Thursday, 29 October 2015

Smiles in the Mail

One of the loveliest things that ever happened to me was becoming friends with a mermaid.  I am a loyal friend, but I do tend to drop out of sight frequently.  I think mermaids know how to handle that.  They too sometimes spend their time in the depths of the ocean as opposed to combing their long beautiful hair while sitting on a rock.  Mermaids are iridescent, shimmering in the light but they are shy too.

My mermaid friend sends cards in the mail, which make me feel loved.  It's nice to feel loved, to be remembered.  Some of my friends don't really know how best to deal with my illness and my retreating.  They are afraid of disturbing me, interrupting my sleep, bothering me in some way so they leave it up to me to make contact when I feel okay.  But it's nice to be interrupted sometimes.  I need it actually.  I need people to check on me because I tend not to ask for help and sometimes, often actually, I would happily be woken up just to be reminded that I am loved.

I am probably not a perfect friend, probably not getting it right.  I have high standards which I cannot meet myself so I don't hold anyone else to them.  I'm too busy worrying that I am not a good enough friend to be criticising anyone's way of being friends with me.  But, I do want to thank my mermaid friend for sending cards in the mail.  It's such a treat to get anything in the mail that isn't junk or a bank statement.  I only check my mailbox once a week because that is how uninteresting my mail usually is.  What a joy, a novelty, a long forgotten thing it is to find something in the mail that is there simply to tell me that my friendship is appreciated.  I am old enough to remember when that kind of thing used to happen more often. Now, it is the kind of thing that makes me smile to myself, a small tear forming in one eye.  Salt water.  Reminding me of a mermaid.

                                             Isn't she beautiful?

Monday, 26 October 2015

Blue Goes With.....Me

There is lots of blue in my closet.  (Gripping opening sentence, isn't it?) I consider it a neutral and in fact blue is my black whereas brown, grey and even touches of black are my bits of colour.  When in doubt buy it in blue.  Nearly everything is offered in at least one shade of blue, typically navy, and that is often what I will buy, especially if it's a wardrobe basic.  If I don't like any of the other colours offered I usually like the blue.

                                      Sometimes my blues are cobalt.
I managed to smile for this photo.  If I can just remember to do that more often you'd be seeing something truer to the real me.  I am either very self conscious in front of a camera or I am concentrating so hard on getting the photo I forget that I am in it.  This photo was taken in a rare moment of really good lighting where the true colours are actually showing.  In photos below, darker blues turn to black and I suddenly have a sun tan.

Denim, navy and teal blues are also typical in my wardrobe.  The vest is navy but the pants are black and in real life, quite distinguishable from each other, unlike in this photo.  The boots are also blue.

And I wear blue with black, blue with brown, blue with purple, red and navy is exhilarating, blue and white is fresh.....I wear blue with everything.  Wearing it with grey or brown is a definite comfort zone.

Digression:  I keep going into the local shoe store looking for blue shoes.  Is it too much to ask that somebody make a comfortable T strap or Mary Jane shoe with a stacked heel somewhere around 2.5 inches and make it in a nice bright navy or denim blue colour?  Apparently it is too much to ask.  And don't get me started on my attempts to buy a good quality oxford shoe in brown.   I can't even get a poor quality one.  The joys of small town  living!

                 But back to the blues.....I really do like blue with brown. 

The solution to a bad hair day is to cut off my head.    I do like the soft taupe and denim blue together though.

This is a man's silk shirt .  Since it's a rather loose and slouchy top I like it with a skirt that skims over me.  Something with a bit of flare at the bottom seems to be more flattering than a straight skirt. This skirt is a lovely dark chocolate brown.  I do love chocolate and I have always, ALWAYS loved the colour brown.

I cannot think of any colour I would typically wear that I do not love to pair with blue  and I can think of some I don't wear (any sort of yellow) that also look great with it.  I happen to really love blue with brown, black or gray and it's probably what I am wearing right now.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Mostly Sleeping and Taking Some Dark Photos

 Well, there has been more crashing and sleeping and resting and not doing much than there has been anything creative or productive going on here.  I may have to concede and hire cleaning help again as other than that one day where I managed to vacuum, I have not actually been able to tackle the cleaning.  A few good days have happened though, and I've been able to dress for pleasure and go to the grocery store or have lunch with my parents.  Earlier this week was election day and getting out to vote was tiring.  I had dinner with my parents that night and then rested all week so I could go out again on Friday and meet them for lunch at a café.  I slept twelve hours and woke 20 minutes before I was due to meet them.  Such an event is a reminder of the advantage to having  my closet full of things which mainly all go together and of very short hair.  Later in the day there was a lipstick event which remarkably involved my skirt and not this white sweater.

