Sunday, October 4, 2020

Dressing for Happiness, in Troubled Times. . .

 It's been a busy week: had one daughter's family over for dinner; went for a long walk in a small forest with another's; spent one morning cycling to a favourite wetlands park with my husband; two Italian evening classes (Zoom) and a Skype conversation with my French tutor; a couple of yoga classes; an appointment with my physio; bread-baking, soup-making. . . You know how it goes. 



And so many emotions to process watching and listening to and reading the news. So much going on that makes our daily concerns feel insignificant, irrelevant, petty. And yet perhaps more than ever we need to focus regularly on the domestic quotidian, on what we can manage and what we can take pleasure in every day, so that we can stay healthy, physically and emotionally.  Without that self-care, our efforts to make a contribution to the greater good become more precarious. That hummingbird who kept carrying water --drop by tiny drop -- to help put out the raging forest fire must surely have taken time to splash 'round in a circle of water cleaning feathers occasionally. Given her metabolism, she would have had to stop to sip nectar regularly.  (I wrote about "philosophy of the hummingbird/philosophie du colibri here -- scroll down in that post for the reference and explanation.)

All of which preamble, I hope, will explain why today's post is a What I Wore post. Even against the background of craziness that we're living through at the moment, and even with social life and life outside our homes as constrained as it is, I'm still taking pleasure in getting dressed.  And the dress I'm wearing in the photos in this post has brought renewed pleasure to my wardrobe since I picked it up in a summer sale on a visit to my son's family early August. Besides being on sale and in a sale I'm crazy about, it's made of 100% cotton (men's shirting-weight),  by a Scandinavian company (Two Danes), sold in a local and independent boutique in my son's city, so it ticked a number of my shopping-ethics guidelines. (How much do I like my new dress? Even let myself smile a full smile in the photo above, which also has something to do with my orthodontic work nearing completion.)

This dress was fabulous for wearing in summer heat, "wafty" (to use That's Not My Age's term: see her great post here on Wafting your Way through a Heat Wave) So easy to "style": Just add sneakers and sun-hat and your choice of straw beachbag and you're ready (I generally choose my small leather backpack instead, for hands-free city walking). . .  I wore this when I took a quick overnight trip to visit friends on the island early September (taking advantage of good weather that allowed long conversations on restaurant patios). 

Gratuitous "artsy" photos, if you don't mind, from the ferry's car deck. . . Small pleasures, remember? 



While we can't travel further afield, I'm doing my best to find eye candy closer to home. . . 

We're still having a few days here with temperatures warm enough to suit my dress. But turns out that it is a great transition piece for early fall. . . because. . . Layering!

I think the navy-and-white vertical pinstripes of the dress pair well (a bit playfully) with the grey and navy stripes of the Kate Davies-designed Strodie sweater I knit last year. This is how I wore it (under an umbrella through pouring rain) for dinner-with-a-view last week during our getaway up to the Sunshine Coast (see last post). . . (In case you're curious about Covid-19 precautions, that table is on an open outside deck, but there was a fibreglass roof above to protect us from the rain -- made for a romantic soundtrack ;-)
Then this past Friday,  putting away some summer gear, pulling a few sweaters out of boxes, I remembered this sweater which I knit when we first went into lockdown. . . 
Honestly, I'd completely forgotten it. By the time I finished it (early June -- see better photos of it on my Instagram) it was too warm to wear. So that will be my Fall wardrobe replenished -- shopped my closet and found something brand new! . . . turns out it was still too warm for it on Friday, but I stayed on the shady side of the street until I got to my local yarn shop so that I could show it off.  (That wasn't my primary reason for the visit -- was buying yarn for a granddaughter's birthday sweater -- but they helped me choose the yarn last spring when in-store visits were impossible, and I wanted to share the result.) After that, it was folded into my backpack, and now I'm actually looking forward to cooler days. Sweaters and tights ahead. Might even get out my Blundstones soon. . . 

That's it for this week's post. I still have a Donald Hall poem to share with you, and a recent sketch or two,  but right now I have some neglected Italian homework to catch up on and a new sweater to get on my needles.  

