Friday, August 26, 2016

Five Things Late Friday, Heading into the Weekend. . .

It's been a while since I've posted a Five Things Friday, but I have a few small pleasures to share and/or recommend:

1. The Lady in the Van magically appeared in my Netflix recommendations last week. Suspicious that it might disappear from the line-up just as quickly, we watched it immediately. What a gem! Maggie Smith is wonderful in this role, a considerable departure in many ways from her Downton Abbey Dowager, although both share intelligence and irascibility in equal measure. I also very much enjoyed the depiction of playwright/memoirist/writer Alan Bennett as a split Writer/Written persona, and I'm wondering why it's taken so long to add Bennett's works to my reading list. . .

2. I'm delighting in David Coggins' charming, whimsical, illustrated memoir, Paris in Winter, alternatingly erudite and sensual, sure to trigger happy recognition for those who have visited the city and inspire future trips for those who haven't yet had that good fortune. When this title first came to my attention, the book already seemed to be sold out whenever I tried ordering it online. Fortunately, however, one of my favourite brick-and-mortar bookstores, Munro's in Victoria, BC, had a copy on the shelf when we were there a few weeks ago. This is one to savour and return to. I hope you can get your hands on a copy. Just lovely.

And in case you don't follow me on Instagram, I posted about another very satisfying book a couple of weeks ago

 3. Also on Netflix recently, we caught up with missed episodes on The Chef's Table, stirring up both appetites and wanderlust, plus copious admiration for those who bring such commitment and discipline and intelligence to their creative careers. We're also all caught up with The Bridge's third season and now will have to wait patiently to find out what Saga gets up to in the fourth season, which may well be the last. This is not a series for those who can't handle graphic violence and gore, and if you get impatient with overly intricate plots and long narrative arcs, you might decide to tune out. But the gradual development of the obviously damaged, probably autistic Saga's character and of the relationships she forms, step by careful step. . . so delicately, often painfully, always nearly beautifully handled, I think.  The show's creator and writer, Hans Rosenfeldt, is also responsible for Netflix's Marcella, which we gobbled down. Here, the over-plotting is even clumsier, I'd say, and there are red herrings that never get thrown back into the sea, so to speak. . . Still satisfying, though, and we'll watch for the second series appearing eventually.

Right now, we're watching Wentworth, and I must say, this is a guilty pleasure that it's easy to surfeit on. Not sure I'd recommend it, but I must say it's addictive. You'll feel manipulated, I suspect, so don't say I didn't warn you.

4. A much sweeter viewing possibility, much more innocent, I guess, but so much fun, is the Meryl Streep-Hugh Grant-- Simon Helberg movie, Florence Foster Jenkins. Honestly, I think Pater was a bit skeptical about seeing this, based on the trailer we've seen a few times recently. But I'm a Meryl Streep and a Hugh Grant fan, and Pater's a very accommodating husband. His reward? The film itself, which he enjoyed just as much as I did. It's based on a true story of a wealthy New York socialite who generously funded the city's classical music culture and then decided she would perform at Carnegie Hall, no one willing to tell her how badly off-pitch she sang.

It's clear from that quick plot summary how wrong this could have gone, but the tenderness between Streep's wealthy singer and her husband, played by Grant, was credible and moving, tempted as we were initially to write him off as an exploitative cheater. Beyond the tenderness of their relationship, though, is the light-handed playing of the situation's comedy -- with the most brilliant "face-acting" I've seen in a long time. Simon Helberg is an astonishingly accomplished match in this to the more established Streep and Grant. Between them, a hilarious symphony of eye-widening and lip-tightening, and nostril-flaring, cheek muscles twitching just enough to express anxiety, eyebrows arching in incredulity. . . Okay, I've said enough. Put this one on your list; you won't regret it!