The skirt is denim blue coloured heavy-weight linen and the sweater is winter white, though as usual the photos are not particularly accurate.  Considering that in 20 minutes I showered, dressed, did hair and a very quick dab of makeup then was out the door, I think I did rather well.  I would have carried a different bag (not shown here) but there was not time for changing it.  I don't usually pair such contrasting tones as this sweater and skirt but nobody can say it doesn't go.

Last weekend I shortened and hemmed a dress, a very old dress which I've had at least 15 years. It's what we call a jumper here, and needs a layer underneath it or a jacket over it to cover the arms.  It wouldn't if it were a summer dress but since it's dark plum corduroy it does.  I wore this on election day. I have a charcoal grey thin mohair sweater under it (or a jumper under my jumper to get confusing) and a cerise-red mohair cardigan over it.  The tights are navy blue so I have four different colours but the photo makes it all look mainly black.  The boots I wore out to vote this morning are the only actual black here.  I might win an award for worst personal style blogger photos but fortunately I don't call myself a personal style blogger.

I kept trying, determined to show some colours somehow......

Later in the day I had put on different boots and had the brilliant idea to stand in the tiny sunbeam by the sliding glass door and get some close up photos.  Of course they are a bit blurry.

            The velvet beret and my jumper are the same dark plum colour.

And here I am showing off not only my grey sweater and cerise cardigan(which is not quite as bright in reality as in this photo-can't win with the colours), but also a necklace I assembled with two gold circles from inside a gold locket I inherited but don't wear.  The circles are the removable bits that clamp down the photo inside the locket.  I like the delicate shape and the combination of the gold with a silver chain .  It looks like one thicker circle here but it is actually two thin ones.

 By late afternoon there was a snag in the tights made by Miss Matty's claws.  Guess I should have left the dress as a long one for leg protection.  Or I could just spray paint my legs instead.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Getting My Head Round It

I am one of those people who save the good clothes for that special occasion which never rarely comes.  I'm trying to modify that by both keeping my wardrobe casual and by convincing myself I deserve to wear the 'good' things any day.  My definition of 'good' is often more about quality and price than the fanciness of the garment, and thus we get these black pants....

Yes, my hair is wet and yes, the wall is holding me up.  I am recovering from a horrible cold (are there any nice colds?) and this is the first in several days where I've showered and dressed and progressed towards the sunny living room.  In honour of feeling better I put on my 'good pants' which are basically 'good' because they are black, well made and cost more than fast fashion or thrift.  They also fit me well and are very comfortable.  Why should I not wear them every day give those credentials?  Since my lifestyle does not call for a little black dress, I somehow got it into my head that the substitute was black pants.  You know, for all of those casual but elegant parties I am always going to.  It's not a fear that I will be overdressed for a normal day by wearing these, it's the fear of wearing them out, of too soon rendering them not fit for one of those elegant parties and then what would I do if I received an invitation?

Sometimes I save a lot of money by being my own therapist.  Clearly I am thinking nonsense here and it's time for an attitude adjustment.  So today, a day of sitting on the sofa in the sunbeams, drinking tea and happy to be upright, I am wearing my 'good pants'.  And I am re-thinking their name.  They are good pants because they feel good and I look good.  Who doesn't want that on a daily basis?  I sure do.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Fake it Till You Make It

I am giving off the impression that I've got more energy lately.  I think perhaps I do but that always means I do more and then that is more tiring.  You know how it goes, right?  I've been able to increase what I do so I'm doing my own housework, my own shopping, I've been painting again, and cooking a little more.  I still sleep and rest a great deal and still feel constantly behind in paperwork, social commitments and I am not writing as much as I wish to.  So, normal life just like most people with some extra sleep thrown into the mix.

Do normal people trip over their dishwasher doors and go flying headlong across the kitchen and fall in a heap face down on the floor?  If so, then I've got that covered too.  And speaking of covered...oh the bruises I am sporting!  They are all yellow now and I look terrible in yellow.

So I am chipping away doing more but also less.  I enthusiastically replied to half the comments on my last blog post.  I am struggling to comment on other blogs.  Imagine me running out of things to say?  It's a kind of brain fog, not unlike the fog that is out on the bay today.

Latest endeavours.....

Books are making their way back into my living room.  In stacks and piles of course. 