Your comments keep me going here, and they're always welcome.  I'm curious to know, for example, whether you've found some favourite OOTDs (outfits of the day, in case you're not up on your Social Media acronyms) to help you transition from Summer to Fall . . .or Winter to Spring, if you're a reader from the other hemisphere. I'm also keen to hear your self-care practices for coping with all the tough news we're confronting.  Anything make you laugh a wealth of endorphins this week? Anything brought happy tears to your eyes? Any fragrance slowed and deepened your breathing deep into your belly? Maybe, like Annie, you used a skill developed during confinement to make something great (see Annie's  fabulous new coat here) . . . Share your good news here (the more quotidian and domestic, the more encouraging, really) and we'll all smile with you. 
xo,




22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lovely dress-it is great for layering indeed!
Mornings are very cold and days could be anything from cold to warm,so I find very difficult to wear dresses- now it's time for jeans or trousers with t-shirts and sweater or cardigan,maybe even a trench coat
Going out is usually grocery shopping,physio or,very rare,coffee
Staying at home and make it cosy and hygge-ish is a priority,I agree with you. I've got a new,red tea pot from my son's girlfriend,I have a lot of books to read.....little pleasures seems so big now
Dottoressa

Maria said...

Great dress and an even better smile. Being able to knit jumpers that fit and look good is a super-power.
We’re having a very warm long-weekend with a cool change expected tonight. Typical unreliable spring weather really. In terms of Covid, we’ve had very little community transmission and the situation in Melbourne has also improved a great deal, which is very pleasing. Things in many countries, including the US, are very concerning and I keep hoping for the best.
I enjoyed a trip to the produce market on Saturday morning followed by a “slow stitching” workshop where I learned about a perfectly imperfect approach to embroidery that draws on Japanese techniques. Nothing is measured, old fabrics are repurposed and creativity is released. I’m now dreaming of using my new knowledge to make a quilt. At the very least, my mending efforts will benefit. I’m looking forward to celebrating my daughter’s birthday this week and seeing lots of spring flowers on our short break in a week’s time.

Carolpres said...

It's still quite warm here in SoCal, so my OOTD is shorts and a tank top for the immediate future. Looking forward to some fall soon, or what we call fall here. :-)

We are brunching with my bff and her husband next Sunday - they'll be down for a family thing and we're stealing some time with them - and I'm already looking at the weather forecast (75F/24C, but by the beach, so there will be a breeze) and deciding what lightweight top to wear with jeans and ankle boots (sans socks). October is hard here, as we're all very tired of our summer things but it's too warm for anything cozy. So we do a hybrid sort of thing.

I'm starting my first sweater! Managed to figure out the tubular cast on after watching several videos (what did we do before that?), so am cautiously moving forward.

On the domestic front, I cleared out the drawers of our linen closet (today: the shelves!), and when I showed off the finished product to the husband, he exclaimed, "You Marie Kondo'd the dishtowels." Yes, reader, I did.

Anonymous said...

Hello Frances! Your bright, lovely smile compels me to drop in and say hello! I love that dress and the ways you change it up with your beautiful handmade sweaters! So smart!
Along the So. California coast, we are still in shorts, tanks, and Birks weather. There is gratitude as I broke-in my 1st pair of Birks! I am remaining thankful as each day passes though I do need to up my productivity! This summer-beach-coastline weather can make me lounge around quite a bit! We've ventured out to grab a bite to eat in open-air patios with social distancing. We pack up an easy meal and eat in the car alongside the Ventura coastline. We feel incredibly blessed with our move closer to family and church. Boy...and the weather's not bad either as our former home had record highs in the 120's (Fahrenheit).
We are hoping to take a trip to our beloved Eastern Sierras at the end of October with son and his family. We will most likely miss the Aspen fall colors but, hopefully, the fish will still be biting until the close of the season on October 31st. We are keeping an eye on the fires on the western slopes, smoke, and air quality.
The political climate here is absolutely CRAZY. (And I am deleting my description of that.) After yelling at the TV screen earlier in the week, I am returning to thankfulness for my ability to live here, to vote, to support candidates of my choice, to shelter/mask for health, to engage with a caring community, and...realize that decency and character can still be found in the everyday.
Thank you for this post/prompt to encourage me to focus on the beauty and thankfulness of Autumn...its been a tumultuous week.
Smiling...charlene h

Anonymous said...

We escaped one paradise to venture to another. We are in Tofino for a few days. Surf and sand, crashing waves and good food. Literally sticking our heads in the sand, pretending everything else is a really bad dream. Back to reality soon enough.....sigh....
Ali

Annie Green said...