5. And this one you'll only get if, like me, you struggle to speak another language. We've found a splendidly compatible new tutor and have been having 90-minute conversations with her at a coffee shop once or twice a week. During one of which conversations, I confidently and happily surprised myself and my interlocutors (big fancy word for the other two peeps at my table) by describing someone as being vachement honnête, after some mental thrashing around for the equivalent to the English "forthright," spoken with the tone used in speaking of someone who's more honest than we really want at the moment. Not the kind of French you'd learn in any textbook, but after a split-second of surprise, Z nodded her understanding and approval of my expression. (If you know I made an error in using this expression, maybe wait an hour or two before bursting my bubble ;-)

That's a lot of sitting I've encompassed with my Five Things, isn't it? Don't worry, though. We're off on our bikes right now to get me fitted for a new pair of runners. Tomorrow I've been invited to join my daughters at their yoga class -- I'm excited about that as the studio's in our new neighbourhood, and I'm way overdue for a good yoga class (it's been almost three months! Eeeek!). Tomorrow night we're taking the seven-year-old and the coming-up-to-four granddaughters to some live theatre followed by a sleepover -- can't wait!

And you? Weekend plans? Reading, movies, sitting, moving, fast, slow, quiet, noisy, alone, with a crowd? What are you up to between now and Monday morning? Whatever it is, I wish you the best Saturday and Sunday possible.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cycling Gear for an Anniversary in the City . . .


Thought you might be interested in knowing what one wears to celebrate a 42nd anniversary à vélo -- for me, on a warm day, it's lasts year's olive linen-cotton skirt and a just-bought "art T-shirt" which seemed appropriate for visiting Burnaby Lake and its occupants (both skirt and T are J Crew). The Sperry deck shoes are a concession to bike safety, in comparison to my preferred summer footwear, Birkenstocks.
Isn't this wonderful? I love this kind of "found art," this poetic invitation to see what how much of Nature can be found in city life if we look beyond the power poles, if we choose to pause in the shade (or bike to the lake)
I won't pretend that I don't miss the immediate and everyday access we had to the natural world from our waterfront island home, especially during the summer heat when I would have been swimming two or three times a day in the ocean, then paddling the kayak 'round the island in the evening. But life is full of trade-offs, and with a bit of effort, we're drawing personal maps of the city that boast a surprising wealth of wilder landscapes and of cultivated but nevertheless green and soothing spots.  Finding wood ducks in surprising numbers at Burnaby Lake was a delight, for example -- wish I could show you a better photo, but the sun was intense, beaming from the left high above this photo, and my iPhone was really no match for it, nor was there much room to change position (not without very high boots!)



Thanks so much for all your kind anniversary wishes! I'm granting myself permission to respond collectively here, having just barely caught up to responding to comments on my "Badass" post. I love the conversation we've been having about this, and hosting a forum for the community here is a wonderful privilege. I'm trying to figure out, though, how to keep it sustainable. I've been paying a bit more attention to how much time I spend responding to comments, and it's generally the equivalent of writing another substantive post. I'm not prepared to relinquish this joyful task, but I know that I need to figure out ways to manage it before I extinguish my interest and my energies.  I have a few strategies in mind, and I'll perhaps write more about them soon -- or just experiment here and there until I find out what works for keeping you engaged and me healthy and content.

Oh, and before I go, in case you've been wondering. . . one more week until Completion Date for our new condo purchase and less than two weeks until move-in. Yes! We're excited! Can't wait to show you our new terrace "garden in the sky" (it's not really in the sky, being only a few floors up, but we're not sticklers for detail here, are we?)



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

42 years and counting. . . Marriage Longevity in progress. . .

I'm slowly doing my best to respond to all the comments on my last post, but today is mine and Pater's 42nd wedding anniversary, so we're heading off on our bikes for the day.  We're both fortunate to come from parents who enjoyed long, working marriages, mostly happy ones. My mom and dad never made it to their 48th anniversary (my dad died shortly before that), but Paul's parents celebrated their 60th with all of us, and had a few years together after that.