A friend asked me why I have a washtub in my living room.  Or perhaps the question was meant to be why do I have one at all.  Imagine asking that?  Who doesn't want a washtub?  Yes, this is the nook that is supposed to get a book shelf.  There's no hurry.  Piles work.

The posing spot got some books too.   This is from a selection of blurry photos I achieved by crawling around on the floor.  Matty was thrilled with this adventure.

                                              Here she is, helping.

And...I got a bit of my painting mojo back by dabbing at some of my not quite finished pieces and considering them possibly, maybe finished now.

                        And hung them on the wall in my writing nook.

Then I painted a new one, which will of course have to sit around for months until I declare it a finished piece and I will periodically decide that it needs a dab of yellow here or a stoke of pink there.

I've had lots of cuddles with Matty, who is always especially happy if I am on the floor.

And I baked chocolate cupcakes  for my son's birthday, using an amazing recipe that replaces the flour with cooked quinoa.  I will share this recipe soon.  Trust me it's good.

I was asked to share the brownie recipe I used when I mentioned a few posts back having baked brownies.  Because I have to eat gluten free, I have been experimenting with brownie recipes and have not yet found one I think is worth sharing.  But for those of you who do not eat gluten free I will offer up my regular recipe which is an excellent one and very popular and not really mine.
It comes from the box of Baker's Chocolate and is reproduced here.  I have never lined my pan with foil as this recipe says.  It is definitely important not to over bake them and you can mix in anything you like-nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips-or make them without. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

How Did it Happen?

I became one of those women who drowns herself in ill fitting clothing.  It was a gradual process, as many things are and I can roughly pinpoint the beginning as post childbirth.  I don't think that's too uncommon.  My CFS/ME was not diagnosed so I was blissfully unaware of the toll pregnancy, motherhood, a child with challenges and juggling it all with a marriage and a career was going to take on my mind, body and health.  I was young, apparently healthy and had been in a remission phase long enough that what later turned out to be CFS/ME was just  thought of as a couple bouts of illness in the past.  The bliss of ignorance is all the more sweet for how it is often so short lived.

I bloated up with fluid retention practically from the moment of conception and felt ill with anything restrictive on my waist so I had a small wardrobe of borrowed clothes that were a size up from mine.  This was my first taste of the heavenly comfort of loose clothing and long before the days when women covered their baby bumps (or even called them baby bumps) with tight shirts and dresses.  Actual maternity clothes were scarce though, because pregnant women of the time seemed to just default to leggings and long tee shirts for casual days. With my height there were no leggings or tee shirts available that would actually cover all of me.  I hunted down barely attractive maternity clothing in the dark corners of neighbouring towns and assembled a meager and not terribly attractive wardrobe.   I was comfortable and that was significant.

After, when my child was born and I'd returned to within twenty pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight (I never got back to it) I still wanted looser clothing and wasn't terribly fond of anything I could feel around my waist.  My shape had changed too and my once tiny waist and small B cup bust was now a thick waist and enormous bust that required G cup nursing bras.  Who was this woman I saw in the mirror?  The answer to that was mother, wife, teacher, and there it stopped.   And that's how I dressed her.  It was the beginning of losing myself because I gave everything else priority.  It's not a new story.  I love my son more than life itself, and must insert that here right now before I go on.  This is not the story of how a child took away my body.  This is the story of how I gave it up and didn't know how to get it back.

The nineties, a time when my gamine icon Winona Ryder was on top, when I would have loved wearing Dr Martens boots with flowery dresses and was still young enough to do it, were a time I can barely remember, so immersed was I in my child and the particular local struggles of establishing a teaching career.  By the time I emerged from this blur sixteen years later, accepting the end of a marriage, a career and the fact of a chronic illness, I had lost track of what my personal style was and I still had a body I did not know how to dress because I didn't understand it's shape.  In my teens and early twenties I was a skinny pear-shape and understood the need to emphasise my top half and de-emphasise my lower half when I dressed.  I instinctively bought things that would make my shoulders appear broader, my bust a little fuller, keeping the bottom darker and unpatterned.  But I was no longer a pear shape I was more of a rectangle with breasts that got in the way, narrow shoulders, a squarish ribcage and a short neck.  I had no idea how to dress that other than to keep my necklines low.  Where I'd once had skinny arms, I now had fleshy ones.  The upside, I thought, was that the rest of my body had finally caught up with my thighs.  J-Lo happened, and I learned that I had no booty.  The problems never ended!

