Monday, July 13, 2020

Self-Portrait of the Blogger, From My Sketchbook. . .

Good Monday morning to all of you,

May I just say that sometimes blogging is hard? Perhaps tougher than it looks from that side of the screen.  I took so much encouragement from your response to my last post, but I'm also feeling a bit drained at the moment. And I haven't shared any sketches with you lately, so in place of words this morning. . . . last night's sketch, my pencilled interpretation of a selfie photo you can see on Instagram. Vulnerable in the exposure of my completely ungroomed grey hair, I'm nonetheless shielded by my dark lenses -- that analogy works for me this morning. (For other sketched portraits of Yours Truly, see this post).

For better entertainment, pop over to my friend Sue's for the most delightful Fantasy Backyard Book Party ever. She can really set a scene, tell a story, and assemble a charming cast of characters.

I'll be livelier next post, promise. . . .
xo,
f



Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Strange? If You Say So. . . A bit about What I Wore. . . and Why. . .

 Just as I suspected, the weekend with the Seven, the Five, and their dog, was fun . . . and tiring. The Eleven (the idolized big cousin!) visited for a few hours as well;  her parents joined us for dinner one evening. Good times. And tiring. . .  

Yesterday morning, a long dental appointment with another long (and final, I hope) endodontist session on Friday.  

And returning to you, I first have a reader comment to address. This new (occasional? previously lurking?) reader says,  "I don't understand the reason for publishing an OOTD. Does it mean: I'm still existing and I do have a closet full of rather strange garments and the the whole world must take notice? Or is the reason to show the whole world how stylish you are and everybody should follow your concept of individual style?"


While she frames her comment as a question, the reasons this reader assigns to those of us who post What We Wore (Outfits of the Day, OOTD) manifest a limited generosity of imagination and level a few passive-aggressive accusations. 

But let me use her comment to do two things: 
First, I can repeat what I said back in 2013 on the topic: 

I'll remind you of what I said earlier about my What I Wore posts:  I'm NOT looking for approval or flattery or, even, constructive criticism. And I'm obviously not trying to teach you anything about how to dress (ha! say both of us). I'm just sharing, because how I dress is important to me, still, at 60, and it's a Part of my life. Just Part.  

I can't find the post I'm reminding you about, in that 2013  disclaimer,  but here's a post from way back in 2008 in which I was already questioning why I posted What I Wore,  so there has long been a resistance to overcome . . . and reasons to persist.  Even more reasons as I've moved from mid-50s to late 60s -- think Diversity in Representation, Visibility of/in Ageing, Slow Fashion -- but it's been a busy week and I won't parse those reasons today.  


What hasn't changed since the 2008 or the 2013 post is that the Community gathered here shares an interest in a variety of topics,  including the way we dress.  Women have been silenced and shamed in so many ways and for so many reasons, across cultures, across time. Particularly aggravating to me is that judgement based on our appearance is so often accompanied by the accusation of superficiality, of weak thinking, of lack of intellectual engagement when we find pleasure in managing that appearance, exercising our aesthetic sensibilities and our intelligence.  We're expected to look a certain way; we're judged for investing agency in that look.

Again, this is not the week for that particular rant-which-could-become-an-essay. . . 


For now, all I will say is that I post photos of outfits I wore, despite the discomfort I still have with that disclosure, the vulnerabilities I feel, because I enjoy sharing with you; further, it seems that being seen this way has, over the years, enhanced our relationship. I find pleasure and amusement and creative expression in combining the shapes and textures and colours and proportions of garments and accessories. To jump from that to assuming that posting photos such as those on this page to assure myself that I "still exist" or that everyone should "follow my concept of individual style" is to indulge in an abundance of faulty logic that makes my retired-English-professor fingers twitch for my marking pen.

But instead, let me move to the second opportunity provided by this visitor to my blog.

