comments.  This blog is also significantly about my personal journey, a journey which lately has involved much focus on clothing.  It's a journey into where a new and different life, figuring out what I want to wear, what I think looks best on me, how I want to present myself, and who I really am are all connected.  I hope that in some way reading my thoughts and experiences can help other people with theirs.  Or, that it is mildly entertaining because I am quite happy to entertain you.

Is there any sort of conclusion in this post or is it just a ramble through my head?  Well a bit of both, of course.  In my attempts to correct some of my wrong-thinking tendencies, my inclination to be very hard on myself and critical of myself, I have been relating this to what I wear, what I have believed I should or should not wear I have been hard on myself for even having such an issue.  I questioned my questioning nature.  I criticised myself for being who I am.  I am finished with that.  Honest, I took an online test and I really am not a neurotic, but what I do know is that I am is a Dressing Your Truth Type 2 and although I resisted that system and doubted the Type 2, and I have not purchased the programme at all, there is no doubt in my mind that I am a Type 2 (yes I know, I too initially cringed at the whole concept of a type) but what has happened is that I recognise myself so clearly that I no longer believe I am flawed.  Now, I am a certain type of person, still unique, but with tendencies and characteristics that others like me share, and most importantly I can recognise that I must stop trying to change myself, trying to be what I am not.   It is often said that you cannot be lovable until you love yourself.  I have never not loved myself but have always carried with me the idea that I might not be acceptable or that I might not be 'right' as I am in addition to the guilt for feeling that way.  A heavy burden.  I refuse to carry it any longer.




 This is not an endorsement; I am sharing a resource.  At first look DYT is a system for figuring out what to wear but it goes further.  It goes into behaviours and thought patterns and personality and links those to ways of dressing and presenting yourself.  Many women seem to be in denial of or resistant to who they are and this system can be helpful.  Like all systems it is flawed and some people have criticisms of the system and/or the founder.  I know many women who are blogging about their style will not feel at all that they are in need of figuring anything out.  This system will not be for them.  Some people embrace the system literally and others interpret it along with and in accompaniment to other systems.

Dressing Your Truth- there is a course that can be purchased and there are books but there is also much free information on the website including videos.
Identify Your Type

This link takes you to a quiz that helps you find your DYT type quite accurately though it is not created by or endorsed by the DYT company.
 Find Your Type Quiz




Tuesday, 25 November 2014

First Attempt

For a long time now I have been dreaming of making new creations from old clothes.  I have held on to a secret stash of items that aren't quite right but have been saved from the donation bin.  Some hold promise in their shape, with just a few alterations or embellishments and others I have kept merely for the fabric. Since dresses tend not to fit me well I have a stash of them destined to be converted into skirts.  I am more of a dreamer than a doer, or at least I dream of far more than I can manage to do and I don't even like sewing.  Actually, I love hand sewing.  Is that strange?  As a little girl I hand stitched my own creations for my Barbie dolls, spending hours cutting, pinning and stitching scraps of fabric and I still love to do that.  But the part I love most is the cutting and pinning.  I have an aversion to my sewing machine.  Mainly because it is unfamiliar and that means I have to learn how to use it and that seems like such a bore.  I just want to wave a magic wand.  Or wield a needle and thread.

           Sorry about the poor photo. Somebody please turn off that lamp!

Of course I did not think to take a 'before' photo but this was a basic pull over tunic that was a bit too small for me.  It had a slight hole which I darned and overall it's not particularly high quality so it seemed perfect for an experiment.  I cut it up the middle, tried it on and noticed that the front looked best sort of folded outwards so I stitched that part down with some pretty buttons.  I pondered additions of lace, pinning bits on and taking them off again.  I let the raw edges roll in on themselves and added some ribbon to tie it together in front and make it look more like it is meant to be open down the middle and isn't some old tunic I cut up. 


I am a messy and rather childlike creative.  I like to sit on the floor.  I strew bits and bobs all over the place and  I dislike cleaning it all up afterwards.  As I sat on the floor stitching  this first up-cycling attempt, I remembered how I sat amid Mum's fabric scraps, which I kept in a big plastic bag in my closet.  I would dump it all out and spread it around me and sort through it looking for just the right piece.  Naked Barbie Dolls were also scattered around waiting to be pinned into whatever I was going to create for them.  In summer I would do this outside, on the back sundeck and managed to convince my best friend that this was a great way to spend the day.  I recall I also had ambitions of making a patchwork quilt after seeing one on the bed of a family friend.  It was made of squares cut from old clothing and a dark blue velvet one remains in my memory.  I digress, as usual. Here is a picture of what this outfit looks like in the going outside version. And there is that damn lamp again.


