Friday, 27 March 2015

Miss Mathilda and I Carry On

I don't know what Matty's name is short for but I have decided that surely it must be short for Mathilda.  She is Miss Mathilda without a doubt and she knows which colours suit her best and selects her chairs accordingly.


                       Sometimes I am allowed to sit nearby and worship.


When not tending to the needs and desires of Miss Mathilda, and when not in bed recovering from anything I may have done lately such as grocery shopping, I have been doing as much writing as I can and happily have been back at my easel lately too.  When spring arrives I always find myself wanting to wear more pink and purple.  I strung this necklace of purple, pink and white glass beads one day on a whim and on another day I happily piled on the pink thrift shop lagens and went off to hang out at a cafe and pretend I am a writer.

I call this look Little Bo Peep Flapper.  The dress is a happy thrift shop find but it does have a wee hole that needs mending.   Here is the indoor look and the bundled for outside look.



I have decided that while I am slimmer than my clothes sometimes make me look, I am getting tired of caring.

And now, the latest blobs on a canvas:

A work in progress as always, this still life I'm working on actually sort of had a model.  I work from my imagination mainly but once, a few months ago, I arranged some fruit in a bowl and thought it looked nice and took a picture and then lost the picture.  This painting is based on that.


It's the weekend and while that doesn't really mean much in my world, for some reason it is the time when I try to get around to visit my favourite blogs.  I am hopelessly behind, I know, but then I am hopelessly behind at everything.

May you and yours have a lovely weekend.  Miss Mathilda wishes fish on a dish for you and I wish sunshine.

Oh My Goodness I am linking up to Sheila's Shoe Shine to show off these shoes which I love and to just hang out with all the cool people.   Come on over because Sheila is pretty amazing and her blog is awesome.

Monday, 23 March 2015

I'm Going Where the Weather Suits My Clothes

 I asked my Russian Supermodel cousin, Shawnya McCombrenova to come by and model a lagenlook for you.  It is definitely a very suitable cafe outfit and that is, in fact where it went.  She has some sassier poses for you than I do.




When it's just me posing you only get door frame leaning.  I asked my cousin to demonstrate that.  You know, just to illustrate the contrast.



The boot socks made from sweater sleeves must be shown off to.  



Rainy windy, grey days have continued.  March has decided to go out like a lion.  My son, who is off on a trip to Cuba with his Dad's family, came around a couple of days ago for a visit and haircut. We went out to dinner together, to a cute little Italian bistro with great food and more than just pasta.  At one point we were discussing personal appearance and the perceptions of others and I said, well some people think I look like an elegant, nerdy, intellectual.  (Thanks Jan, I do love that one)  I waited for him to say oh yes, you do.  And he did.  Sort of.   He said, 'Oh yes, you have always reminded me of Velma from Scooby Doo.'

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He's my son, so I am guessing he meant the one on the left.  She does have the doorway pose mastered, I must admit.





Saturday, 21 March 2015

My Style Lessons Part Three: Boho

Look here I am being a boho babe!  I like to stand around in doorways being all babelicious.  This is a not -leaving- home -today outfit.  It's a bit blingy and I would prefer the silver to get a bit tarnished. Actually I would prefer some wood beads mixed in.  I'll get on that.  This boob-minimising stretch lace dress looks a bit too night club for my liking when worn with bare legs.  When paired with jeans it's a bit of a what -the -hell -is -she- doing look which I prefer.  These are my bit-too-baggy pre-menstrual jeans.  Don't we all have those?  The dress and the jeans are on my probably not keeping list, but this was a moment of giving them another chance.


 I will get hot and cold alternately all day just to annoy Katy Perry, so sometimes a cardigan will be utilised.  As will a really fake smile that looks more like a baring of teeth.  And who needs socks or shoes?  This is not a classic look but since it's also not a no-effort look that makes it boho by my definition.



Here is an example of a look I love but could not comfortably wear.  The colour is right for me and so is the boho vibe, but even assuming I did add pants or a skirt the heavy belt would drive me crazy and the voluminous top would make me look voluminous myself.  I could tolerate the belt for a special occasion event.  My willingness to be slightly uncomfortable increases if the goal is to stand around and look pretty for a short while.   I might pair this with a maxi skirt and wear it to a party.  I would definitely not wear it around the house.  I do not go to parties. 