The trigger word for this opportunity is the word "strange" in the speculation that I post in order to announce my "closet filled with rather strange garments." The comment appeared on a post featuring  a navy cotton T-shirt and a navy skirt. Nothing strange about those garments at all, except that I wore them with sneakers. The previous post similarly elicited a mean remark for a combination of pale pink T-shirt and midi-length purple pleated skirt with pale pink oxfords, all topped by a neutral houndstooth blazer and a pink-purple print silk scarf.  To extrapolate from these outfits "a closet filled with rather strange garments" . . .   

I'm going to restrain myself from speculating on the worldview and life circumstances that would lead to that extrapolation. 

 Instead, I decided that I would Embrace My Strange in this post, and by offering a quick explication of each piece's provenance, also point to some values I hold beyond "The Look."

The skirt: J Crew, Summer 2016. A classic casual style (quite full, gathered at the waist, satisfyingly deep side pockets, practical below-knee length) in a slightly whimsical, texturally interesting fabric, 100% cotton, flocked. This is the fifth summer I'm wearing it, and I see no reason I won't be wearing it for many more. So: Slow Fashion, for the win!

The white-with-green-trim sneakers (Adidas, Stan Smiths) are another classic, although a rather trendy one at the moment. Smart-looking but also practical, they were suggested to me by my daughter who lives in Rome. So besides pleasing me aesthetically and pragmatically (they keep my feet walking comfortably at a reasonable price and are well-made), there's a sentimental component when I include them in an outfit. 

And then that green T-shirt. Or Tea Shirt as its graphic proclaims. Funny story to this recent addition to my wardrobe.  A week or two ago, in the midst of the newly energized and energizing focus on social justice and the call for anti-racist commitment that is #BlackLivesMatter, I noticed a sponsored ad on my Instagram feed.  In the ad (I can't find it on Instagram anymore, but here it is on YouTube, only 15 seconds long) a very engaging young boy makes a lively, professional, and entertaining sales pitch for viewers to visit his family's Vintage Store -- which happens to be located in our neighbourhood mall. Significantly, since I'm making a greater effort to find and support Black and Indigenous businesses, this young man is Black. I'm not a keen Vintage shopper, to be honest, but I made a note that I should at least pop in and check out the store. As well, I tagged a few friends and family members who might be interested . . . and I showed the ad to my husband.

You should know that my husband is far less a Vintage shopper than I am (as in, he absolutely isn't; nor is he an enthusiastic clothes shopper at all). I grew up wearing secondhand clothing sourced at church rummage sales and thrift or consignment shops; he's only rarely worn anything secondhand, and then it's been a gem I've found at a higher-end consignment store. The advertised shop is not that.

But apparently my fellow thought I was issuing a command or pushing a moral imperative; a few days later, I noticed he was wearing a new t-shirt, and when I complimented him on it, he said he had a new one for me as well.  I'll admit to being a bit taken aback at being presented with a used T-shirt, and I wondered where he'd ever got the idea. Turns out he'd worked his way through racks of vintage  on his way to the grocery store the day before, and he was surprisingly pleased with his purchases -- and with his putative new street cred. Supporting a local business and working the slow fashion angle!

Needless to say, I overcame my reluctance and tried on the shirt. It's a bit snug, it's a colour I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself, and it's a bolder graphic than I've worn for a while.  But I do like my tea (as you will remember from this post). . . . The cotton is at once satisfyingly sturdy and nicely worn, and it turns out that the green of my Stan Smiths echoes the green of the t-shirt well.
)
Personally, I wouldn't call the combination "strange," but if you want to, I guess I'm okay with that. I'm going to wear the outfit anyway (and some days, I'd happily wear the label "strange" as a badge, although I'm not sure I can live up to it). And if I get a bit chilly, I might even shrug my non-matching cashmere cardi over it all, visibly mended, colourfully embroidered pocket and all. . . .

