Friday, 24 April 2015

Sometimes I Paint and Sometimes I Wear Nice Clothes but Not At The Same Time

Up and dressed for a bit of getting out -going on the bi-monthly lunch date I have with my parents-  and I decided to try an old trend, a trend I hope is dying because I hate to be trendy: socks with dressy shoes.  I remembered to smile in the first picture but apparently that was so exhausting I didn't in the second picture.




The teal blue back-pack is my new pride and joy.  It carries my lap top and a lot of other stuff-notebooks etc for outings and day trips and writing time at the cafe.  I read somewhere that women my age are not supposed to wear socks with their shoes or carry backpacks but it is too late; I had never known this so I am continuing to ignore this ridiculous rule. I did other rebellious things here too like ignore my leg stubble.

Here, I've cropped out my RBF to model my home-made necklace. It doesn't really show up well but the pendant is attached to the beads with a funky safety pin.


And of course I saved the best person for last.  This is my dear friend, Sheila.  My writing partner and a woman who may look very gentle (and she is) but her hobbies are fierce- Muay Thai (similar to kick boxing) dragon boat racing and outrigger canoeing!


             The usual disclaimer: she is more gorgeous than I made her!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Prepping for a Poetry Night



Spanish bluebells plopped hastily in a green jug.


I never plan a blogging break, but end up just falling off the face of the blog world once in awhile, hibernating and coping with the usual set of symptoms.  It's generally a break from many things and not just blogging, as my love of people is perhaps equal only to my tendency to be exhausted by them.

I am working on building up courage and physical stamina to participate in a woman-celebrating poetry night at one of my favourite cafes.  I'm told other art forms are welcome too so I am thinking of bringing some artwork along as well. It's in a week and in that time I hope to complete one more portrait, edit my poems and select a few to read.  I thought I would share a few early drafts  here.

Martha Stewart

Of the wisest words the sages tell
It's "Pick one thing and do it well"
That to me is only senseless babble
Because I rather like to dabble.

So yesterday I took a class
On how to build a house with glass.
Then later on I had to learn
Just how to use a butter churn,

Because I've been watching Martha Stewart
And she makes it seem there's nothing to it.
Just make a gourmet feast for ten
And learn to keep Rhode Island hen.

Plant a garden, build a shed.
It's a good thing, Martha said.
Sew a quilt and paint the walls,
Hook carpets for the entry halls.

There's one more thing to do today-
Go out and pick a fresh bouquet.
Arrange it in a hollow melon.
Why do we listen to this felon?

Lessons From the Women

Be you, be fierce, be strong
Be bold and loud-laugh and talk
Wear red lipstick and green eyeshadow

But only if you wish to.

Be fat, be thin, be bald, wear hats or bows
In your hair.
What you look like isn't who you are

Unless you want it to be.

Be gentle and still, be quiet.
Crochet blankets, tend the garden
Speak softly and carry a large paddle.

If this is right for you.

Stay home. Go out. Dance or sleep-
Be who you are and love who you are....
Then love others.

Be kind.

Embrace your sisters for they
Are as you Are: All of these things
Or none of these things.

All women.


Expectations

I expect my brain to work miracles, I think.
I sit down and say to it, ‘Okay now, write something brilliant’.
Because I know there are some brilliant thoughts
And deep insights in there somewhere.
I sense them. 
Mostly just when I am about to fall asleep.

I expect other people to be nice.
Really nice, because I am nice and it seems so easy.
I don’t take any credit for it so if I can do it
So can you.
But some people aren’t nice.
And I am always, ALWAYS surprised.

I expect my body to be perfect and I don’t even
Know what that means really but
I have a vague idea based on models and fitness and
Photoshopped images but it’s more than that.
I expect health  and stamina and vigour
And it eludes me.

I read that we should let go of expectations
And just be grateful for what comes.
Don’t do that-you can get hurt that way-really hurt.
We have to figure out what to expect and what not to
We have to figure out who we are and where we are
I expect this to take a lifetime.