Yes, mushroom-bowl haircuts are all the rage.  Didn't you know?  We cannot blame Jason for this one.  Last spring I decided to grow out my hair and it got about this far and then I bailed on the plans and got it cut shorter.  In the end I regretted that.  I am ready for more hair so I've let it grow and am back to where I was last May.  I look forward to getting out of mushroom land and into short bob land.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Even When We Cannot See It The Sun Shines On Us All

I have so much catching up to do with my blog reading. It's positively dangerous to be absent for a couple of weeks.  It was a definite crash but I am very encouraged by my ability to recover from crashes faster than I did a few years ago.  It seems like I have been not functioning well for about a month though I managed to fake it for part of that and have really only spent about two weeks needing significant help.  My mother is an angel, a saint, or whatever the non-theist version of that might be.  I attempted to order groceries online.  It was my first time; I was an online grocery virgin and I am sure that next time it will be better.  Actually it was pretty good except that I only ordered one mushroom.  The person filling the order must have found that pretty strange.  Oh well, I have troubles preparing food when I crash anyhow and don't like it when produce goes to waste.  My mother, in one of her many saintly ways, will often wash and peel or cut up vegetables for me or cook me meals and send Dad over with them still hot.   While I was not fully bedridden it was a daily choice between showering and dressing or managing to scramble some eggs.

I turned the corner a couple of days ago and suddenly am longing to read, write, paint, to do everything and to get out.  That is the difficult part actually because I must not overdo it.  I must reign myself in.  It's a bit of a surprise that I am doing okay at this moment because in the past week I have been through a challenging and emotionally difficult experience which I was not sure I was going to be able to write about.  In the end, writing is always a very good way for me to relieve the burden of emotions and while I am not one for airing the dirty laundry, this bit of news has to be shared.  It has to be shared because it involves Sophie.




Rest assured, Sophie is alive and well.  But she is no longer living with me.  I shared stories and pictures of her on this blog and I believe, I hope, it is obvious that I love her.  She is a complicated character though and what I didn't share was her violent side.  Yes, I did just use the word violent.  Sophie spent the first two years of her life growing up with a puppy.  It is another difficult story but suffice it to say the dog is no longer my companion either.  I thought I was cured, that I no longer had M.E. and I wanted a dog.  It went well for the first year.  That's a long story and I will cut it short but the point is that I chose Sophie because she displayed a very boisterous personality and I thought she would do well with a dog.  She sure did.  She loved to play with Lucy and they chased, wrestled, hid, pounced, attacked, and bathed each other.  Sophie did most of this and Lucy just sort of lumped around and enjoyed it.  It has been nearly a couple of years since Lucy lived with us and Sophie has been without her playing companion.



I thought this would be okay.  Cats, after all, usually outgrow play to some degree and Sophie proved skilled at amusing herself.  But in time it became obvious that she is the border collie of cats.  She is intelligent and very active.  She gets bored and when she is bored things get destroyed.  She wants to play for hours and expects human participation.  One of her favourite games is fetch.  When Sophie wanted me to play with her, which was nearly constantly, she attacked me the same way she used to attacked Lucy.  Lucy loved it.  Lucy had thick skin and fur so hardly felt it and after the roughhousing Sophie would wash Lucy's face.  I tried many tactics to train Sophie, to redirect her energy and to give her alternative things to bite.  I researched online what to do but nothing worked.  I tried to put up with being scratched and bitten.  I excused it and focused on her sweet side.  Sophie's frustration at being bored was increasing over the past year and she would often bite the sofa or a pillow with the most intense ferocity.  She knew she was not supposed to do this.  In fact she would stop if I said 'no' but stop only for a minute and then possibly attack me if the sofa was not an option.   Eventually she began to get sneakier.  She would sneak up on me and attack so that I had to be on guard all the time she was awake. 

I find it difficult to admit to her dark side.   I do not think it her fault, but rather that she is a cat not meant to be an indoor cat.  She needs physical and mental stimulation and I could not give her the life she needed.  Last week she bit my arm so hard, sinking her teeth in, that I looked like I had been attacked by a vampire.  That was when I made the difficult decision to give her up.  I did not know anyone who could take her (unlike Lucy for whom I found a wonderful and better home) so it had to be the SPCA.  I was not physically able to cope with this myself, being so exhausted, so Mum helped.  Although they said they could take her, it was four days later that they actually had physical room for Sophie so it was  yesterday that she went.  I miss her.  I am, of course, experiencing guilt along with the sadness.