Another industrial neighbourhood sidewalk planting that's very effective, featuring tough-as-old-boots Lysimachia punctate
But while I'm okay with the occasional reader calling my garments or combinations of same"strange," I would encourage any and all of us to check those impulses to "estrange" others rather than simply noting difference. A label such as "strange" insists on a structure of centre and margins, and it's connected however lightly to the hierarchical structures that enable systemic racism. That's a big claim, I know, and I'm running out of words and energy to argue it here. But consider that the word xenophobia derives from the Greek word xeno meaning "foreign" or "strange" and phobia which signals fear or hatred.
So perhaps there's another purpose served in posting OOTDs, and if I give some readers a chance to consider why something appears so "strange" to them,  to consider thinking of that distasteful strangeness as merely something different, I'm going to keep stepping up. And if you stick around enough to get to know me beyond my "strange outfits," there's a chance that will change your perception of What I'm Wearing even more.
If not, well, there's so much else to attend to in the world, isn't there?
Such as, for example, these weavings of colourful fabric scraps through the chain link fencing at a local school playground.

A bit strange, from a distance, perhaps? At least as something to invite curiosity, a closer look.

Colourful and cheerful and even ingenious on a closer look, plus the suggestion of narratives each one might tell. Who was the artist? More than one? Why and from whence the materials? (I guessed an art project for the few students who went back for the last few weeks of their Covid-disrupted school year, but the weavings are at adult height).


Sadly, the neighbourhood walk under those clear blue skies happened week before last, but I'm off again under cloudier skies as soon as I leave you the microphone.

We could talk about wearing vintage, about husbands bearing odd gifts, about what triggers our judgement of what others wear (and while I'm judicious about when, where, and how I comment, I readily admit to making those judgement). You could let me know about Black businesses you've found to support online or in your neighbourhood -- Lisa just did a great post on this. Anything this post evokes in you (if it's sincere, thoughtful, and polite disagreement,  I don't mind, but gratuitous nastiness will just be deleted) -- or just Wave at me and I'll smile back at you. 

xo,
f


Friday, July 3, 2020

OOTD for Walking and Listening and Thinking. . . Postcards from the Neighbourhood

Making up our week's supply of muesli this morning, getting ready for my online (live, Zoom) yoga class, I thought briefly about the comment an Anonymous reader left on Monday's post (deleted 30 seconds after I read it). Someone claims to be embarrassed for me because I think I'm stylish when I'm actually over-dressed -- and also because I wore "little pink socks." The latter detail amused me the most because Wow! you'd have to look closely to see those socks -- someone's spending far too much time and energy being embarrassed on my behalf, when really, I'm pretty insignificant. . . and entirely capable of feeling embarassed for my own self!

But not about what I'm wearing. Not anymore. Not for a very long time. 13 or 14 maybe?

Whatever. . .  as the kids say (do they still? mine did during their adolescence, through the 90s, but I'm not sure that expression still works the same way. I used to deplore its claim of not caring . . . Not as much as I deplore being embarrassed for what someone else is wearing when there is so much else in the world for us to care about.

In response -- and since I have so little to get dressed for these days -- I decided that I'd embarrass all of us for the next while with some posts of What I Wore for my afternoon walks. These have become a regular feature of my day lately, as I work through the Covid-imposed changes to my fitness regime and the resultant issues with knees and hips. I walk about seven kilometres, circling around the neighbourhood, listening to French podcasts (balados) -- so that I get some exercise, remember how much beauty there is to find around me, work on my French aural comprehension, snap some photos for the blog . . . and, lately, add to my knowledge of Black Lives and why they Matter.

So that this morning (you know, while making the muesli), I realizedI could put together a little series of posts that would meet my goal of working (in my small way) to centre black and indigenous lives, and at the same time continue to aim my wistful traveller's lens at my own city and share one Senior Woman's (that's me ;-)) Slow Fashion Style, such as it is.

I know that only a few of you will be able to follow the podcasts I've been listening to, but for those who might want to,  a new favourite is La Poudre, a series of interviews by French journalist Lauren Bastide with a remarkable catalogue of interesting, strong women.  The day I walked in my new indigo Tee-shirt (same make as the new pink one I showed you recently) and the navy linen skirt I bought in Bordeaux last year, for example, I listened to an interview with Fania Noel.