Against Photoshop

I love you, chubby ankles
I love you, thickened waist.
Shhhh-yes I am lying-but
At least now I am trying
And refuse to be erased.


How I Carry On

Oh, I do drugs, you know
But just the legal kind,
Or else the daily ebb and flow
Would wash away my mind.

The pit so dark and deep where I
Sit slumped in the bottom slime and
Slippery, muddy walls so high
Prove impossible to climb.

Send me a ladder, or at least a rope.
Don’t leave me to struggle in vain.
Each one of us must cling to hope
And get on our path again.

My journey’s one you do not know.
The path I take is mine.
Each one of us has our way to go
And we find that way in time.

I just take each day as it will come,
Expect nothing beyond a new dawn.
I know it’s easier said than done
But it’s how I carry on.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Dressing For Spring Weather

Where I live Spring can be one of the most challenging seasons to dress for.  There is a psychological component to this because with Spring generally comes more sunshine than we have had all winter and yes, it is warmer but it is not necessarily warm.  One longs to shed the winter clothing but clothing suited to the summer temperatures are still not warm enough unless worn in layers.  Admittedly I live in the balmy part of a Canada, and while I am trying to figure out what to wear on a sunny but still cool day, my brother and his family in Nova Scotia are still getting snow.  Here, I am just getting brave enough to bare my legs and I generally forgo a coat or jacket when I go out.  I wear some of the same things I wear in winter but leave off a layer or two and switch to shoes instead of boots.

Brown is for Spring because I like brown.  This outfit was for a sunny but cool day and I changed my shoes to flats before going out but I wanted to show off the new to me pair here.  Being a higher heel these feel like formal shoes to me.  Extra conditioner on my hair has it in slightly bettter control than the frizz-lumps of the photo below and here my bare legs are not too far off the ivory coloured tights in the second outfit.  My ancestry is British and Icelandic.  I am inclined to think I can see a bit of the Viking Woman in these photos.  Must get myself a horn helmet.




Grey is for Spring because I said so.  The day I wore this outfit it was cold, grey, windy and spitting.  I couldn't go bare legged so I dug out the lightest coloured tights I own, which are an ivory colour that is not actually far from what my bare legs look like.  Not too many people would think they were buying nude tights when they bought these!   Frizzy lumpy hair is getting annoying.




I have hair that is a mixture of loose curls in some spots, waves in others and then spots that are straight or have one bend.  I have not yet found the right product or technique  to prevent it looking like a fuzzy mushroom when dried though I have scoured the internet and tried several things.

I am also quite undecided about my bangs/fringe.  I suspect that I look better with one but I hate hair on my forehead.  What to do?

Smiles are for Spring too.  This is my dear friend, Meg who has a very lovely smile but can also be very fierce if she needs to be.  She is also much prettier than I made her but she will forgive me.



Now I have three on my shelf of Hot Babes  I like painting flowers but I like painting women even more.  I have mentioned before that my process tends to involve a major stopping point and then a month or two of examining and tweaking so the babes on the shelf are just hanging out in case they want a tweak.  They tell me what they really want is wine.




Linking up to Sheila's Shoe Shine with my new-to-me shoes.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Granny Chic


Two posts on the same date, just because I forgot about Visible Monday and wanted this one for Visible Monday.



You thought I had given up colour didn't you?  You thought that by embracing muted tones I meant grey and beige all the time.  I confess to liking grey and beige and to often preferring them in winter.  It seems I select colours to coordinate with the seasons rather than to combat them.  In spring I always want pink and purple- rhododendron colours.  Come summer I will gravitate more towards the blues, greens and teals that feel a bit cooler.  But as the sun gets stronger my colours get more saturated.  This purple dress is a find from my favourite consignment shop.  It appears to be home made and well done and the colours and subtle pattern called to me from across the room.  It's still cool enough that I need layers, so a peplum shirt over and a cardi for going out do the trick.  This cardigan, which you have seen a few times already has become a favourite.  Not only is it a favourite colour but the style and fit of this cardigan are just perfect.  Sometimes I have favourite items of which I wish I could have multiples in several colours and this cardigan is one of them.  I wear a lot of cardigans year round as easy to take off and put on again layers are a must in this climate.  With my penchant for cardigans and lace up booties I suppose I have a tendency towards granny chic.  Especially when I wear my reading glasses half way down my nose.  At least now that I am no longer teaching I have stopped wearing them on a cord around my neck.




