Friday, April 28, 2017

My Last Mother-of-the-Bride Dress, End of an Era. . . .

My daughter texted me from Rome yesterday to say "Gosh, what a nice post but particularly nice are the comments!!!! I love your readers!" A great big Thank You from both Rhiannon and me for your response to that post and for helping us celebrate her wedding day.

And since she shared her wedding dress photos with you (or at least allowed me to do that), I'll follow through with a peek at my Mother-of-the-Bride dress. I took these in my little Selfie Mirror before we headed out, knowing that without an official photographer there, no one was likely going to be aiming a camera my way.

 I found this dress in a ten-minute foray through a section of Nordstrom  on my way to meet a friend for lunch in the Nordstrom bistro. Tried it on quickly over my pants and loved it, asked the SA to hold it for me, ran to lunch -- barely late -- and went back for a better try-on after. Easiest MOTB dress find of my four, and I love it, suspect I'll wear it often (although, yes, I'd probably like another inch closer to my knees). 100% silk, by Equipment -- and did you spot the pockets?! Also, three cheers for that sleeve length!
 Accessorised with black fishnet tights as opaque black would have tended funereal. Yes, the dress itself has a black base, but I think the flowers sing spring enough for a wedding -- still, I wasn't ready to go bare-legged (oh, the white post-winter flesh! nuh-uh!). And when I went to grab a pair of sheer hose from my drawer, I realised that none of the feet would stand up to the no-shoes test: although they were clean, they bore the stains from previous wearings. So fishnets to the rescue, and I slipped into these low-heeled Repettos.
 Grabbed a little Michael Kors bag I bought for another daughter's wedding, some 7 or so years ago and scarcely wear. . .
Popped on my trusty old Smythe blazer (six years old), and then remembered to tuck Kleenex in my pockets and bag and we're out the door. . . .

Drawing up to the curb, a sleeping granddaughter in the back seat, whom should we see but these lovelies
 I have a few more snaps I'll share next week, including a favourite of my three daughters taking a selfie, but for now, I'm running out with Pater to our shared session with our Personal Trainer. While I'm gone, feel free to leave a comment. You could tell me what you're up to this weekend, for example.  . . .


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What She Wore -- Word-less Wednesday Wedding Post

It was the sweetest little wedding, and before she flew back to Italy with her family, my daughter approved a few photos I could show you. They decided not to have professional photographs taken, and although I wonder if she might someday regret that, I have to say that on the day, with the nine children under eight -- and eight of those four and under,  with one of the Littles being the bride and groom's daughter, waiting for photographs to be taken would definitely have changed the tenor of the day.

Instead, we were asked to arrive an hour before the ceremony so that we could nibble and chat and let the kids play -- and, as Raffi sings, jump their jiggles, shake their sillies, and wiggle their waggles away. Then the Marriage Commissioner arrived, we all found spots on the living-room couches,  and these two gave their daughter a legally married Mama and Papa -- and some of us teared up more than a bit. . . .
I love the barefoot bride look -- she'd have been perfect on a beach as well, but the shoeless style was in deference to house rules, the generously hosting SIL and BIL having moved back into their newly renovated home only weeks before their newborn arrived -- he was a month old at the wedding, and has twin sisters not yet two, and an older one who's four. No one wanted to make more housework for that Mom! (but oh, we all had such pretty toes ;-)

The vows over, we noshed on sushi and cupcakes and cheeses and other good things. The kids too quickly spotted the Candy and Popcorn station, but they burned off the excess sugar in the Perfect Backyard Playground where the resident Bouncy Castle had been inflated for the occasion and the Playhouse accommodated any role-playing inspired by the afternoon's event. . .

I must admit, though, I mostly stayed inside and sipped Prosecco. . .
cuddled the baby when I could. . .
and basked. . . .Wouldn't you?
There you go. . . .Coming up soon, a few more pics of the wedding guests (just the immediate families of bride and groom) -- and even a shot of the Mother of the Bride dress.  . . .


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Garden as Book: Turning the Pages of My New Urban Terrace

I love the way the weather has blasted a rust stencil into the old Doukhobor church bench I picked up years ago to celebrate having successfully passed my doctoral comprehensives. The stencil itself was bought about the same time -- I think it was intended to be hung in a garden, but instead I had it on a kitchen wall in our island home, so this is the first winter it's revealed its inherent dynamism of decay. . . Not sure what I'll do about this going forward, but for now I quite like the effect....

When we moved into our new urban condo last fall, my sadness at having left my island garden behind was somewhat assuaged by my pleasure in our city oasis, the fountain tinkling its liquid camouflage over the sounds of traffic at the busy intersection just a block away, the lush foliage and bright colours of late summer soothing our two-moves-in-one-summer jangled nerves. The garden had played a large part in convincing us to buy the condo, and although we only had a few weeks before leaving for three months in Europe, we went out that first week and bought a decent sectional -- enough to seat four or five, cosily, and a big coffee table.