 Born in Haiti, raised in Paris, recently pursuing doctoral studies in New York, Fania Noel is an Afrofeminist  activist and organizer, and she makes a cogent case for linking racism and climate change to capitalism.

 If you're interested in knowing more about her work and her writing, I found this interview in English: Afrofeminism in France and Abroad: A Q and A with Fania Noel. [The interview appears on a blog founded by a Black American writer and social media strategist living in Paris. If you love Paris enough to broaden your view of it,  Après Josephine is for you; the focus is on the Black experience of/in Paris "after Josephine" Baker.]


And now, as this message etched in a neighbourhood concrete sidewalk instructs, it's Time to Conclude. . .


A last few photos as I get back to my walk. . . .in an outfit I would wear for a day of walking in Paris, by the way. With no embarassment of all. . .

Gratuitous photos of a Rosa Glauca, because I was thrilled to spot a sweet specimen a few blocks from our condo the other day, and I'll probably go back to visit it later. I had one growing against a rustic cedar fence in our old seaside garden -- a friend and neighbour introduced me to their distinctive leaves and rose hips. The flowers, as you can see, are negligible in terms of size, but I love their simple, frank openness and that splash of bright pink across the glaucous (dull grey-ish green or blue) leaves.

(I should note that I have a fondness for the word "glaucous" ever since I read an "unpacking" of it by literary critic Catherine Belsey decades ago -- and also realized that my eyes might be so described).

Edited to add: Turns out that 13 years ago I wrote about my Rosa Glauca and also discussed my partiality to the word "glaucous." Hmmmm, at least I'm consistent. . . 
Those hips don't look like so much right now, especially not in that photo, but come winter. . . .

Hope you found something that engaged you here today. . . I'd love to hear from you.  On what you wear for walking, for example, or whether you've become, or were already, a Podcast Fan (feel free to recommend favourites, although I'll probably stick with French ones for now). . . On how you feel about all things glaucous (okay, probably not too many strong opinions on that one and I'm being a bit facetious or flip). . . . And weekend plans (we're going to be hosting two Favourite Littles, a Five and a Seven -- I have "exhaustion" penciled in the calendar for right after their departure Monday afternoon ;-) but until then it's going to be Fun Fun Fun!

xo,
f

Monday, June 29, 2020

Postcard from a Staycation. . . Italy in Vancouver. . .

First of all, wanting to do my small part (la philosophie du colibri/legend of the hummingbird) to keep the #BlackLivesMatter movement centered, to keep those Black Lives Mattering, I recommend the Netflix series The Eddy. Nothing overtly political in the series, and you might question my even linking it to the activism represented by that hashtag. But thoughtful writing that centres Black lives doesn't show up on our screens often enough. Watching it boosts the numbers for such productions, and encourages producers and distributors to show us more -- which means more opportunities for Black writers and actors . . . .

Something I thought and wrote and taught constantly about through my years as researcher, scholar, university prof was the intricate relationship between Construction and Representation: the ways a nation, for example, or a gender, or a sexuality, is Represented. . . and then the way the individuals who find themselves covered by that label tend to Construct themselves accordingly, so that Construction and Representation chase each other. And they rely considerably on silencing dissension, marginalizing non-conformity.  

Shows that turn the cameras on those margins, shifting focus to centre a disruptive Representation allows for de-construction and, hopefully, for new understandings. The Eddy, to return to my recommendation, does this work, offering a view of Paris that takes viewers beyond its beautiful Hausmannian façades, its fashionable boutiques, manicured parks, café terraces filled with stylish people . . . In place of that idealized Paris, The Eddy is set in a jazz club in a rougher part of Paris than what tourists might visit, and the roughness that complicates the lives of its Black American and French Muslim owners spills into the plot. The characters struggle, their struggles exacerbated by ethnicity, refugee status, religion, by addiction, by the assumptions of police, of the French state in general. 

The cinematography is beautiful, despite the grittiness. There's a scene of a beloved deceased being prepared for burial according to Muslim tradition that is stunningly rich, sorrowful, moving, profoundly gorgeous in a way I can't explain -- perhaps simply because of the rare generosity of such a depiction of Islam.

