Sunday, September 25, 2016

What to Wear While Strolling Down Memory Lane

Today is my last day down east with my Mum. I'll be heading home to Ottawa tomorrow. And I've been thinking tonight about how much time I've spent, this past week, wandering down one lane or another. Literal and figurative. Once the rain stopped, a brisk breeze blew in sunshine and lovely crisp September weather. Perfect for donning sneakers and sweatpants and getting outside.

The old farmhouse basking in the sunshine

So, several times this week I hit the walking trail that runs along the Saint John River near my Mum's house, to get some much needed exercise. The trail is lined with wild apples trees, wild grape vines, and choke-cherry bushes... all laden with fruit.

Part of the Trans-Canada Trail near Keswick, New Brunswick

I love it when the leaves start to turn. This is a view of one of the islands where the farmers used to graze cattle in the summer. This part of the river between the channels is called the "Grand Pass," and from here I can see the fishing hole everyone calls "Burpee Bar." Not named after me, by the way.

The Grand Pass on the Saint John River

When I wasn't speed walking the trail in sneakers and sweatpants, I was tramping up the brook and across parts of the old farm that I haven't visited for years. Exploring corners that have fallen into disuse. But are still lovely. The patina of age making them all the more poignant to me.

The old spring fed watering trough

Mother Nature has turned the old cattle watering trough into a perfect parallelogram. It's a bit sad to see things sliding into disrepair. Still, I'm glad that I can still visit these spots when I'm home. Leaning against an old fence made from wood that my stepdad probably cut and milled himself, or finding an abandoned chisel with a homemade wooden handle in the grass. Vestiges of the past.

I love this bit of old fence

On this day it was misty and cool, so my rubber boots and a rain coat were in order. Ha. Posting this makes me laugh. I don't think I've included many make-up free photos on the blog.

Roaming in my boots, raincoat, and a trusty walking stick.

And it wasn't only literal pathways and lanes I was wandering down this week. I made connections with a few friends that I haven't seen in years. And years. I had dinner one night with Elizabeth, a high school friend that I haven't seen since... well... since high school. We talked, and laughed, and talked, and chortled, and had a wonderful evening. I commented that I might need throat lozenges when we had finished catching up. This is a conversation that we'll continue the next time I'm home. Because, as she said in a text the next day, "We aren't done yet, my friend."

This is what I wore. My new Massimo Dutti white shirt, cropped Citizens of Humanity jeans, Stuart Weitzman loafers, and my Vince coat sweater. Some old pieces, some new. Appropriate for new beginnings to old friendships, don't you think?

On my way out for supper and yakking with an old friend

On Saturday night I attended a reunion for my junior high school class. This was something that three friends and I cooked up two years ago after our 40th high school reunion. Not that we didn't love that reunion, we did. Re-connecting with high school friends was wonderful. But we felt that we didn't see enough of the kids with whom we had journeyed through elementary school. You know that long road from Barbie lunch boxes and Dick and Jane readers through to first dances and training bras.

Mary, Donna, Colleen, and me

That's my new Veronica Beard suit I'm wearing. With my Stuart Weitzman loafers and a white cami under the jacket. I'm so glad I bought that suit. It looks polished, but casual, and is so very, very comfortable. I love how Donna's kicking up her heels in this shot. Such a fun night. And at the end of the evening, pretty much everyone stayed and helped us take down the tables and the decorations and pack away all the leftover food. As one classmate said in an e-mail this morning... "The fact that so many people stayed to clean up waaaay after their bed time speaks to how much fun we were all having." Ha. You got that right, Kim. Midnight is long past bedtime at our advanced age!

You know it's funny that in the past two years I've made more connections with old friends than I have in a long time. Partly it's because my 40th high school reunion reunited me with many old friends I hadn't seen since my twentieth reunion. Partly it's because now that I'm retired and my mum is widowed, I make the journey home more often. And thus I'm in town many more days a year. With more time to see old friends. And partly it's because of the magic of the Internet. After my high school reunion, I connected with a ton of people on Facebook. People see that I've posted something on my blog or on FB about being "back in the 'hood." And we exchange messages to arrange coffee or supper get-togethers.

And the result is that as I move forward into my sixties, I'm getting to know friends from my childhood all over again. And that's pretty cool for someone who has been gone from this place as long as I have. Home has always been special for me. I've always cherished this old farm. And now I'm loving getting re-acquainted with some of the people who knew me way back when.

I didn't spend my whole week wandering down lanes literal and figurative. Mum and I did stuff too. Shopping, and making meals together, and stuff. I even tried my hand at putting her hair in curlers one day since her regular hair-dresser is away. Not sure how successful that was.