We also bought weather covers, of course. We're not naive, and we were too busy, then ill, then busy, December, January, and into February, even to think about taking the covers off to sit on the terrace. But by March, after a relatively cold and miserable winter, we began anticipating an afternoon in the weak but welcome spring sunshine, albeit with a fleece blanket to cut the chill. March, however, was the rainiest March Vancouver's seen since before I was born, I believe (and that's saying something, given our situation here in what used to be a Temperate Rain Forest).

Impatient, disappointed, even occasionally disconsolate . . . . we comforted ourselves with some urban terrace bird-watching and with little forays to see what might be poking out of the ground and trying to remember what perennials must be waiting to emerge in which containers and what leaves might appear on the bare branches of shrubs we couldn't yet identify.

I posted a few photos of the shoots and blooms and the leaves just barely, grudgingly, ever-so-slowly releasing outwards from their tightly folded positions against the branches they were expected to fling themselves away from, towards the sun when it eventually made closer, longer arcs above us all. . .

And on one of those postings, a sweet friend commented that it "will be so fun watching that garden unfold like an unread book." I love this analogy! In fact, my first thought was that I should have started at the beginning of the year, or even the beginning of our life here, to write what I was reading in that book. I should have begun one of those garden journals and kept track of when the hostas first poked green snouts through their container's soil, and how many of the crocuses were blind and how many bloomed, and how long the Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes kept hanging on the plants.
 The truth is, though, that there are already too many "shoulds" in the world, aren't there, and perhaps I was simply browsing that book until I was ready to sit and read it. Almost there now 'though,  and I'm going to try to post a Garden Observation and Progress Report every week or two. I'd love to get 'round to keeping an Illustrated Garden Journal as well, but let's be realistic!

Next Garden Post, then, I'm going to try a very quick inventory of the plants, shrubs, and trees the former owners left for us, and I'll tell you about a rather significant concern we have going forward as we assess the conditions of our Rooftop/Terrace Garden (hint: that crane in the background might give you an idea). Until then, though, perhaps you'd like to tell me what you know -- or would like to know -- about gardening on a terrace in a city condo. Or about big changes you've made, voluntarily or otherwise, in your gardening life. I know that some of you may not be interested in gardening at all, but I hope that you'll continue to find enough else of worth here that you might tolerate the occasional garden chat among the rest of us.

And for those with scant interest in gardening, I've got permission to share a few photos of my daughter as a beautiful bride, so that's next up here. . . .


Friday, April 21, 2017

Writing, Gardening, Getting Fit, Making Lists. . . Spring Organising. . .

Perhaps not surprisingly, we still feel a bit tired and breathless around here. Behind the scenes, you won't know, we've spent the past couple of months with our small apartment -- pied-à-terre in the city until we moved here permanently from the island -- on the market, then sold, and now just a week until the closing date. So packing up and cleaning, making more decisions about what to keep, what to give away. And meanwhile, we have only a few more days with our newlyweds and their little one.
Despite the busy-ness, the emotional intensities, I seem to be arriving at some clarity about what I want to focus on at this stage of retirement, finally feeling somewhat settled in our new urban lifestyle. I'm making up schedules to support, accommodate, perhaps even enforce these priorities, and I'm anticipating more time with friends; more attention to my writing life; more gym time and longer running distances; and transformation of the lovely garden we were left by the previous owner into one that is truly ours, that expresses and extends our new city home.
I started a new journal yesterday with lists of tasks and an accompanying dayplanner, and one of those lists comprises topics for my next week or two of blog posts: some Short and Sweet posts about progress on our Terrace Garden; a What I Wore post on my mother-of-the-bride dress, inevitably, I suspect, accompanied by a few words about seeing our last child married; another What I Wore post gathering up a few of the outfits I've enjoyed wearing lately. Besides these shorter posts, I'm planning to write one or two more sustained pieces, one about The Continuing Waves of a Big Move/Retirement, and another about Friends(hip) Old and New. The latter will perhaps overlap, content-wise, with the former.
Not at all sure how this scheduled approach will play out, nor even why I feel I need to tell you I'm adopting it. But I guess it has something to do with working my way through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and working to accept, even represent myself as trying to "Write" without immediately following that with all kinds of qualifications (I've only ever had a few academic articles published, nothing "creative"). Part of that demands that I take my effort, my goal, seriously enough to block out time for it, even, perhaps, to think of it as Work (in the positive sense of the term).