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 Although I will sometimes wear my skirts and dresses boho style, it is essentially my preferred look for styling jeans.  I don't really like the term boho and what it conjures in my mind (a stylist invented look with a prescribed wardrobe of denim, short cut-offs, lace, maxi skirts, cowboy boots, anything 'ethnic' looking, felt floppy hats and gladiator sandals) but I have to own up to it.  I do indeed do Boho almost by default, but I try to do it my way.  It has been a favourite style my whole life and I even had boho leanings as a child in the seventies when my favourite style icon was Rhoda Morgenstern .  I was a terrible misfit for eighties style because of this and basically I seem to have been born ten years too late.

With jeans I am more likely to wear a top with more volume. A peasant blouse or a slouchy sweater, contrasting the volume on top with a slim line on bottom.
I would wear something like this look below, though I might front-tuck the blouse. My accessories choices tend to be boho in style, particularly my jewelry and handbags.  I don't deliberately try to make an outfit look boho it's just that what I add to it will make it more so.

If I wanted to put pearls with something I would not choose these:

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But I nearly got lost for a day looking at earrings like these, which I would happily pair with my jeans.

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I do own some classic simple pearl pieces, since pearl is my birthstone.  I tend to pair them with other things, so I will put my string of pearls with heavy silver chains, for instance or a necklace of beads or shells.

This is a simple boho look I would wear around the house.
Note: orange is not my best colour.

                        Image found on Pinterest pinned from this blog

Boho Elements I love:

Denim
Lace
Gauzy fabric
Velvet
Corduroy (poor woman's velvet)
Brown leather boots or sandals
Sliver and pewter rustic jewelery or Celtic style jewelry-especially earring and finger rings
Semi-precious and unpolished stones
Messy hair and braids
Hand crafted accessories
Maxi skirts
Some 'ethnic' patterns though this is now controversial
Earth tones though they are not my best colours
Scarves
Fringe
Embroidery
Large unstructured bags-totes or cross body

This is my ideal pair of jeans. (without the rips)  Finding jeans that fit well is not an easy thing and mine never fit like I am hoping they will.  At least I can now get them long enough.  I like my flares to drag on the ground just slightly.  I want the hem to get frayed.  Where I live, that makes flares a poor choice from mid October through to May because the ground is often wet.  Flares are my summer jean of choice.
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I would wear them like this image below, and just as shown here, I have learned it looks best on my if I front-tuck a voluminous blouse.  I have also learned not to buy these blouses in a size too big unless I am buying it new and it is rayon, which always seems to shrink even when washed in cold.

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Here is a boho-cardigan look I love.  I would wear this with jeans but I am going to share with you what I have learned about cardigans and my body type.

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A cardigan makes an attractive layer, it adds a bit of warmth when needed, but it can also add bulk.  I realised that I don't actually do up my cardigans, if I am that cold I need to dress differently or get a blanket!  Buying cardigans that will do up over my chest usually resulted in buying a size that is too big for the rest of me and a cardigan is not a garment you take to the tailor.  I am more flattered by a snug fit, where the cardigan frames the top I am wearing and hugs the sides of my body.  This cardigan above has a loose, draped look to it which I am definitely attracted to but it may not be as flattering on me as I would hope. I would have to be careful not to get it in too big a size. 

Instead of copying the boho-chic looks easily found all over Pinterest or blogs, I just allow all of these elements which I love anyhow to be part of how I often dress.  I don't feel obligated to assemble an outfit following any rules.  I will likely pair Mary-Jane shoes with a maxi skirt instead of gladiator sandals or cowboy boots.  I don't live in Southern California, Arizona or Nevada, so that American South-West version of boho feels like a costume to me.  With the exception of a pair of western-style boots and some turquoise and silver jewelry, I don't deliberately go for the Navajo inspired look.  After all, I still remember when those Navajo sofas were a trend.