Many thanks for the mention - I gave you a thumbs-up via the laptop screen. The point about the quotidian is timely and it is something I too have adopted, finding that collecting lots of tiny wins really adds up. And in that I include - painting my nails, having a great cup of coffee, chatting with a friend. None huge in themselves but all balm. And avoiding too much news. I like to be informed but not horrified. If I am having a down day I tend to wander through pinterest and look at pretty things, just for a while, because it tops up the cheeriness tanks.

Mary said...

Love the dress. So comfy. And your smile. Delightful.

As for your knitting, slightly envious at the moment. Have the back of a raglan jumper completed and the front a mere inch from completion, but discovered that I can't make head nor tail of the instructions for starting the neck band on this front piece. Don't know if my brain has just taken a holiday, but the more I look at it, the more frustrated I get and back in the knit bag it goes. Perhaps it doesn't help that I never pick it up to knit until the end of the day. Lovely and soft--a plum colour, too. Just not sure it will ever get done. Maybe I'll just start on the sleeves and hope for a miracle.

Duchesse said...

I'm glad you can still enjoy such outings and relative contact. At the epicentre for the country, with cases rising, as of Oct. 1, we cannot see anyone, indoors or out—with t her exception of one person to walk with (We cannot meet that person in a park, for example.) Very strict. (Exceptions for those who require a caregiver or babysitter.) Your mood is that upbeat one I remember from our summer, when we could do that, and I look forward to better times here.

Duchesse said...

Duchess: Sorry for typos: "With the exception of..."

Smithposts... said...

Love to find your post in my emails on Monday morning! Good morning. Enjoy this cute dress worn with your talented handiwork this fall and keep smiling!!

Fall in east Tennessee is slipping in faster than usual, dogwood leaves are mostly red, maples are beginning to turn, jeans and t-shirt weather is here. This is my favorite time of year, until spring comes along. My days are currently spent working on my latest virtual race, reading and avoiding as much political news as possible.

anonymous said...

Everything is so out of control in this country/world (?) right now that all I can do is return to advice I received years ago to concentrate on what I can control. And that is self-care and having gratitude that I have the ability to do that.

Your dress is the perfect combination of comfort and style.

slf

Linda said...

Really love that dress - so much so that I had a look to see if there are any Scottish stockists of Two Danes, and found one about 50 miles from me, just north of Inverness. Not quite popping along to browse distance, especially in these times, but they do mail order....Those dark colours really suit you.
The idea of a favourite OOTD certainly made me laugh - I'm still in my daily house renovation uniform of walking trousers, long sleeved T shirts and a fleece. Except adding thermal leggings and vest now that the weather has turned colder and we still have doors wide open, floors lifted down to the foundations etc for the procession of marauding chippies, sparkies, brickies and plumbers. Strange that plumbers don't have their familiar form like all the other trades - do they get one in Canada? Dresses, smart trousers, shirts and jumpers have been packed away for nearly a year now.
Self care? Having at least one no-news day a week, and only reading the news once a day on the other days. Good news? I have almost finished clearing one border in the garden that has been a overgrown tangle for at least 10 years, and my savoy cabbages are superb. Oh, and the discovery of TV5 Monde online and becoming addicted to a drama series about young men training for the priesthood (Ainsi Soient Ils). Surprisingly enthralling for someone from a very Scottish Presbyterian background!

Sue Burpee said...

Gosh I love that dress, Frances. I've been looking for ages for a dress that I can love as much as yours. Perfect with both sweaters. I just unearthed a sweater of my own which I knot and finished a couple of years ago. Yah. Shopping in our own closets and trunks can still reveal treasures. xo

materfamilias said...

Dottoressa: Visiting the physio is my big outing these days as well ;-). . . Your son's girlfriend gives a good gift -- very promising . . . I do love a red teapot, so cheery!
Maria: You've done well with control of the virus there. We're starting to see some serious climbing of numbers in the East (they think of themselves as Central provinces, Ontario and Quebec). I think we probably all need to stay on guard still...
I did a Sashiko workshop a few years ago and love it, especially for mending, although I haven't done much. Is that what you're doing?
CarolP: you seem to be getting the balance right, activity-wise. . . I read your comment just after I'd struggled to remember Twisted German Cast-On, watched the video a few times, cursed, started over. And over. Good for our brain cells, right? I bet your sweater will be a great success!
Charlene: Thank you! Always happy to hear from you, and it sounds as if, like Carol P, you're balancing very well, managing to focus on the good while yet doing your best to combat what's hurting us. Keeping on keeping on, with as much joy as you can muster (which seems considerable).