I also think that telling you about it has something to do with the process of Retiring and Making a Big Move; the way those have affected my sense of Identity; my awareness of, and dismay over, a fair amount of floundering that you've probably registered here; and my hope that I'm setting some direction now, that it might be a direction you're interested in reading about as I move forward.
And since you're asking (yes, I can hear you ;-) I am continuing to plug away at that writing I've alluded to, and someday perhaps I'll even be able to tell you more about it. It's been on the back burner this past week or so, but I've booked a coffee-and-writing date with myself later this week.

Do you think it's Spring's onset that's spurring me on? All these leaves unfurling, blossoms opening, insisting on our trying to match the exuberant renewal and growth? . . . . Exemplifying that idea in the photos above are the leaves of a splendid and sizeable ornamental maple that was left here for us -- I've been quite mesmerised by the delicacy of its emergent foliage and couldn't resist sharing a few photos with you.

Now tell me: do you feel an urge, in the Spring, toward new projects? Or did you get all that underway at the New Year? or, as used to be more the case for me, do you save new starts for the Fall? I must admit I'm a bit apprehensive about longer, lighter days calling me outside, fine for the Running, the Gardening, the Visiting with Friends, but perhaps not so promising for establishing and maintaining some solid writing habits. Advice? Encouragement?


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Normal Blogging will Resume . . .

We had a wonderful wedding weekend (above, brother and sister on their way to the excitement, showing how Casual Glamour is done).  I'll try to roll out a few photos as the week progresses, but today has to be a catch-up day (or it would be if we didn't have a dinner reservation made weeks ago and a Physio appointment for me, ditto, and a serious need to get to a yoga class and unkink. . . . )

And thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post -- I'll do my best to respond over the next day or two.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Five Things Good Friday


We've been planting on the terrace -- dreaming of it someday being festooned with fragrant honeysuckle so that we might be constantly pestered by hummingbirdds. . . . 
1. The first thing I would have to say about Good Friday is that I will never feel entirely comfortable "being secular" on it. My Catholic background was a positive one in so many ways, with a deep and nourishing faith that goes back generations and that yes, was marred by strict rules and arcane, unrealistic notions of human sexuality and gender, but also which offered an ecclestical calendar full of practices that reassured and reinforced and worked with memory and aesthetics in powerful ways. So that for me, having left most of that behind over the last two decades or so, Good Friday is still suffused with its odd mixture of a Fasting/Fish Friday and the once-a-year excitement of my Dad's hot cross buns, which he'd begin making that morning and we'd be gobbling greedily by midday, having had a few hours to savour their sweet, spicy, yeasty fragrance as they rose and baked.... And the afternoon's answering fragrance of incense at the Veneration of the Cross. The solemnity of answering the priest's chant, "This is the Wood of the Cross," the nervous silliness as we reverently kissed the wood the purple covering had been carefully folded back to expose. My father's beautiful tenor exalting and exulting,  "Tantum Ergo" . . .

2. My dad's birthday occasionally fell on Good Friday, his birthday being April 15th. That always seemed fitting to me, as he was clearly a Good man, but I was always sympathetic that he couldn't celebrate as he deserved. His faith was such that it would never have seemed a sacrifice to him. A privilege, rather.

3. All that being true, today I will spend in secular and also celebratory fashion. At least, we're beginning it with a session with our trainer, and then later today our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter arrive for the Wedding Weekend, so all of ours will be in the same city for a change, all staying within two kilometres of each other. Tonight, we ten adults and five children will enliven a certain lucky restaurant for as long as the kids can stay relatively civilised. Before that, I hope we'll have some of the little ones running off steam at our place.

4. Tomorrow, on what would have been my dad's 90th birthday, we'll be together with my new son-in-law's family to witness and celebrate the formalising of a marriage that, in fact, has been doing well enough informally that we have a delightful granddaughter from it  (and some wonderful trips to Italy to boot). Can't wait to toast this family as they "pledge their troth" legally, and to wish them many happy years together.

5. On Sunday, my extended family gathers at my sister's where she hosts the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch -- so much crazy fun with three generations of our sprawling crew. And then on Monday, we're hosting a Brunch/Open House here to let that same Big Extended Family greet and toast our newlyweds (and check out our new digs for the first time).  Wouldn't it be great if some sunshine might appear so that we could wander out on the terrace and admire some of our new plantings (I'll post about those later, for interested gardeners and potential gardeners and vicarious gardeners)? Rhetorical question, honestly, as there seems little chance of sunshine here in the land that Apollo and his chariot seem to have forgotten. . . .

So there you have it. A busy family weekend here, and I'm unlikely to post more before next Tuesday, so let me wish you all a Happy Easter! (and whisper how odd it feels to offer that on Good Friday, when my Catholic/Christian calendar bids me meditate on the sorrow and wonder of the cross). May you find some sunshine, some chocolate, perhaps a quiet moment for meditation, even solemnity. Goodness knows the world needs some of the latter as well. . . .