Here's Mum and me today as we headed outside to clean up her garden tools and put them away for the winter. Mum's wearing one of my step-dad's old hats. Well, it does match her jacket. Good thing she had it on; by the time we made it back into the house, the wind had picked up and it was pouring rain. You know, she's going to kill me when she sees that I've used this shot in the blog post. She said when she saw it earlier today, "My goodness, Susie, I look like an old woman in that picture." Nah. I think you look pretty cool, Mum.

But just to safe. I'm glad that I'll be winging my way back to Ottawa by the time she sees this. I may be sixty years old, but I still don't want to get in trouble with Mum.

Mum and me in our garden garb

So that's what I've been doing this week. Strolling down real lanes, and memory lanes. And what I've been wearing. What have you been up to my friends?

P.S. Please excuse some formatting anomalies on this post and my last one. The ap I use to create blog posts on my I-pad mini can have a mind of its own.

Linking up with Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #I willwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, and Hit Your Style Sweet Spot Link-up at Over 50, Feeling 40

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When Inspiration Fails To Strike

What do you do when inspiration fails to strike? I sigh. And mooch around the house as if I'm afflicted by bored-angsty-teen syndrome. Which of course I am. Then I read. Good fiction. Or non-fiction, mostly articles. Looking for ideas. And I go for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride. And eventually when I least expect it, inspiration strikes.

High Heels in the Wilderness: When Inspiration Fails to Strike. Walking near Osgoode.
Walking near Osgoode, Ontario

Except for this week. I had all kinds of post ideas in my head, but they flew away. And my trusty topic list in my journal is not inspiring me. I'm at my Mum's in New Brunswick again, by myself this time. Hubby is at home supervising our deck rebuild and golfing his brains out. So being at Mum's, I am trying to keep the sighing to a minimum. And of course I am trying to refrain from the bored-angsty-teen syndrome thing, having inflicted that upon her once already, back in the day. And I finished one book I brought with me. And am having a hard time getting into the second. And it's been humid, or rainy, or just too darned foggy and drippy to walk. And I don't run anymore. Bad knees. And I didn't bring my bike... on the plane. So. You see my problem. Sigh.

High Heels in the Wilderness: When Inspiration Fails to Strike. The old pasture on the farm in Douglas, N.B.
Clouds and more clouds over the old pasture

Partly it's the weather. Gad, I hate a heat wave and a rainy spell all at the same time. Especially when I packed for crisp September days which is what the weather forecast had predicted. So. Inspiration-wise, I got nothin' folks. At least right now. I have lots of longer posts planned for later in the fall. Books I've read. Some more stuff on "Slow Fashion." But Sunday, when I planned to write this, and yesterday, and today... I seem to have nothin' to say. Or at least nothing worth writing about. That you might find worth reading.

Oh... except this. I recently read Christopher Brookmyre's book When the Devil Drives. Brookmyre is a Scottish writer of exceedingly wry mysteries. I really like his plots and his characters. And I love his humour. In this particular novel the main character is Jasmine Sharp, a young, sometimes hapless, former actress, now female detective. She actually puts me in mind of P.D. James' Cordelia Gray in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman... one of my favourite of James' books. Anyhoo. Jasmine's car gets torched, and her insurance won't pay for it; I told you she was hapless. However, in the epilogue Brookmyre writes that, "five days later O'Hara shows up at the office and handed her an envelope containing ten thousand pounds in cash. Shoppiness ensued."

"Shoppiness ensued." That line made me laugh out loud. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that doesn't become incorporated into my lexicon of shopping lingo.

There are some lines in some books that just make the whole book worth reading, don't you think? Or lines that seem to be speaking just to you, so much so that they stay with you, for decades. Like in Anne Tyler's novel Saint Maybe when one character is moaning about his unhappy life of drudgery and unexpected responsibility, and asking when his "real life" will start. And an older character replies, "This is your life. Lean into it." I read that probably twenty-five years ago and never forgot it. Or that line from Consequences by Penelope Lively, where she says that books "take you out of yourself and put you down somewhere else from whence you never entirely return." Sigh. Love that one too.

Oh, there are so many that I just shouldn't get started. So. That's it then. Other than a little book talk. I got nothin'... else. For now.

High Heels in the Wilderness: When Inspiration Fails to Strike. Burpee Street in Fredericton
That street has my name on it

Except. Can anybody tell me why my i-pad thinks it knows when I want to end a sentence better than I do myself? Sheesh. It puts periods and capital letters in the weirdest places! Auto-correct. Along with lack of inspiration, a primary cause of angsty-blogger syndrome.

So, dear readers, what do you do when inspiration fails you? Any tricks you can share with this angsty-blogger? Any favourite lines from a favourite book that you can share with us? Any answers for the auto-correct conundrum, that do not involve an open window and a good throwing arm?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Finding My Perfect Timeless White Shirt

I know, I know... the iconic white shirt has almost become a cliché. If you pay attention to those "Five Things Every Woman Must Have in Her Closet" articles, you'll have read that a white shirt is a "must have" in every woman's closet. Apparently. Well, I don't know about that. I mean, if you don't like white shirts, then don't wear one. And clearly we shouldn't pay attention to those silly, bossy, one-size-fits-all lists. But I will say this. I love a white shirt. Always have, since I was a kid. And a white shirt is always on my personal "must have" list. 