The place in the kitchen where her food and water were looms large and empty so that I almost trip on that unexpected space.  I woke this morning and instinctively reached out my hand and spoke to her though she was not there.  I came home from an appointment today and expected her to greet me when I came in the door.  It feels like a death although it is not and Sophie and I will both be fine.  She is a lovely cat in many ways and with the right home, with the opportunity to go outdoors and perhaps other animal companions, she will get the stimulation she needs and will be a loving companion.  I miss her snuggling with me, but I do not miss being bitten.  I do not miss feeling close to tears because she still wants me to play with her and I have done as much as I could.  I miss the sounds of her breathing. I miss the mess of her toys everywhere.   It is quiet in her now.



Life brings changes.  It brings difficult things and joyful things.  It brings endings and new beginnings, it brings both growth and loss.  The only thing I know how to do is to keep going and I have done so in situations much more difficult than this.  And yet this is difficult.  It's possible that the emotional strain of not being able to cope with her contributed to my small crash, and it's possible that the relief of dealing with it has contributed to what looks like my recovery.  I am not sure I can live without a cat.  I have hardly ever done so.  But for awhile I will.  And right now I mourn my loss of the beautiful, intelligent, complicated, affectionate and rambunctious Sophie. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

If I Went to See Oz

The great and powerful that is, not the country.  If I went to see Oz The Great and Powerful I might ask for more than a brain or a heart.  I might ask for a new body and this would include the brain.

                                                   Source

Today I woke around 7am after eight hours of sleep miraculously provided by medication.  I had a bath and I washed my hair.  I put on clothes.  Nothing worth showing here, I am nowhere near that yet but jeans are a step up from pyjamas or sweatpants.  I spent the day on the sofa instead of the bed and I would estimate that fifty percent of that time was in sitting up.  I prepared three meals for myself and two cups of tea.  I read for awhile and although I often had to re-read whole paragraphs and even whole pages, it is progress to have been reading. My headache was milder than it has been lately.  The other aches were mild today too.  My lymph nodes have been generally calm and not detectably swollen.  By the time I had finished my bath it felt as though I had just done a workout designed for achieving a whole body of steel.  Why am I telling you this?

In general I am not a complainer.  I live with a chronic illness but it is my intention to enjoy the life that I have and not waste time or energy longing for another one.  It is also my goal to contribute to a public understanding of the medical condition known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.   It is this condition that I live with.  I am less afflicted than some, more so than others.  According to my doctor I have the worst case he has ever personally known but then this is a small town.  My general condition is considered to be an average case most of the time.  It varies.  There are remissions and relapses.  It can vary from day to day and within a day.  I have had relapses that were lengthy but mostly I experience what I call 'crashes'.  These are sort of mini relapses.  Mini, by my definition, is less than two months.  I have been struggling for a month now, ever since picking up a mild cold.

And yes, it is a very mild cold.  I still seem to have it after about a month but the symptoms are barely noticeable to another person.  It is not really the cold itself but how my body reacts to having a virus that is extraordinary.  It knocks the stuffing out of me, as my mother says.  In addition to this little bit of 'woe is me', my attempt here is to reach out to any others suffering from this illness and to let them know that life goes on, that relapses happen but one overcomes eventually, to offer up a tiny bit of validation, I hope, for an illness that was for so long ignored, denied and ridiculed (yuppy flu), in addition to all of that, I am offering up my regrets for not visiting the blogs I love to visit.  As I have already noted, reading is a challenge, though spewing out my own thoughts is not.  My thoughts come as readily as breathing, in fully formed sentences and sometimes paragraphs.  I kid you not.  My own thoughts that is.  Comprehending others is a different matter.

There is an aspect of mental impairment to this illness.  To some degree it is the impairment that comes with fatigue, but this is a neurological illness, one which according to my research involves vastly reduced blood flow to all areas of the body.  I suspect that if I did not have this illness I would be a genius and a super athlete and it would be unkind of you to disillusion me.

I am offering up some more of my writing.  It is not recently done, but a another chapter from what is currently around fourteen of them.  I write feverishly or not at all when I write fiction.  Although it has little to do with my original topic, and thus not a writing example to impress any English teacher, I will conclude with a thank you.  Thank you to all the amazing people I have met who create interesting, creative and unique blogs which I enjoy reading, thank you to those who read mine and take the time to comment.  Thank you to those who show up and read but stay silent and anonymous.  It is amazing to me to know you are there, amazing how this blogging thing reaches around the world.