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lightening the Layers, Just a Bit -- Early Spring "What I Wore"

 In the interest of offering you some content here, without my having to write many words. . . . a few What I Wore photos snapped over the last two weeks or so. I'm really tempted to delete that simpering selfie, above, but it gives the best sense of the sweater's drape, the curve of that high-low hem. I'm afraid those Fluevog loafers are entering their last days, and I wish I could find a replacement as versatile and comfortable. I bought the jeans (Denham) in London six years ago, and they're only this last year really beginning to fade noticeably -- a bit shocking, really, to think how much wear we pay to have knocked out of most of our denim. . . The sweater (which I generally have to wear over a t-shirt or other inner layer) was bought in Bordeaux, 2015, and the scarf is Club Monaco, at least three years old. I'm often happiest in outfits that comprise mainly garments and accessories I've had for a few years yet still feel current in.

 I finally dropped my (J. Crew) pea jacket off at the drycleaners -- poor thing spent much of the winter waiting on a hook by the door, supposedly for me to grab it on the way out. Even after I managed to get it to the cleaners, it took me three weeks to get 'round to picking it up! Do you do this too? I mean, really, how busy can I be?!
Perhaps as punishment for my procrastination, two days after I picked the coat up, so pleased to have had the cleaner sew a button back on for me, another button popped up. I have to say, owning two of these J. Crew peacoats (remember this turquoise one?),  that while the quality is otherwise very good for the price and the jackets do seem to wear well, I've had at least five buttons pop off between the two coats, and with very little provocation. Any sewist knows that special care needs to be taken with metal-shanked buttons -- someone should tell J. Crew!
 Otherwise, though, this is another outfit I felt good in recently, again comprised of pieces that I've been wearing for a while: my one and only Hermès scarf (a birthday gift way back here),  the peacoat, the striped T-dress I got last fall, and the Vince sneakers whose soles I've almost worn through. (Yes, replacement shoe shopping is definitely in order very soon.)

 I have done a bit of shopping lately, so it's not all old favourites. These (J Crew) boyfriend chinos caught my eye as a nice change from jeans, yet with the same ease.
 Wearing them with a navy Bompard v-neck, tissue-weight, which I bought last fall as  a replacement for the same model I'd bought five or six years ago and worn and washed to a felted frazzle. My bad.
 I'm starting to think about replacing my moto-style Mackage jacket -- it's got a few small rips now, and I notice there's a grease stain on one sleeve (and the leather on both sleeves is noticeably faded). At seven years of being worn at least twice a week through most seasons, it doesn't owe me anything, but I'm not in any rush to chuck it out.  . . It took long enough to find a fit that works for my short waist; I rather dread having to do that again. Plus I prefer a worn-in look in this style, but I want the "distressing" to be done by me, through day-to-day wear. For now, at least, this jacket stays in circulation, rips and stains notwithstanding.

Below, since I chopped off my head in the photo above. . . the state of my grey and length of my curls these days. . .
 And one last series, just to show you my new ever-so-comfortable, unquestionably fabulous, splurge sweatshirt from All Saints.
 I love the shape, the fit, the colour, the subdued neutral-toned drama of that beast. The ribbing on a sweatshirt too often says discouraging or downright nasty things about my short waist, so when I tried this on I was very tempted to get a second one (different graphic, in grey very similar cut). Thus I have earned the added bonus of feeling virtuous about my restraint in purchasing only one, even though I fired up my charge card....
 Again, Vince sneakers, Denham jeans, all the tried and true. . . .

And to head out into the day's rain (because honestly, that seems a constant lately),  a two-year-old trenchcoat and a silk organza scarf I bought on that  trip to Paris with my sister a few years ago. You might note that I've tried a different cuff on my jeans here -- I rather like it, and it's simpler to achieve than the roll in the photo above.
The outfit above got me to a local café yesterday where I hunkered down at a table and wrote enough words for my own writing project to get it back on its funny little track after almost two weeks of being shunted to a holding yard. I didn't really need to "dress up" for that, obviously, nor, if I'm honest, for much of what I do these days, but I like a bit of polish to my casual, I guess. What about you? What activities are you dressing for these days? Work? Play? Baby-sitting the grandkids? Milking the cows? (okay, that was a wild card, but who knows!) First day at grad school? A presentation to your local municipal council? Grocery shopping? Looking for a gallery or local restaurant to display your artwork?

And are you gravitating to wardrobe stalwarts of some longstanding? Or are you liking the lift of the new? A mix of the two? Do tell.  Never mind those young men with their thoughts of love; in Spring, what does a Woman of a Certain Age's "fancy turn to thoughts of"? (or, if you're in the other hemisphere, at the other transitional season, feel free to substitute Fall for Spring).


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