Sharon said...

Your smile in that photo is wonderful to see, and your dress is even more becoming topped by the sweaters.
I seldom comment, but I look forward to each new blog episode.

materfamilias said...

Ali: I'd love to get up to Tofino -- Enjoy!
Annie G: Yes, you seem to have it figured out and you'll come out of this time with mad new skillz! ;-)
Mary: Oh, I do dislike having a project glaring at me from the basket, one that I've left for a bit and need to do some headwork to get back into. Must say I always feel good when I push through it (but can I also say that I've been known, in the past, only once, to bundle it all up in a bag with the pattern and donate it to Thrift? Life's too short!)
Duchesse: Yes, your situation is really tough right now -- especially hard for your son, daughter-in-law, and little guy. My daughter's family in Italy was in very strict lockdown (only 200 metres from home for exercise, and not accompanied, and with a signed and dated statement as to reason for being out!) for many weeks, and honestly, I worried about the emotional/mental health stresses for them all. But Italy now seems to be doing better than most other European countries, so I guess Draconian measures work. Hope that everyone complies quickly in Quebec and you see numbers drop soon.

Mary Katherine said...

I really like those sweaters over your dress! We're already wearing tights and short boots (not tall ones yet) down here, but it's still in the low 60s during the days.

belle said...

that stripe on stripe look is fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Your posts are such a breath of fresh air. The photos you share are always interesting. I love how you appreciate the simple and good things in this life. The tales of your week are wonderful suggestions for everyone to simply enjoy such quiet times as a long walk with a friend, having dinner with family, indulging in a good book or craft. And, most of all, I very much appreciate that you are non political on your blog. So many bloggers seem to believe that, instead of simply encouraging everyone to exercise their right to vote, they must encourage them who to vote for. So thank you for that! Janie

materfamilias said...

Thanks Smithposts! Hope your rib is healing without too much discomfort.
SLF: Yes! As Sarah Cooper recently tweeted, this movie is way too long -- hopeful that enough of you will Vote for a different outcome and change will begin. Yes You Can! ;-) Meanwhile, Self-care and Gratitude . . .
Linda: I think that what you're doing in house and garden is wonderful and as chaotic as I know it must be at times, I hope you're stopping to pat yourself on the back regularly. . . Ainsi soit-il/Ainsi soient-ils. . . clever play there. (the former iteration very familiar to me from French class in Catholic school and also from my maternal grandmother who spoke French exclusively as a child.
Sue Burpee: Isn't it a great dress? I'm loving it, wearing it all the time now ;-) Hope you'll wear your unearthed handknit for a photoshoot soon.
Sharon: Thanks so much for the encouraging kind words -- glad to hear the blog pleases you.
Mary Katherine: I'm almost into tights, but it still gets a bit too warm by afternoon. I suspect that will change next week. . . We're still hitting low 20s C, but that will drop quickly now.
Belle: Thanks! I really like it too!
Janie: I'm pleased to hear that you enjoy the post. I think my politics can be inferred easily on the blog (social justice, environmental protection, left-leaning), but you're right that I tend to keep my focus more general here.

Maria said...

Hi Frances, I remember when you did your course as it was the start of my interest in “visible mending”. My workshop was aimed more at decorative sewing techniques that can be used to produce panels about the size of a placemat that can be put together to produce wall hangings, quilts or even added to clothing. It’s very freeing, no right or wrong, no need to measure. The teacher said that all mistakes add to the beauty of a piece and she supports using recycled, natural fabrics. Much of what we learned can be used in mending but I became inspired to make panels for a quilt. I found it so freeing and loved working with Japanese style fabrics and beautifully coloured threads. It was also a bit meditative. We’ll see how I go with the quilt and either way I have more techniques to apply to mending xx

materfamilias said...

Maria: That workshop sounds wonderful, freeing as you say, a comforting way to nurture and express creativity. . .Enjoy your making!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...