I mean just look at Lauren Bacall in her white shirt in the 1948 movie Key Largo. She looks cool and casual and elegant, doesn't she? And Bogie doesn't look half bad in his white shirt either. 

 Bogey and Bacall in their white shirts in Key Largo

And nobody could rock a white shirt like Elizabeth Taylor in my opinion. I love her in this shirt in a scene from the 1958 film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the notched collar, and the sleeves rolled up just so. Gosh, I love that movie. So, even if you don't want to wear a white shirt yourself, there's  no denying that it is one item of apparel that never goes out of style. It's pretty much timeless. 

Liz Taylor in her perfect white shirt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Last year I eschewed the white shirt, ignored the fact that my old Theory white shirt was looking a bit tired, and bought a blue shirt instead. I branched out, so to speak. I still love my blue Equipment shirt. But this year there was just no getting around the fact that I still needed a white shirt. With my old white shirt now looking downright exhausted... I really, really needed one. 

So I've been looking for a white shirt for a couple of months. Every time I'm out and about, in whatever store, I do the rounds of the white shirts. Most of them are too short and tailored, or too long and baggy, too wrinkly, too thin and too cheaply made. Well, you get the idea. 

Then last week, I discovered this shirt at the newly opened Massiimo Dutti store here in Ottawa. I've admired Massimo Dutti ads in fashion magazines for a couple of years, the minimalist feel, the clean lines, the classic clothes. I was excited when I emerged from the parking garage at the Rideau Centre, and there in front of me was the new Massimo Dutti store. Took me about ten minutes to find the perfect shirt. It's loose without being baggy, neither too short, nor too long. Collarless, which is nice for a change. Made of crisp cotton poplin. And with just enough seam detailing at the waist and on the sleeves to make it interesting. Perfect. 

white cotton poplin Massimo Dutti shirt
You can find this Massimo Dutti shirt here
And today I decided to try to take some shots of my timeless new white shirt. In a timeless location, you might say. At the historic mill here in Manotick. Perfect.

Historic Dickinson's Mill on the Rideau River in Manotick
Historic Dickinson Mill in Manotick on the Rideau River
Okay, to be honest, we have workers at our house demolishing our old deck in preparation for building a new one. And I just couldn't see myself prancing around our sun room posing for pictures while they were right outside the patio doors. So I scouted an alternate site on my way home from my walk this morning. The mill and the dam on the river would be perfect. But then when I arrived back at the mill this afternoon, there were workers doing repairs on the dam, so I was relegated to the little park on the far side of the river. 

My shots are pretty bad, aren't they? I'm a total newbie when it comes to "shooting on location." Ha. But, at least in this shot, you can kind of see my new grey All Saints tote that I bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in July. 

white shirt Massimo Dutti, black pants Vince, black Stuart Weitzman loafers, All Saints grey tote

And in this shot, at least you can see some of the details of the shirt. I'm also wearing my black Vince leggings and my Stuart Weitzman loafers. 

white shirt Massimo Dutti, black pants Vince, black Stuart Weitzman loafer

And in this one, bleached out as it is, at least you can see the split at the side of the shirt. And the fact that I'm wearing my new old bracelet which I bought at the Merrickville Antique Show in August. 

white shirt Massimo Dutti, black pants Vince, black Stuart Weitzman loafers

Here's a better shot of the bracelet. The vendor said that it was made by Léa Stein,  a French jewellry designer who worked in the mid twentieth century. My bracelet is probably from the sixties.

Lea Stein bracelet

And in this shot you can see that I'm a bit worried about all the bird action in this little park. Of course, as you know... me and birds... we don't get on. Crap... is that one coming down here?

white shirt Massimo Dutti, pants Vince, Stuart Weitzman loafers, All Saints bag

So while my very first "shoot on location" was not perfect. My new white shirt is. A versatile addition to my curated closet, it will go equally well with dressy pants or with jeans. Under a coat sweater, or a jean jacket, or a blazer. With or without a scarf. 

So I've been thinking, instead of reading all those lists written by other people who say what we "must have" in our closets. Maybe we should make our own list. Scratch that. We should definitely make our own list. Five things we "must have" in our closet. And if they wear out we "must replace" them. My list would include great blue jeans, black pants, a heavy turtleneck, a good blazer, and a white shirt. I have other pieces, of course, which I love equally as much. But these pieces are always there. They always get replaced when they wear out. Decade after decade. They're timeless, at least in my closet. 

Your list might be completely different.

So do tell, friends, what five things must you have in your closet? And does that list include a white shirt?

Linking up this week with these great blogs: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, Friday Finds at Forage Fashion, and Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun.