Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas . . .

Such a good weekend despite my cold (which finally seems to be weakening its hold). Last night, we took the boat to town to attend a 50th birthday celebration for a friend/colleague. Although I knew I might be one of the few to really dress up, I also knew that my friend and her partner were really going all out on the food and that they had done some special holiday decorating. So I decided not to worry about the possibility of over-dressing, and I wore the same dress I wore to the opera, although I wore it with my Fluevog ankle boots and chose different jewelry (red glass drop earrings and a quirky vintage leather poinsettia brooch).

Although I knew as soon as I walked in that I was more "dressed-up" than any other guest (most wore pants and "holiday-ish" sweaters), I felt very comfortable, mainly because the house itself was so beautifully decorated. A visiting friend of "the birthday girl" decorates for a living, mainly for big events, and his gift to her was a spectacular 50 white orchid stems, each in their own clear bud vase -- they filled the entry way setting the tone for a magically festive room. And my friend's partner must have cooked for days to prepare for us: wonderful canap├ęs, many served on ceramic spoons which added to the sense of fun, of being treated as special guests. It was easy to feel that rather than over-dressing I was merely adding another festive note to a special evening.


And it was special. It was my first Christmas event of the season, a great mixture of colleagues, new friends, good "old" friends, and the conversations were lively and genuine -- the invitation was for 5-9 p.m., so I was shocked to look at my watch and realize it was 10!! Our hosts didn't seem ready for us to leave, though, and so the last 8 or 10 of us settled in for more fun. Someone talked me into playing Christmas carols on the piano -- a bit embarassing as I haven't practised for, well, years, but I've always been a strong sight-reader (although, wow!, besides the hands getting older, the sight is rapidly going downhill as well!!), and it was a pretty tolerant room -- some sang along, some carried on their conversations, and eventually we all moved back to continue chatting, learning some surprising new information about a few old friends. It was almost 1 when Pater and I headed out, and that's a rare time for me to be up anymore.

Of course, staying out late has its costs when you live on a tiny island where the ferry stops at 10 p.m. Luckily, we have our own boat, but even so, a late-night ride in the winter inevitably means dealing with low tides (so steep ramps) and icy, slippery docks. And cold! Our very skookum welded aluminium boat has a canopied console, but it's not heated, and I was really glad I'd had the foresight to bring a fleece blanket for cuddling. Still, as much as I grumble about it all, it's pretty romantic heading across, especially if it's a calm night and the lights from the city are reflected in the dark water. Biking across the island in the dark is not nearly as romantic, but it definitely makes home more welcome and cozy.

At the party, other guests asked me, as people often do, how I can manage biking and boating with heels and dressy clothes. You know, it's really not that big a deal, as the Europeans seem to prove regularly. Indeed, I find biking with heels easier than walking in them! Long coats or skirts pose the biggest problems, trying to make sure they don't get caught in the chain, but so far I've been lucky. Some day, we may decide to get a golf cart like so many of our neighbours, but meanwhile, the bike works fairly well, works, in a way, to help me "keep it real." After all, I figure if my outfit can survive my transportation challenges, I'm probably not overdressed for the party at all!

One last note about what I wore last night. Because it was quite cold, and because my dress has a tricky shape for a fitted coat, I dug out my Linda Lundstrom (coincidentally the same Canadian designer that produced my opera dress) LaParka, almost identical to the one below (I found this picture in an on-line Classifieds ad). I rarely wear mine with the windproof shell you see below, preferring the felted-wool inside layer on its own, but I love the glam and warmth of the (fake) fur around my face and sleeves -- the fur on mine is a rich blue, more fun than the black in the photo. And on me, the coat falls between calf and ankle so my legs are as warm as if I were swaddled in a big blanket, so cozy! When I bought this coat 15+ years ago, at $800 it was (and probably still is) the most expensive piece of clothing I'd ever bought. But considering that I've found these on sale, second-hand at $250-475 depending on their condition, and considering that I still wear mine whenever it gets cold enough, usually several times a year, it's been money well spent.

Frosty cold enough to wear big coats, parties marked by carolling and festive lights, I'm almost ready to finish up my marking and get out there shopping and wrapping and baking, maybe even host a festive evening or two . . . after all, 'tis the season . . .

13 comments:

  1. So lovely. What a wonderful image, the two of you in the boat, riding your bikes, the earlier singing, the orchids. In a movie it would be such a great scene. I hope it was just as lovely in real life.

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  2. That coat looks and sounds divine. I do love the sound of your nocturne sojourn across the water, very beautiful.

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  3. ok, so how do you get a life jacket on over that coat?! :0) I got a Linda Lundstrom La Parka the first year in Canada - winter white, but the shorter length (couldn't afford the long one). It served me well for many years.

    We went to our first Christmas party on Saturday too - the hostess put me to shame, the house was COVERED in Christmas decor and I don't even have our tree up yet! The big draw was moose milk -do you know it? I think it's a military tradition - ice cream and various alcoholic beverages. It looks like a vanilla milk shake... but beware! Patricia

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  4. That party sounds lovely, and so does the coat.

    I'm so envious that you can sight read; that's one musical skill that totally eludes me.

    Next time I visit Vancouver, I definitely want to check out that Lundstrom boutique!

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  5. Oh it sounds so lovely, even the sojourn across the water, definitely like a scene from a movie.

    That coat sounds wonderfully warm and I am becoming more and more intrigued by your Canadian designers.

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  6. What a beautiful night! And so what if you were a bit overdressed? Much better than underdressed or dressed in one of those hideous holiday sweaters.
    Years ago I used to get around in a little Italian motorcycle, and I always wore heels. I did get some strange looks, come to think of it.

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  7. The simplicity of your dress (which I saw 'in person' recently) saves it from overdressing, certainly with a leather brooch! Could even see it over footless tights or slinky pants and tall boots. I love it when people dress up for a party; it matches my (considerable) effort in hosting and adds to the sparkle of the evening.

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  8. I just love it. How many people can say: "I took the boat to town?"

    Is it really, really true? We'll be drinking wine together in Paris in 2010? Can't wait.

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  9. LPC: The trouble with movies is they don't show cold convincingly, and I'm glancing a bit too quickly over that cold. It was a lovely night, nonetheless . . .
    IndieAl: I have to admit I've painted the scene with a big romantic brush, leaving out some of the cold and the clambering over other boats at night . . .
    Patricia: When I bought mine, I still had four school-age kids and the coat seemed a far-too-expensive extravagance but it has earned its keep.
    Don't know Moose Milk, but I tend not to drink many mixed drinks other than the odd gin martini. We haven't decorated at all yet either, except for the portable decoration, i.e. clothes and sparkly accessories!
    Pseu: I'm lucky with the sight-reading, altho' my Conservatory training boosted the luck. As for the LL, I'm not sure how much you'd like it or how to characterize much of it. It's an odd coincidence that I wore the only two pieces I have, bought 15+ years apart. Much of it is not me at all. The quality's there though, for sure.
    Mardel: See above, re Lundstrom. The company's been recently reborn -- she achieved her earlier success on the strength of her updated, fashion-savvy version of the classic Inuit felted-wool, fur-trimmed parkas.
    Angie: I like that image of you zipping around on your motorcycle wearing your heels!
    Duchesse: When I decided to dress up and not worry about what others would do, I admit I was thinking of something you once said about preparing for a party and appreciating guests who honoured that effort by dressing up.
    As for the dress, I wondered if you'd spot it at some point -- and yes, I think one of these times I'll wear it with tights -- it's so glam and comfy at the same time. I love it!
    Tish: Let the countdown begin . . .

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  10. All sounds just wonderful ... I have severe Northern Hemisphere envy right now.

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  11. So glad to hear you have a nice, warm coat for the cold weather. We have had c.-18°C for a few days now and it seems that it will stay as cold for the days to come. I am happy to have a long mink coat ( a gift from my late mother ) for these cold days. So much easier than having to use layering clothing!

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  12. Tiffany: Our ten centimetres of snowfall overnight followed almost immediately by 36 hours (and counting) of heavy rain might dissuade you from that envy. At least I've been able to give my new rubber boats a good puddle workout!
    Metscan: Oh, that mink will feel luxuriously warm, I'm sure -- and yes, one good warm coat really is easy than layer upon bulky layer. Stay cozy!

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  13. Hi Mater, I'll just tag onto this post to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes. We leave early tomorrow for a week in Scotland, then after a few days here we go to Oberammergau for skiing (boys) and reading and window shopping (me). I hope you all have a wonderful time and that you get lots of lovely chic presents for us to admire! Patricia

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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