And if you like jazz. Well, truly, if you like music at all. . . 

I've already written more about this than I'd planned to -- all the above was written as an afterthought to what I wrote below, but I've decided I'm going to use this format regularly to feature viewing and reading and listening and linking that centres Black and Indigenous Lives. I hope you will find this useful or productive or inspiring. We'll see how it evolves.

And now back to the post I first wrote . . . 

A glorious Monday here: sunshine, blue skies, and a promised high of 23 (Celsius) -- which isn't warm enough for swimming unless you're very hardy, but which is pretty close to perfect for me.  My daughter writes and posts photos from Italy where it's above 30 every day, has been for weeks, will be for months. . . . I wish we could be there, to be with them, but I don't do heat well, and for now am content enough to be where I am.

Remembering being in Portugal (central) at the end of June ten years ago. . . . I wrote about that here, should you wish to travel with me. . .
 Meanwhile, we're trying to capture some of that Summer Traveller feeling by finding city terraces to sit at, lingering over delicious meals.  Finally having the slightest occasion--a lunch date with my guy! -- to dress for, I took advantage. It was brisk, windy, on Saturday, warm enough at 20, but I needed an outer layer. . . I debated whether or not I was over-dressed, but decided I was just right for me. These long pleated skirts are so easy to wear (this one's Eileen Fisher, bought summer 2018), and I was comfortable walking for an hour in this OOTD before Pater and I met for lunch. The pink oxfords are almost two years old; the pale pink T-shirt brand new (also seen in my last post; yep, into heavy rotation already); the scarf was a Paris purchase winter before last; and that jacket scored a near-fail when I listed and analysed my 2019 Retail Wardrobe Shopping for Slow Fashion Accountability back in January. But it was perfect for Saturday's weather -- the woven cotton (with stretch) was just enough to break the wind and it's not at all constricting. I might redeem that Bad Buy yet. . . .
As you can see from the background below, the industrial street scene here made it tough to pretend we were on a European vacation (the moody skies don't help). But my guy was waiting for me, and we ordered a half-litre of the Tormaresca Primitivo we'd first tasted during a very special lunch in Puglia five years ago. Still very good. . . .
And while the street mood here skews Industrial rather than Italian Romantic, the owners of this great little Sicilian place in our 'hood have brought the ambiance to their sidewalk patio, and we let our imaginations play along. . .
My guy, especially, was channelling Euro-style, don't you think? (That young couple just getting back on their bikes took a minute to tell us how stylish they thought we were, really sweet of them, and we had a good chat about Italian culture and food -- I thought that their pedalling up to lunch contributed some Italian notes as well).
And the food transported. . . . I haven't yet eaten arancini in Sicilia
but Oh My. . . it's hard to imagine this could be any better (crispy on the outside, soft, savoury inside, a centre of nutmeg-fragrant Besciamella enveloped by delicately seasoned saffron risotto. Mmmmm
And we'd decided beforehand that we'd do a multi-course lunch, stretch out the experience. So even though our first courses were ample, we soldiered on. Forced ourselves to appreciate a pasta course (his Carbonara, my Mushroom Ravioli in a Gorgonzola Sauce. If I try to tell you more about it, I'll have to stop writing, because it's past my lunchtime here and my tummy's already growling. . .
There was a shared dessert as well, but it didn't wait for the camera. . . .

Instead, I took one last photo before we left, so that I could compare it to this one, from a dinner with our Italian crew last spring. . . another sidewalk patio meal. . . 
And that's it for today's post. A Traveller at Home sends you this postcard, and best wishes for a good week ahead.
xo,
f

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Finally, A HairCut. . . Grey Curls Under Control Again, Whew!