Pink and purple together suit my preference for analogous pairings and also mark a return to a childhood favourite, though I confess that the eight year old me liked a pink and purple somewhat more suited to a Disney princess.  I begged my mother for a fuchsia and violet shag rug in my bedroom but she vetoed it and chose a blue one in regular cut pile.  I was given frilly purple and mauve bedding and curtains instead.  Something more easily changed when my teenaged self wanted an upgrade.  Now I have my favourite versions of purple and pink, which I like to describe with words like violet and rose or Victorian plum.

The basic at home look is more like this....


And I really like sitting on the floor so I am often found there.  Just hanging out with balls of wool, as Grannies do.



I miss my garden full of rhododendrons (25 of them at last count) but at least I can dress like one.  What is your favourite Spring colour?

I am linking up with Patti's Visible Monday because I am all organised and ready for it and it's a good place to hang out with fantastic women.

The Best Compliments are a bit Awkward

 It has come to my attention that just as many people found my blog by searching 'best ass on the internet' as they did searching 'lagenlook'.  I can only imagine the disappointment of the ass-searching people so I have found a really good ass to feature here.  Isn't it the sweetest ass you have ever seen?

                                                Image Source


 And Now on with the regularly scheduled programme.....

Recently the cleaning girls came.  Usually there are two of them but this time there were three, a new one was being trained as my two regulars are leaving.  Apparently the company is terrible to work for and people are quitting constantly.  It leaves me undecided about what to do, as I don't wish to support a bad company but whomever the next people are who get assigned to cleaning my home need jobs too.  Anyhow, putting that concern aside for the moment, I was amused but pleased to overhear the new girl commenting to the other two about my home.  I heard things like, "Oh my God this home is so eclectic; I just love an eclectic home."  And also, "Oh I love that mirror and I love this too.  When I see things like this I always wonder, where do people find this stuff?"  Several minutes later, she repeated similar sentiments to me personally.  I explained that many of my things, particularly furniture, are hand me downs and inherited things from family  "Oh", she said, "I am always trying to convince my grandparents to give me their stuff."  To which I replied, "Well, mine are actually dead."  It seemed rather pertinent at the time but sounds a little callous now.

Internet websites as well as many popular magazines abound with porn (no this is not a totally random topic switch) and not just the naked humans kind.  There is food porn, house porn, fashion porn and probably plenty  of other types.  On popular blogs, Pinterest and Instagram  there is something known as lifestyle porn and also lifespo (which is lifestyle-inspiration just as there is fitspo and thinspo and probaby others)  Like many people I do enjoy beautiful images but I am well aware that everything we see, not just the models in Vogue, is styled, photo-shopped and presented at the very best angle and with the very best light etc.  Along with all of these inspiration images has come the over-used term 'curated' and while  once curating was something done in a museum or art gallery it is now something people claim to do with their homes, their possessions, their wardrobes.  It is fancy talk for either selecting only what you truly love or, if you are very confident about your taste, selecting only what is truly good.  Some people collect curated images of curated lives.  How complicated this all gets and yet in so much of it the proponents are claiming to achieve and be promoting a sort of minimalism!

I have very minimal photo re-touching skills, and a limited version of iphoto in which to do it.  At most I straighten, crop or make up for the cloudy grey weather by adjusting the light on my uploaded photo.  The ability to straighten the photo after uploading it has made me shockingly lazy about putting the camera onto the tripod properly to begin with.  I don't use Instagram and I don't know as much about my camera as I should so I am clueless about filters.  I didn't even understand that people were using them until quite recently but I did wonder why so many Instagram photos had a that sort of faded, dissolving, I-was-taken-using-that-awful-film- of-the-seventies look.  Now, I get it.  It's a thing.  So while I understood that images in magazines were far from realistic, it took me longer to realise that many blogs had a high degree of fakery styling done to the images.  

Sure we all generally want to present ourselves in our best light literally, so we take ten outfit photos to pick two we think look good, or we take photos of our decorated living room to share on our blog but not the disaster of a den that we haven't yet gotten around to fixing up and is still storing the baby carriage and crib we last needed twenty years ago.  Who wants to see that?  Blogs are meant to be inspirational, right?  Well actually, it had not occurred to me that they were all supposed to be inspirational and I tend to favour the more realistic ones.  A blog in which I see one or two fuzzy photos a day of a  skinny girl with beach-wave hair posed nicely on her beautiful sofa or artfully disheveled bed, drinking tea or making it in her picturesque but minimalist kitchen is, in my opinion, rather dull.  

During a recent insomniatic night, while aimlessly wandering the internet and following suggestions from Sally's Lovely Links, on her blog Already Pretty, I came upon a couple of sites ranting about this phenomenon they were calling the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl.  This is a variation on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of course, and she could even be both manic and minimalist.  This highly curated concept minimalism is very popular right now in decor, wardrobe and lifestyle, all being very white and expensive but supposedly looking effortless and artless.  I suspect it is a very American fascination and is tied in with the also very American fascination with the mythic French chic.  

Since I am not much attracted to minimalism myself, I am a bit immune to the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl's charms, whether she is promoting her wardrobe, her home or her lifestyle.  But there is a so called bohemian version of this too and my Pinterest boards are full of these images.  In them there are rooms full of books and plants and candles and sticks of incense just like my own home, but they are usually contained in a building with impressive architecture, wood floors and huge windows, there is a turntable and a vast collection of old vinyl because hipster and boho sort of overlaps in internet land.  All of these images are designed to make us want something other than what we have or to somehow improve on what we have.  Maybe we need less of something, maybe more, but somehow we are not getting it quite right, are not as cool, effortless or beautiful as the people in the images.  We expect this from a magazine but it seems many people were caught off guard in discovering it exists in blogs too.

So, fashion bloggers photo-shop themselves thinner and model free designer clothing they were given.  Lifestyle bloggers are pretending their visually gorgeous simple life is easy and inexpensive when probably it is not.  Whether or not we should rail against this or just sigh and move on depends on what battles you plan to pick.   Whether or not railing against this constitutes not supporting other women or whether it doesn't is something my brain will be working on for awhile.  I see the points being made in both arguments and I am not sure which side has persuaded me and maybe neither ever will.  I do believe in women supporting women.  I do believe that women are often highly competitive and deliberately undermine each other.  I believe there is a way of calling out questionable practices without accusing the individals of being bad people but having said that, if someone criticised how I present myself on my blog I would absolutely take it personally and be hurt.  I am not selling anything and I am not making any money from my blog.  I am a small fish in an enormous pond so I don't expect anyone to actually care how I present myself.

I did decided to take some photos of my home that are a little bit different.  They are totally real and I really like them because they show imperfection.  I also think they show beauty.  There is no photo here of a pile of dishes in the sink or the food Miss Mathilda has spilled all over the floor, though my hideous green and yellow cork kitchen floor does show up in the background of my photos often.  It cannot be hidden!  The photos below are snapped quickly.  They are imperfect photos of imperfect but much loved spots in my home.  I think that if my blog is about anything it is about the joys of imperfection.  Go ahead, be inspired to aim for imperfection too.

I call this one Nearly Dead Flowers for the obvious reasons.  It usually takes me a couple of days to clear away a bouquet that has expired.  I hate the wall colour and this is by no means a minimalist setting.  Whether or not you are inspired is up to you.  Other notes:  my tea is just regular breakfast blend from the grocery store and it is only a happy accident that the glasses cleaning cloth matches the flowers.