If I have done it correctly, this link here should take you to the writing page.  Otherwise the link is on the top right corner of the blog under Pages and titled Scribblings and Other Words.

                                     ********************

There are many sources of information online, some more credible or up to date than others.  Today I am linking to this one in case it is of any use to anybody, though it is not generally difficult to do a google search for ME.

http://www.meassociation.org.uk/about/what-is-mecfs/

And I found this video series enormously affirming and thus helpful.  The link should take you to the first in the series called Get Well From ME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7avG_U4axUk&list=PLFA8AEA2E6E413377

Saturday, 8 November 2014

It Could Happen to You

We've all heard the stories but we think it isn't going to happen to us.  Or at least we hope it isn't.  It took forty seven years but finally it did happen to me and of course I am going to tell you about it.

I had a lovely time at my monthly session of coffee, catch up and inflicting my writing on my dear friend Sheila.  Before I say any more I am going to publicly thank her for all of her reading (eleven chapters so far) enthusiasm and support.  I saw the fantastic photos of Sheila's recent special birthday celebration and we had our usual combination chat in which we did not manage to solve any of the world's greatest problems but we asserted out own philosophies on life and Sheila was the kinder and gentler version of the two of us.

While Sheila read chapters eight through eleven I slipped off to the Ladies' Room and that was when the first disaster occurred.  Not that I knew it right away.  About an hour later, as we left the cafe and progressed up the street a very kind woman hurried up behind me and informed me quickly that my skirt was caught up in my leggings at the back.  Oh horrors!  All I can say at this point is feck it, if leggings are passé.  I wear them like tights and thank the gods and goddesses that I do.  Of course, because I do I likely didn't feel the breeze on my backside.  This is what Sheila kindly pointed out to me while I was expressing my horror and then my gratitude for leggings.  Nonetheless, I praise the deities for leggings and heap blessings upon the kind woman who rescued me.  In defense of Sheila, she had not at any stage been behind me in order to notice this horror.  She hastened to point this out to me, but I must have intuited that for it did not once cross my mind to wonder why she hadn't said anything.  OF COURSE she would have if she had noticed.

The indignity of this survived, I completed my few errands and drove home.  Upon arrival at home and safely parked in my assigned spot, I realised that I had closed the door on my skirt.  Significantly.  So that anybody driving past me would have seen some skirt hanging out.  Good grief it is a relief to know I am home now and off the roads.  A woman who cannot manage  her own dress should not be out menacing society with a car.  In addition to these assorted mishaps, it was a really bad hair day and no headband could save me.  Although I bundled up for a chilly morning it got progressively warmer and was not a hat day.




                          Good hair days are a bit hit and miss these days.

After pairing red with turquoise, one of my favourite combinations, I paired it with aubergine for Dad's birthday dinner.  This dress is the only item left from my teacher wardrobe.  I think I've had it for around 15 years and I love it.  It's very well made, and very comfortable.  I bought it new but on sale for 70% off because maxi dresses were not in at the time and it seemed to beg for a tall person to wear it.  The shop owner just had not been able to sell it.


The details don't show up well in the photo but the dress is corduroy, has a fringe on the bottom and is a very deep aubergine or plum.  We could say this outfit is cranberry and plum if we wish to be fruity.

I have difficulty dealing with the flapping ends of belts.  Sometimes, with a narrower belt I can tuck the loose piece under the belt and let it dangle down, as I did with the red belt in the first outfit.  With this belt being stiffer and shorter in length I had some troubles .  Eventually I resorted to a less than chic solution which is hidden by my cardigan.

It's a black twist tie from a vacuum pack of coffee beans.  Usually it is amongst Sophie's toys but I stole it from her.

And here is a sweet little turtle pin I found at the thrift shop recently. This close up also shows the colours I am wearing, including the shadow stripes of the tee shirt.  The dress is a jumper style and must have a layer underneath.


And....I have my doubts about the wisdom of putting this photo on the internet, but for the sake of showing my thrift shop earrings-I don't usually wear costume jewelry but these don't seem to irritate my ears- I am breaking the no profile photo rule.  I suppose it is not a full profile, and I am somewhat fascinated by it since I never see myself from this angle.  I don't recognise myself. I always thought my nose was too small and here it looks positively huge.



Note:  I have added a couple more chapters to the Scribblings page.   Some days I like where it is going and other days I am certain it is total crap.  Ah well, it keeps me occupied.


I am linking up to Sheila's Shoe Shine to share my favourite red shoes.