I don't think we could have imagined, on that sunny August day 42 years ago, at 21 and 23 (photo of the baby bride and groom in this post, if you're interested) respectively, our older selves so closely approaching the length of my parents' 48-year marriage, but now we're within easy striking distance of that, and it's quite possible we'll manage the marriage longevity of his folks. Luck and commitment and determination and perseverance, if you were to ask for secrets that make it work. Love, of course, but so many couples begin with love and many even part still loving each other. A sense of humour. For us, shared values as well as a willingness and ability to compromise. Honesty, fidelity, trust. Sharing activities but allowing each to have, also, separate pursuits and friendships. A willingness to accept temporary discontent, a wisdom (learned, gradually) to recognise that one is unlikely to be happy all the time. An ability to love a stubborn or angry or depressed partner just as much as an ebullient, nurturing, generous one -- for better or for worse, right?

There's no secret, in other words. But there is constant shifting and adjustment and adaptation and flexibility -- and a sense of wonder at how you're changing, individually, but also in tandem, and yet remaining recognisably the same, river-like perhaps, or like a deeply rooted, ever-growing tree. And luck. I always come back to that. At 21, I don't know that I thought long or hard or wisely about my choice of partner, and we committed to spending our lives together after dating for fewer than three months, were engaged by six months, married in less than a year.

Luck, that is, and what we each brought to the marriage in terms of our individual genetics, personalities, family backgrounds, education, and experience, such as those could be at such a young age. So that I hesitate ever to give advice about what makes a marriage work or even whether keeping it working is good for either or both of the partners in it.  Unquestionably, both of us abandoned or rejected other possibilities at various times of our lives to become and to remain married; individual sacrifices were made along the way; it hasn't always been easy. Yet I continue to believe that my marriage has been the central nourishing and supporting element in my adult life, so far (as a mostly lapsed Catholic, I might even say it has been the Sacrament, conferring Grace, it was consecrated as 42 years ago) but I would only recommend marriage to anyone else with some serious provisos.

There's no doubt at all, though, that I'm celebrating our 42 years together as an achievement and as a continuing joy. The plan at the moment is to pedal through the glorious August weather to various favourite spots in the city, stopping along the way for our breakfast, lunch, and, depending on how the quads and hamstrings hold up, maybe even grabbing our dinner on the way home. There will be no candlelit tables in romantic restaurants, but my undeniably ageing, yet still good-looking, Groom, brought home a bundle of sunflowers and another of fragrant lilies last night.

So off we pedal, steadily and happily, into our 43rd year together. . .

(and in case any of you wondered about my daughter's family in Italy, they slept right through the earthquake, never felt a thing. We're hugely relieved, of course, but so sorry for all those whose lives have been devastated.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I Might Not be Badass, but I Conquered that Trail!

I'm wearing my bright yellow Vancouver Marathon t-shirt, channelling my Inner Strong Woman and perhaps hoping to signal my position to bears and cougars so that I don't surprise them.
My post evaluating my potential for badassery seems to have strike a nerve. More accurately, of course, my complaint concerned the term's trendiness, the reduction of its transgressive possibilities to physical toughness and a disregard for social niceties, and -- especially -- for its supposedly binary oppositions to "princess" behaviour (substitute Wimp or Weakling for other nouns at that end of the binary ruler).
Pater's posing by a huge, ancient stump, logged many decades ago. . . 

Since posting my complaint, I've been thinking more about it, inspired and fuelled by the energy of your responses. Honestly, I worry that I've painted myself into a corner a bit -- tends to happen with rants, don't you find? -- and I thought I'd worry away a bit more at the word's potential, with the plentiful diversion of these photos taken on a hike Pater and I took up a mountain last week.   In fact, I might even use the photos of our climb up the Sea to Summit Hiking Trail (near Squamish, BC, about an hour's drive from our Vancouver apartment) to illustrate my thinking.

The gondola passed over the hiking trail in a few places -- you can see the slope's steepness by following those cable lines.
First of all, I was pleased to see how many of you similarly deplore what seems to be a reductively Either/Or classification. But I was also pleased that some of you spoke up to defend the value of "snot rockets" (just because I can't/haven't yet blown one doesn't mean I condemn those who did -- they are undeniably a practical solution to a common running problem and can be executed with consideration for those downwind).