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Navajo textiles are gorgeous and I would definitely buy a rug or pillow from an actual Navajo seller.

The boho look is very much associated with images that could be considered cultural appropriation but even if items are purchased from original artisans it can sometimes feel to me as though it is a bit fake to adorn oneself so much in images that represent a culture that is not my own and not one I travel to visit.  An internet search quickly reveals that the boho look is heavily influenced by anything perceived to look gypsy-like First Nations/American Indian, South American, African, Indian, Mexican, and is clearly not W.A.S.P.   The idea is to represent all your travels or to appear as though you do travel.  Because I cannot travel, this can look a bit fake and poseur to me, even though I usually like such items.  The original intention behind embracing items made by other cultures was often a way of appearing non-conventional but it was also a way of being decorative without spending a lot of money.  Hand crafted and slightly rustic items appeal to me, but many are still a bit pricey for me.  I buy things second hand that are cast offs from other people's travels but try to avoid a globetrotting wanderer sort of look.    I look for locally handcrafted jewelry pieces and vintage or antique pieces and mix them with simple wood beads. I am crazy for Celtic jewelry and given my ancestry I think I am entitled to wear it.

Here's another picture for those of you who were patient. Sorry it is a bit dark.  You were just waiting for more pictures of me, weren't you?  This is very casual at home boho.  The linen tunic was once black but I bleached it to brown which I prefer.  The jeans are cropped at ankle length which I don't really like so I prefer to roll them up.  I think this goes back to the days when most jeans were too short for me and looked cropped even though cropped was not fashionable.   The casual cotton cardigan is a favourite and if you think it is still bulky and big you haven't seen what I used to wear.  It was white but I dyed it to my favourite plum-rose colour.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

My Style Lessons Part Two: Lagenlook


Lagenlook, which means layered look, is a style instinctive in me.  I have always liked to wear layers not only for comfort but for the look.  Layers are so instinctive for me I even have two layered front doormats!  My hair is layered. I am a layering sort of person, no doubt.   I also find, for reasons I cannot clearly explain, that I like the physical weight of wearing layers and prefer it on all but the most sweltering of summer days.  I like lots of layers in my bedding too.  There is something about the weight that feels right to me, as though I somehow fear that I am going to float away.
                                
I am strongly attracted to some designer Lagenlooks and especially to a very Victorian Lagenlook.  Both could easily make me feel like I am wearing a costume but experimenting is teaching me how to borrow elements or re-create similar looks from separately accumulated pieces.  The Victorian inspired look below has the required trim torso shape but the different coloured skirts are too busy for me.  These designer pieces are also way beyond my budget.                                             



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I think of this above look as suffragette-librarian.  Somehow that seems quite suited to me.

I love this ensemble but it looks so obviously like it is a set created by a designer that I would feel I am in a costume. I use it as inspiration and note that this is a jacket type I think I could comfortably wear and which would be flattering on me so long as it gives subtle waist definition.  For my subtle waist.  Also, while I admit to a fondness for a rumpled look and a lack of desire to iron, this is just a bit too much like it was slept in all week.

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This coat looks like a style that would be flattering on me and I could comfortably wear.  It also looks like something I could potentially make some day.

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In this type of Lagenlook pictured below, I appear as though the birth of my baby is imminent.  I have tried and abandoned this style, always feeling sort of lost in the clothes.  The bright colours and chunky beads are also not me but they suit this style well.  This look screams middle aged female artist, which is what I am, but this look is not for me. 

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There is a wide range of what is categorised as Lagenlook and it has a sister style in the Mori look. I don't worry about whether or not I am doing either or doing it right.  My lagens sometimes skew Mori because the ten year old me would have loved the Mori-girl style.  If it gets too girly and frilly I feel silly though and it has a costumey feel.

A skirt like this one seems both Lagenlook and boho, with a touch of pirate woman.  I have skirts like this already and would probably scoop this one up if I came across it in a thrift shop.With a peasant blouse and sandals it's great for summer boho.  With another skirt underneath and a long sleeved top with a waistcoat, a scarf, some fingerless gloves and some lace up boots, I'd consider it a perfect winter Lagenlook.