This one is called Unfolded Laundry and features clean but crumpled bedsheets and a basket full of unrolled socks.  On the floor, sitting on top a discarded pair of jeans is my hair dryer.  I sit there in that spot to dry my hair because all sophisticated grown women sit on the floor to do their hair.   Other notes:  I really dislike the beige carpet and I got paint splotches on it that I couldn't clean off when I painted the room last summer.


And also in my bedroom, this one is called Morning. Pixie dream girls are often sitting on artfully rumpled pure white beds and while I think my bed is very pretty, I would have a different frame if I could and this rumpledness, which includes pink pyjamas discarded at the foot of the bed and fuzzy pink socks and a big white hoodie for wearing when I am up late and cold, this rumpledness is exactly how everything looked when I sat up, pushed the covers back and got out of bed.  It stayed this way all day.  Why make the bed when it looks this great? Other notes:  the curtain situation is still an unfinished one and I am contemplating getting blinds for the window as well.  There is too much light at night.


The photo could do with a bit of straightening but I am too tired to bother.  Vivre L'imperfection!

Sources for further reading:

The Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl, Who She is and Why I Hate Her

The Trouble With Lifestyle Blogger Envy

Your Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl Does Not Exist


Friday, 3 April 2015

Creative Baby Steps

There is my creative work and then there is all the other stuff I do.  Mostly that other stuff I think of as filler, as something I do when too tired physically or mentally to work properly.  Because this happens often, it's time for me to reevaluate how I think about this other stuff.  It's time to stop relegating it to a category of unimportance and consider it valuable as well.  I cannot exist in a life designed purely to entertain myself without sinking into depression. Like most people, I need a sense of purpose.  Fortunately for me I do have passions, but being prohibited from working on those passions by a body or brain that are refusing to cooperate with the requirements can leave me with idle and dull days of just passing time.  It is not a life of leisure; it is a form of imprisonment when your body cannot sustain sitting up, even supported, and your arms and hands cannot sustain enough range of movement even for knitting.  When your brain refuses to concentrate and you re-read the same sentence over and over several times not taking it in or making sense of it, this is not a life of leisure. 

If one more person makes a suggestion for treatment, as though I am not doing everything that can be done already, or have not tried and abandoned all sorts of nonsense out of desperation, if one more person says to me how they envy me and would love to have this leisurely life, I will be so angry I will....I will...probably write about it in this blog.   I am not actually any good at anger, though I am pretty skilled at being indignant.  I also have some reasonable skills for coping and I'm going to share them, along with my skills at layering.

It really helps to be flexible, to be able to see things from a different angle if you find yourself frustrated by where you are.  Not only can I lean to the right in a doorway, but I can also lean to the left.  



So in keeping with being able to lean left or right, I am reminding myself that there are other angles I can take on my frustrated days.  Instead of trivialising what I do when I am less able, I will remind myself that it is all part of how I seek inspiration and fuel for creativity.  Whatever I am taking in, whether it is imagery or text, is all part of what feeds my experiences that influence output.  It is easy for me to get focused on output or lack of it and to forget that I need input as well.  Yes, I wish I could have a bit more input from walks in nature parks or at the beach, or losing myself in a crowd downtown.  But focusing on what I do have instead of on what I don't have is a much better way to remain happy and so I remember that every little bit counts.  On some days I take creative baby steps.
  
I make notes on my ideas
I collect inspiring images online. 
I write in my journal and don't worry if it makes sense or not. 
I read things in small chunks so as to better process them 
I plan an outfit to look forward to wearing on my next non bedridden day.
If I can spend a couple of hours in a cafe, I can people watch and eavesdrop.

I have learned how to adapt, just as when I was a teacher I would adapt the environment or lessons for students with special needs; I must adapt things for myself as well.  For some reason, possibly to do with the low blood volume a person with ME supposedly has (my blood volume has not been measure but my symptoms fit the low blood volume theory) I can often function better mentally or regain some physical energy by periods of lying down.  I can still read and write when lying down though admittedly painting in bed is not ideal.   I may not read and write as well, but I can dabble at it.  Or lying down all afternoon may allow me to paint for a few hours in the evening.