Another indication of the trail's steepness -- this was a brief descent as we worked our way around a bluff. The trail squeezes between those trees, feet having to find purchase from rock to rock, knees following in protest. . . 
I was also pleased that some of you pointed out the positive uses of the word "Badass," the way it opens up social space for women. Yes, I think there are adjectives and nouns that might do this with more nuance and precision, ones that are less dangerously likely to skew to caricature and that don't have the undeniable roots in macho, masculinist culture. But it's true that the term has, fairly quickly, aggressively even, loaded up admiration for tough women, even though I'd argue that it may have narrowed understandings of toughness.

A deceptively tranquil pool between waterfalls -- danger lurks in the temptation to clamber across those rocks. Hikers and dogs have been known to slip and fall -- the next photo suggests why that is best avoided. . . 
If I have to "come clean" on what really bugs me about the term is that, for me at least, there's a coercive energy associated with it. The voice of my old P.E. teacher, the bane of my elementary school years, echoed loudly in the post I quoted from, the one asking "Are you a Warrior (Badass) or Are you a Princess?" It's the bullying implicit in that kind of question that I can't tolerate, the boot-camp approach. If I am what you crudely label as "a Princess" and if what you're trying to achieve is to turn me into a Warrior, there are so many better ways to do that than to shame me.

It's very true that I am somewhat fearful about heights and about the possibility of falling (cycling downhill is often harder for my hands, gripping the brakes, than going uphill was on my quads and hamstrings!). Hiking, I notice scats on the trail and wonder if they're from a bear, and if so, where might she be. I worry about what we'll do if I can't manage the "steep and challenging sections" the website warns of, particularly given that it also warns that "downhill travel" is "not recommended." And what about those sections with "fixed lines required to assist you"? Will I be able to get through those or will Pater somehow have to get help to get me of the mountain -- or leave me there to freeze or be eaten by bears overnight?

This bluff terrified me in its steepness -- falling off it would require calling in rescue teams, helicopters . . . and Pater always seems far too comfortable near what I think of as its edge and he insists is metres from. . . 
Not very badass, right? I wish, how I wish, I were like my friends who look on those challenges as exhilarating, as part of the fun. Or those who scarcely recognise them as challenges, merely enjoying the demanding physical workout they know they're strong enough to sustain.

Me, moving with some trepidation to pose closer to the edge than I'm comfortable...
But my fears and my strength came to the mountain together last week, and luckily, my husband knows of both. He made it his mission to encourage me, step by step, and I was as impressed my his efforts as I was by my eventual success. Whereas I followed him up the trail when we hiked the Grouse Grind a few weeks ago, he had me lead the way for this climb. Setting the pace this way not only helped me preserve energy, but it also gave me confidence as I began to see that I was managing to find hand and footholds on my own.  Sometimes, it's true, I was tempted to violence (only tempted, I assure you) by his fairly constant mantra of "Look at you -- you're doing so well" and the repeated "Yes, you can, you're stronger than you think" and especially by "You've run a marathon; Of course you can get up this trail." -- The latter made me want to protest, loudly, that the marathon-running happened two years ago and that, hey, by the way, that wasn't on a steep mountainside that I could seriously injure myself falling off (did I mention that the advice provided about the trail warned against cliff edges?). Sometimes the sweet encouragement felt like a silencing of my fears, a denial, a bullying me up the mountain, even.

It also, though, breathed life into the tiny fire of conviction that was beginning to whisper inside me, a little secret I dared to think, a "Wow! Look at me! I'm climbing this fairly difficult, steep trail, and I'm kinda awesome" . . .

And if the recent bandying about of the word "Badass" to signal strong women might have had anything to do with that, then I would concede that it's good to have examples that push us to aspire beyond what we see as our natural limitations. But personally, I'd rather be encouraged and supported to tap into my strength and resilience and persistence and endurance. And I'd prefer that encouragement and support to come with healthy dollops of respect for my fears.