A note on bloomers and voluminous pants:

I have yet to try them though I am tempted.  I found a pair of bloomers in a thrift shop and they await a dye bath to tone down the bright spring green.  I intend to experiment with them as the weather warms up.  I have some slightly baggy cropped pants but nothing as voluminous as I often see in lagenlook images.  I don't want to spend much money experimenting with this but perhaps a sewing project is in the cards.  Most store purchased pants, voluminous or not, are too short for me unless I want to pretend they are cropped pants.

This combination appeals to me.  The overall silhouette is similar to a tunic sweater worn with a maxi skirt.  I am dreaming of these trousers made in wool jersey for winter and linen for summer.

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I am attracted to the pants that read as a skirt and offer a clean, flat waistline like these ones.

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And to bloomers under a skirt that read like an underskirt. I would definitely  wear this whole look.


Cropped full trousers with this style detail at the hem also really appeal to me, though I am wondering if they look better with heels.  (Is it just me or does this poor model look like her feet are stuffed into shoes that are too small?)

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I believe that a pattern for these pants above, or something very similar, is available from the Marci Tilton sewing patterns.  This is where I would like to go next with my experimenting.  I hope to make a pair of pants this Spring, but first I will try wearing my thrift shop bloomers.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

My Style lessons From the Past Year: Part One

It feels as though my experimenting is mostly done.  It was, in the end, very much an exercise in learning what I did not want in my closet or on my body.  I tried many things which have not all been shown on the blog.  I experimented with colours, styles and fabrics and I have also learned a great deal about what is actually available to me locally.  There are significant limitations not only to what I can find new in retail but also in what shows up in the second hand shops.  I have been through an extensive process of binging and purging, accumulating clothing in order to experiment but continuously taking things out to donate or sell and most of what came in went back out again.  At times I worry that it has been a waste of money, but I try to look at it as a purchased experience. I have never been very keen on purchased experiences and always prefer to get something concrete for my money.  So that in itself has been an interesting set of lessons.

In the proverbial nutshell (and I do like nuts), I have settled into a habit of wearing jeans with a sweater if I have no intention of leaving home and creating an outfit I enjoy with a dress or skirt if I do intend to go out, even just to the grocery store. This changes a bit in summer when a loose dress is the best thing for a hot day even at home.  Although I want to look nice and wear items that visually appeal to me comfort is always first and for that I need things to move with me, feel soft enough and keep me at the appropriate temperature.  On a moderately good day, a day when I am able to get up and shower and dress but spend most of the day sitting cross legged on the sofa, I will pretty up my jeans and sweater with jewelry and have lately taken to wearing a bit of eye makeup.  I know!  How odd.  It grew from a desire to detract from the big dark circles I have developed.  Looking your best can help psychologically even if it doesn't cure any illnesses.

                              Here are 25 things I have learned. 

1.   I do not have easy access to much variety or quality clothing to my taste (quality pieces on offer here tend to be classic styles) but it is worth paying for quality items new if I make a good choice.  Even if five dollars is spent on the wrong thing it is still five dollars wasted. Experimenting with lower cost second hand clothes makes me more confident now about what I am willing to spend more money on.

2.   I generally don't do a preppy look but can sometimes take a preppy looking piece and use it my way.  Has ironic-preppy been invented yet?

3.   I like many styles but my personal preference has a hippie/boho/lagenlook vibe only not everything that fits those categories is right for me and I do not copy looks directly from celebrities, stylists or designers.  If it looks Victorian, Steampunk, slightly Goth, Mori-girl, Lagenlook, Forest Fairy, like an Elf from Lord of the Rings,  from the 70s, Medieval  or 20s-30s era, I will probably like it but that doesn't mean it will suit me.

4.   My body shape is somewhere between soft hourglass and  warped rectangle and I do not wear the same size top and bottom.  For an unfitted dress, US size 12 usually fits and if the top isn't stretchy enough sometimes I can cheat by wearing a layer underneath and then not doing up all the buttons over my chest. I am closer to 14 on top and 10 on bottom which puzzles me because I don't think I look top-heavy. 