 This is what I wore for my first haircut in five months (five months!). . . Levi 501s and a new t-shirt by a Japanese company called Homspun, bought in a shop that sells the most beautifully simple and simply beautiful Japanese household goods and basic garments. . . and is three minutes away from the door of condo (that includes my elevator time! -- it's dangerously close!).  . . I haven't really missed shopping per se, but the experience of chatting to attentive and interesting Shopowner and Sales Assistants (socially distanced, and yes, I wore a face mask) in a delightfully curated, aesthetically pleasing store. . . Well, you know that expression, "I've really got to get out more". . . . The shopping and haircut combination was more satisfactory in regards to "getting out more" than the trips to the dentist and endodontist ;-)

In case you're curious about the Before and the After,
this is Before. . .

 and here is the After
 and just because Selfies always feel so awkward. . .

I made some with goofy faces. . .
For example. . .
If you're at all interested in how and when I embraced my grey after years of colouring, this post from May 2016 summarizes that transition, with photos.  . . 

We're off for a bike ride now . . . but I'm working on a few posts that are more substantive than what's been happening here lately. Thanks for sticking 'round in the meantime. And perhaps you'd like to tell me if you've managed to get your hair cut or styled yet since the shutdown. . . Or whether you've "got out more" . . .

And if you'd like to get out more but don't feel it's safe to do so yet, you might consider the virtual Book Club Party my friend Sue is hosting in her backyard. Looks as if it might be the event of the season -- maybe I'll see you there.  

Monday, June 22, 2020

Monday Healing: Sketch and Garden . . .

Thanks so much for all the kind comments on my last post.  You may already have read on Instagram that my root canal went well. I have one more scheduled for this Friday, and I'm feeling much less anxious about it, given how comfortable (and successful!) this last one was. In fact, those 90 minutes in that endodontist chair were surprisingly nourishing on several layers (watching Michelle Obama's Becoming on Netflix on Juneteenth, in the midst of so much potential for positive change. . . meanwhile being cared for by a young female specialist (and her young female assistant), something that was unimaginable when I first learned my anxiety about dentists some 60+ years ago. . .

I'm thinking I will tell you more about this soon, but for now, I'm sticking with a short post. I haven't shared pages from my Covid-times mini-sketchbook for a few weeks, and this one illustrates my current situation quite effectively. . . .
I'm also appreciating the healing qualities of my garden. . .
and I'm planning to show you a few of its happiest groupings. . . and chat about what has worked and what hasn't. . . .

For now, I can say without reservations that being forced to stay home this spring and summer has benefited the garden enormously. 

More later.
How are you this Monday morning? And how do your gardens grow?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Of Root Canals and Roses. . . .

You may have noticed, if you follow me on Instagram, that I've got some dental woes going on this week.  These are too tiresome to recount here (in brief: nearing the end of the first stage of my Invisalign treatment, the transition to a retainer was delayed by Covid-19 closure; I've been trying to ignore a certain tenderness for weeks, but it became much more pronounced this last week and I was finally able to get a dentist appointment; infection requiring two root canals and antibiotics and painkillers). . .  suffice it to say that I'm not sure what blogging I will manage over the next week or two. . .

For now, I'm working on my positive attitude, which I'll confess is shaky and needs considerable shoring up. . . I've been meditating and doing online yoga classes (mostly Yin Yang, heavy on the Yin) and working on affirmations and gratitude and, well, you get the idea.

So for now, I'll leave you with this photo I took on a walk this past weekend. This glorious pink rose
climbs thirty or more feet to the top of a tree in an area I love for its thoughtful and inspiring public landscaping. More than ever this spring and summer, I've been so grateful to city and parks planners (and the horticulturists and landscape architects and the gardeners and maintenance workers) who bring the aesthetic joy of harmonious plantings to those citizens who don't have access to gardens of our own. . . and to those of us who do, but never get enough. Gardens and beautifully landscaped areas humanize the urban concrete in ways we don't always know we need until suddenly we're face to face with a fragrant rose clambering unlikely heights through the branches of a tall tree, and we realize we're smiling more broadly and spontaneously than we have for days. . . .
I would likely wax philosophical about this generous sharing of gardens -- and the resources of space across time -- but I'm saving my energy for the endodontist's chair and the ongoing healing.

Wish me luck. . . .
;-)
xo,
f

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...