That was the approach that got this Fearful Climber to the top last week, exultant and tired. Pater was right: I could do it!

Now about that way-too-steep Gondola ride back down!

This photo was taken from inside the gondola car, swinging above the mountain as we swooped down the slope. . .I refused to let my fear of heights stop me from enjoying this view
So I have a few questions for you if you haven't already had enough of this discussion. I can see that you might be surprised I'm second-guessing my initial rant, but I often do this in my daily life, and often did it in the classroom. Talking or writing about an issue helps me see what I think about it, but it also opens up complications in my position. Integrity and intellectual rigour, it seems to me, demand I acknowledge the complications, even if that might make me look indecisive. I sometimes regret the way blogs can appear to wrap up a topic, to move on to the next question, just as our thoughts begin to coalesce, our positions reveal their weaknesses or strengths or interesting contradictions.

In that spirit, then, a few questions for you: Despite not considering yourself a Badass (substitute Brave/Tough/Fearless, whatever), what have you been Intrepid or Resolute or Persistent enough to achieve, against your own conviction of personal limitations? And did that happen through another's encouragement and support? Or how about this for those who might be considered Badasses? Do you find the term confining? Would you sometimes prefer to be allowed to speak your fears or your weaknesses? And can anyone make a convincing argument for the more exhortatory kind of leadership, a Bootcamp approach, rather than the gentler encouragement that works better for me?

Meanwhile, it's a beautifully sunny Sunday morning here, summer having finally arrived and settled into Vancouver. . . I'll post this now, but I hope you're all out making the most of a summer weekend (except for my antipodean readers who I will wish a pleasant winter weekend instead). Perhaps you'll find time to read and think and climb the mountain with me tomorrow. Sometimes Monday morning is mountain enough, right?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

BadAss to the Core? Um, Not Me, Sorry . . .

What if I come in to (blog) work part-time in the next week or two, just to ease my way back after my vacation (yes, still speaking metaphorically here)?  The break is/was more necessary than I'd realised, and I'm happy to be loosening my relationship with the iPhone camera,  relinquishing my blogger's habit of seeing post-illustrating photographic possibilities everywhere, of shaping personal anecdotes and quotidian activities into latent paragraphs as I walked.  I'm not keen to step right back into those ways yet. I can see that if I want to keep blogging -- and I do -- I need to find some protective patterns for a viable relationship between the life I'm living and the life I'm writing. Pre-retirement, my work imposed a structure that, arguably, kept the blog in its place. A year into that retirement, I've got some sorting to do about where and what that place is. Work in progress. . . .

But I'm beginning to feel an urge to post again, and I'm missing you, an audience of readers, dare I say friends, with whom to share ideas or observations or photos. Some of that urge has been channelled toward writing a few posts which I'll publish over the next couple of weeks. But some of it wants a more immediate outlet. Sometimes the urge is spontaneous and it demands some immediate venting. The topic is usually fleeting and superficial, and I want to know what you think Now, while I'm still reacting myself.

For example. . . .

My current pet peeve. This word "badass" in its newly claimed feminist dimensions. Have you heard it? read it? It seems to be especially prominent at this Olympic moment, when every female athlete worth her salt is lauded for the quality. It's been around for a while, though. I started noticing it a couple of years ago, and I didn't mind it too much at first. I'm happy enough to applaud women who take on tough, mostly physical, challenges or who sport fearless or courageous attitudes, who take on political or social or economic establishments and "speak truth to power." But what started to creep in and make me feel, at first, uncomfortable, and then impatient, and finally just annoyed, was a tendency to oppose "being a badass" with "being a princess." A neighbour of mine, an otherwise very inspiring 60-year-old fitness enthusiast and mentor, first drew this unfortunate binary to my attention in a post she wrote which asked "Are you a warrior or a princess?" In the post, she used the term "badass" as interchangeable with "warrior": both badasses and warriors would run through deep puddles, unafraid of mud; they would ignore signs declaring trails unsafe in favour of exploring at will; they would, definitively, be willing to "blow snot rockets," rather than using a kleenex they had daintily tucked into their pocket like the loser princesses who shared the trail with them.