In the last ten years of my married life, stress, illness and other psychological factors I won't get into, put weight back on me.  I am not one of those who stops eating and gets thin when stressed, I am likely to eat.  I ate to feel numbingly full.  I ate to create a body armour of extra me layers.  I ate to feel pleasure.  I was also one of those less typical Celiacs who puts on weight instead of losing it, making diagnosis much longer in coming.  I bought an enormous orange tee shirt at the thrift shop, really good quality actually but one of my worst colours and sized to accommodate three of me, and it became my favourite thing to wear to bed.  Fast forward to my emancipation.  There were financial worries for me as a single woman, my long term health was uncertain and it became clear I was not going to be able to work, but I was still happier.  I was better able to take care of myself and the extra weight came off with effort but not too much pain.  I needed clothing but didn't want to buy new things because I expected to lose another ten pounds.  Off I went to the thrift shop and I was hooked.

There are many good things about buying second hand but for me there are also some pitfalls.

1.  Easy to spend too much money because everything seems so inexpensive.
2.  Inexpensive clothing makes it too tempting to purchase less than perfect.
3.  Experimenting is fun but also leads to some terrible outfits.
4.  Too many options can be confusing.

It was fun to experiment, it was money spent on an experience more than on objects because most of what I purchased over the next couple of years didn't stay with me.  Often I was not happy with the quality even if I was discovering a style I liked or a colour that worked well for me.  When the price tag is so low, it's easier to make excuses for what is not really good enough and I often did that with poor fit or even the wrong size.  Somehow, I got to the point where I just bought everything in extra large and said to myself, well I like baggy, loose and comfortable clothes.

It's true I do like them, but there were at least two facts I was not considering.  One is that they suit some people more than they suit me, whether it's body type or personality.  The other is that oversized is a look that can be done while still cutting the lines of the garments well and it is not quite the same to just put on the wrong size.  I lost track of what I looked like in a good fit because most things I tried on fit poorly and I decided they would do.  If I saw something I really liked in a size larger than what I wore, I would just say oh well, I'll wear it a bit big.  This might work on a tiny waif-like person who is fine looking like she is wearing someone else's too large clothes.  That is not a look I can pull off.

So I decided that I would hold out for better quality and better fit, but I found that changed my options quite drastically.  There was less available to me already given that I live in a small town, but even less when I ruled out all the sizes and shapes that did not really fit me or flatter me or feel like me.

I had an enormous purge.  I pulled all clothing out of my closet and sorted it immediately into different piles.  You probably know the drill-keep, mend, toss, donate/sell.  Assuming that I already liked the look of everything I had, to keep an item it had to fit me well, flatter me, feel comfortable, suit my lifestyle and be well made.  I am embarrassed to admit to how much I donated to charity and even the amount I took to the consignment shop to sell.  I am not on a journey to minimalism or capsule wardrobes or any arbitrary number of items, though I have read about these with interest as others explore this idea.  I do crave simplicity though and would rather have three great things in my closet than twenty mediocre things.  I am getting realistic about my lifestyle too and setting aside the complications of thinking I would dress in such and such a style if only I had access to this or that, if only I sewed, if only, if only.  That's a waste of my time and energy.  I may have loads of time but I don't have energy to spare.  More and more I look like I did when I was a university student, including the pixie cut.  I am even inclined to carry a back pack.

Life is about learning and it would be dull if I had everything all figured out, but it's nice to rest in a place of comfort for awhile, to feel like I am home and I know the woman who lives there.  I found her buried in mounds of fabric and slowly uncovered her.  She insisted on clinging to a few large sweaters but she's doing quite well with her rehab. I have high hopes for her.

                         I typically look like this these days.  Yes, I do wear a lot of blue.  A LOT of it.  Teal, denim or navy are readily available options that I gravitate towards.

                               Off to college.  Free tuition for seniors!

                           Time to do my paper route before school!

                  Awkward posing!  I don't see that changing any time soon.

               Did you return your books on time? Asks Grunge Gamine Librarian.

                           I haven't got a waist.  Do I look like I care?

 I had to choose between the more flattering pose or the smile and flattering pose won.  As usual, the colours are off and there is no black here, only navy and brown with some splashes of red and green and a brighter blue.  I'm wearing enough colour to make Senora Allnut proud.  I decided it was also a perfect day for a hat, so......

I added a navy blue fedora with a cute bow that you can't see.  

No witches in sight this week.  The witchy clothing may have gone by the wayside but I assure you I can still cast spells.  Especially if your library books are late.

I am really terrible at adding labels/tags to my posts.  Help me out-what would you tag this besides #TLDR