The require attitude adjustment is that all of these little bits feed my creative output.  They have value and I must recognise it.

And now, here is the intellectual version of today's outfit. It is accessorised with glasses, a serious frown and a double chin.


And while Coco Chanel may have preferred to take one accessory off at the last minute, I am usually inclined to add one or two.  In this case, I added a leather bracelet and my watch.



Thursday, 2 April 2015

Just Me Philosophising and Standing in the Doorway

                  Walking My Middle Path

I have written before about how I am a very medium sort of person.  I can find many ways to describe most of my features and qualities as medium, but I will try not to bore you with those here.  A decade ago I spent a few years studying Buddhism, in a manner which some Buddhists would say is quite wrong because I did not have a teacher.  But tell me I am doing something wrong and I am all the more likely to keep on doing it that way.  My stubborn streak is a little more than medium sized.  I read a wide array of books written about Buddhism by Buddhists, subscribed to a couple of magazines, attended one group event and disliked it, engaged an online teacher and made him angry with me and refuse to teach me (I asked questions and did not just follow instructions) which lead me to decide he was not a very good Buddhist.  Eventually my  conclusion was that the philosophy of Buddhism aligns quite well with my own personal philosophy and I had many aha moments.  I am living a lay-Buddhist practice without bothering to call it that and being a very non-religious person I step widely around any religious trappings.  In this way, I believe I am actually doing exactly what The Buddha advised, which is to walk the middle path.

In western culture we often talk about seeking balance, which is really a synonym for the middle way.  My path and your path will not be exactly the same, just as what is balance for me and what is balance for you will not be exactly the same but the paths lead to the same place, happiness.  And if we find our balance we find our happiness.  I use the term happiness here as a very large umbrella and am not intending to assign any construct to it.  I alone decided what happiness is for myself, how to find it and keep it and you do the same.  Buddhism does teach a way to get onto the right path, and these teachings make sense to me.  It is not my purpose here to outline or attempt to teach those but I will recommend some books at the end.  Today I am thinking about the right-for-me balance between confidence and humility.  I have grappled with this most of my life, both in sorting out my own instincts and what I have been taught and how those fit within my culture. 

I have noticed two different, and practically opposite types of women who both feel they do not fit the mould. 
I know women who are exuberant, loud, colourful, bold and although they have the confidence to be so, they say oh I am this way despite always being told it is not feminine, it is not right, I must be quiet and demure.  I do not doubt their experience but mine is opposite.  I am naturally quiet and demure.  I was raised to be ladylike, though I must add, not subservient or docile.  I did not feel a need to rebel against that since it suited my nature well enough, but when not amongst my family I often felt like quite a misfit.  It seemed to me that I was dull, boring, a disappointment to my peers and not well equipped to get ahead in life in a world where I would need to stand out and self promote in order to do so.  I think that both of these experiences are valid even though they are quite opposite and that as odd as it seems, they can actually both exist in the same culture.  We must feel free to be whichever way is true to who we are.  We must celebrate and support all kinds of women and all ways of being women.  No one way is better or worse than another.




Mixed Greens

And here are the much anticipated bloomer-ish pants.  Not being elasticated at the ankles I don't know if they are technically bloomers or just really big pants.  They have a nice flat yoke across the tummy and a drawstring waist and are definitely voluminous around the hips and bottom.  I am not a fan of the gold metallic threads at the bottom but will live with them. Here, it looks more like a skirt.

So here I am doing my morning calisthenics and demonstrating the pantaloons.

               This is a total man-repeller outfit which delights me to no end but the tunic dress needs its green brightened up a little.  On its own it looks a soft sage but next to other colours it turns drab.


 Suggested Books To Start With:  These are meant for a non-religious approach to Buddhism, incorporating its philosophy into your own religious or secular views.

The Art of Happiness, by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler.

Buddhism Without Beliefs, Stephen Batchelor