Seriously.

I could not spit on the ground, in public or private, or blow a "snot rocket," to save my life. My granddaughter's life, just maybe, but I'd need some serious coaching and practice first. And I really can't imagine any advantage this might provide over my Kleenex which, you know, doesn't demand all that much space in my pocket.

So yeah, guilty as charged: I'm a princess. Not keen on wandering up the trail along the crumbly cliff either. Don't like to risk getting lost by "exploring" a new trail on my own. Take absolutely forever to talk myself into getting the bike outside by myself and riding it, solo, through the city streets (Finally did that, though, and that post is written, will be up here soon).  I'm not at all confident about my athletic abilities, thanks to a long-ago P.E. teacher tyrant, and would never call myself an athlete, much less a badass, even though I ran a marathon two years ago and eighteen kilometres last Sunday, aged 63. . . . So to have a fellow runner, a feminist peer, a woman of my own certain age, denigrate my running achievements, such as they are, because I skew to careful. . . that just seems so unhelpful and, frankly, discouraging.

But it's not just athleticism and/or physical boldness I'm talking about when I object to this word "badass," to the supposed opposition between a Warrior attitude and a Princess's. What bothers me is a readiness to applaud one kind of woman at the expense of another. Yesterday, when I'd returned from a delightful few hours with my three-year-old granddaughter, sauntering through her neighbourhood, sniffing and naming garden flowers, playing in the waterpark and on the swings, eating waffles on the patio of a cafe, I checked out Facebook, as you do. A friend was celebrating her 60th birthday while on a motorcycle road trip through some impressively wild and remote terrain, and another friend congratulated her on her "badassery." Not that I want to be congratulated for hanging with the grandkids, but there's something that seems far from feminist in the rendering invisible or blandly pleasant, uninteresting, innocuous of the domestic quotidian of so many lives.  And it's supremely wearying, honestly, to think that yet more bars are being raised, more standards of judgment on how cool we're managing to be post 60. . .

Pater and I are heading out to a French lesson in a few minutes -- we're trying out a new tutor, readying ourselves for some travel this fall. I'm not sure if a French lesson counts as Princess or Badass/Warrior territory -- I can't see why it would be useful at all to think in those terms, and I think the terms themselves are revealed as clearly problematic when we try to apply them here, especially when trying to describe my husband's role. Surely feminists should be broadening roles, not trying to define them more tightly, not applauding one at the expense of another. What say you?

If you're interested in reading a bit more about the recent use of this term and its feminist implications, this article and this one offer a more sustained thinking-through than my short rant here. I'd love to hear what you think on the topic. Are you a BadAss Princess? Or just a Princess? Or a Nana BadAss?  Does your Badass self need some Princess Pampering regularly?  Or, like me, would you like to ditch the labels and ditch them NOW?


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Morning Eye Candy -- Public Art in Vancouver, Two Works


 Still on a blogging break, but thought I'd share a few photos with you as I explore Vancouver during our "Staycation."  Although we know the city fairly well, there's plenty more to discover. For example, I decided I need to add a few new running routes to my routine for variety, and while looping through the Coal Harbour neighbourhood, I found this brilliant installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Titled F Grass, the work is surprisingly lyrical for something made of iron, something depicting such an everyday, resilient, underfoot plant. Like his amazing Sunflower Seeds, which Pater and I were lucky enough to see a few years ago in London, this contribution to Vancouver's Biennale 2014 is both beautiful and subversive -- politically sly, perhaps -- a work of conceptual art.
Because I'm on a blogging break,  I won't say more about this, but I'll refer you instead to Vancouver Biennale's page about it. The page features information about Weiwei,  his overall ouevre, the work itself, and also offers some great photographs of it from a much better aerial vantage and including its setting in the harbour. There are a couple of videos well worth watching as well.
 Not much further along on this running route, I passed another contribution to the 2014 Vancouver Biennale, Columbian sculptor Luis Fernando Pelaez's Home by the Sea. Again, you can read more about this work and the artist here.
I will just say that this might be the most poetic use of sheet metal I will ever come across . . .
It's beautifully sited on an expanse of parkland near the water, with the busy downtown just behind. . . .so many intersections here, so many margins.
I'm putting my mic away now and letting the sculpture speak for itself. It does so much more eloquently on site than it does in my photographs -- I wish you could see it up close yourself. . .

 and
 and
 and
 and
There you go. . . . I hope you enjoyed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Sunglasses -- and a teeny Break from my Blog Break

 Just popping my head in to empty my suitcase, do a load of laundry, and pack up again for another week or two away (okay, that's all really just metaphorical, extending my little fiction that you're all chatting on my porch while I'm off on vacay -- in reality, we're still here in our transitional apartment in the city, and my vacation is really just a blogging break, but play along, please?).

While I'm here, I thought I'd show you my new sunglasses -- finally took the plunge and for the first time ever, I now have a pair of Prescription Sunglasses, so much better than having to wear my contacts every sunny day just so that I can wear sunnies.  I'm thrilled with the choice of these Face à Face frames, grateful to the good people at Eyes on Burrard for helping me make it (no, sadly, I reap absolutely no benefit from saying that, but they deserve a nod even if I don't get a discount).

Worth mentioning, perhaps, to those of you following my journey to grey hair, this photo shows a length approaching what I initially hoped for when I decided to chop and see what colour my hair had really gotten to. And that colour (which shows much more grey in different light) is all mine, except for highlights which were added two trims, or about three months, ago -- the plan is to add new highlights six weeks from now.
 And while I'm sharing Selfies, here's a (yes, way too dark) photo of an OOTD I wore and liked recently (the floaty silk All Saints dress -- seen here worn with bare legs and boots -- worn over my white jeans with grey-denim loafers) enough to have tried sketching it.
This was a fun new project for me, and I thought I'd share it with you and let you see the photographic version for comparison.  It's pretty clear I don't have a future in fashion illustration, but I'm not sure you can tell how much fun it was to doodle this onto the page. . .While I'm waiting for the laundry to dry, I'm going to load up another post with some of the sketching and painting I've been playing at on my break.


Confession that won't surprise you: I'm supposed to be taking a blogging break, but I've been reading your comments and it's so tough not to join the conversation. Regarding the Anne Berest quotation on the influence of friends vs. that of lovers or spouses, for example. . . I'll save my thoughts for a quick post after my break, but . . . I do wish the quotation hadn't leaned in such a gendered and binary direction (what about my lesbian readers, for example? Surely, there are at least a few here, unless my online community is quite different from my IRL one).  And what about male friends? And does the writer's relative youth  and relationship/marital status (she's 34 at time of writing, and not too long out of a break-up with the father of her child) mean that her opinion may change drastically with time? Or is it patronising (matronising?) of me to suggest?

See what I mean? It's hard for me to take this break, and popping back home to empty the luggage and pack again was risky. What's that? Someone's filled my new case for me and is pushing me toward the door? You're insisting I leave, that I take the full break I promised myself? But, but, but . . . No, I know you're right, I'll be a better blogger after some downtime, and really, I'm not far away, and I'll be back before too long. Before I go again, though, can I just say that Susan Burpee's comment on my last post put a huge smile on my vacationing face: "Mater's blog," she said, "the place where everything and everyone intersect." The best compliment, right?! Thanks Sue! And no wonder I'm in a hurry to get back here. . . ;-)

I'm gone now, though, but you can keep chatting -- the front porch is all yours. I've got posts scheduled to pop up over the next while until I'm back, and it's pretty obvious I'm reading all your comments, although I'm going to continue to resist responding to them during the break. See you soon.

Yikes! I'm back again, but just pretend I'm not here EXCEPT that you need to know about Elizabeth's marvellous post over at Welsh Hills Again: The Year of Being Sixty-Two. It's beautifully written, captures much of what so many of us are thinking or going through, and the conversation building up there is promising to be very rich.
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