5.   I am happier with my look if I don't put too much volume on my top half

6.   I must STOP buying things that do not fit perfectly unless they are fabulously worthy of being tailored to fit me.

7.   I should only buy natural fibres or a mostly natural fibre blend or I will not wear it.  If it is velvet I will want it but must not let that blind me.  Cotton and linen are great because I will likely want to dye them or over dye them.  I can soften denim in a vinegar wash.

8.   I don't like the way black clothes look on me (Still can't part with a black velvet waistcoat I never wear-see lesson 7) but pewter and charcoal are usually great. 

9.   I don't feel right in crayon bright colours, neons, geometric patterns, bold shapes, graphic shapes, sparkle, sequins, metallic threads or blingy things.  This fits both my personal colouring and my personality. 

10.  I prefer monochromatic or analogous (I love that word) colour combinations in soft, greyed tones; sometimes I will wear jewel tones if they still have a sort of dusky quality.  I am often attracted to warm tones but cool tones suit me better.  In all cases it is best if the colour is a greyed version, with the main feature being soft.  If I would describe it as greyed, heathered or toned, I know I am onto the right thing.  Mottled, imperfect and faded are also appealing to me and work for me.

11.  I do not dress to be noticed; I do dress to look my best and to feel good.  To me there is a difference and it's okay that I do not want to be noticed most of the time.

12.  I consider myself very feminine but clothing feels wrong if I would have loved it when I was nine.  Thus I would describe my style as feminine but not girly.  There is nothing wrong at all with girly, it is just not right for me.

13.  I really, really like 3/4 length sleeves and always have but they are admittedly a bit of a nuisance when putting on a coat.  I will buy them anyway.

14.  I am uncomfortable in structured clothing and that includes many jackets. Most of the time I will not wear most types of structured clothing.  Vests/waistcoats are a likely exception as might be a formal ball gown if I ever need one.

15.  I need fitted cardigans.  I have been buying them too big. No more sloppy cardigans!

16.  I could live in boots, preferably lace ups.

17.  I love the idea of  sewing things, upcycling/repurposing and altering clothing but I am not likely to do much of this.  That's okay.  I won't let go of the dream just yet as I have a stash of garments waiting to be dealt with.

18.  I really like weight on the bottom of my outfit and feel agitated if I don't have it.  That seems to be why I am less comfortable in shorter skirts and it usually means I prefer layered skirts but this is a bit of a problem in summer.

19.  I have no body part I am honestly interested in flaunting yet I like my body more now than at any other time in my life.  This may not be saying much but it's a start.

20.  I generally won't wear prints unless they are subtle or well blended but have a higher print tolerance with summer clothes.  I prefer prints in skirts or scarves to anything else.  I adore paisley!

21.  I love hats but they are often too hot for me.  I have a lot of hair..... or maybe just a hot head.

22.  I love the look of maximalism more than the feel of it.  I am finding my own version of it, something sort of medium with fewer accessories if I am just staying home.  Even when I am sleeping I am wearing three pairs of earrings per ear, a nose stud and two or three rings on each hand.  I don't think that qualifies as minimalist.

23.  The goal to keep in mind for shape is soft, skimming, unstructured but close to the body, flowing, draping, slight movement with a suggested but not cinched waist.

24.  I know what I want to add to my wardrobe and now I need to be patient or more resourceful.  Often I have pieces in my closet that I would like to pair style wise but I don't like the colour combination.  This gives me a clue as to what I should be holding out for to purchase next.  If I like something I am happy to have a version of it in more than one colour.

25.  I may not be able to buy all of my clothes second hand but I will always buy some of them that way.  Fewer things but the right things is a concept that makes sense for me but I have not attached a numerical value to the term 'fewer'. (Update: I estimate that 70% of my wardrobe is second hand and that's better than I thought)


It is not that I will never experiment again.  I know I will and there are still a few items in my closet that are as yet unworn and are awaiting their trial run.  But overall, I feel I really know what will not work for me and that eliminates much purchasing error.   Knowing what colours suit me best, what fabrics I prefer, the shapes that flatter and how I want to put pieces together, will hopefully make it less intimidating to sometimes spend the money on quality. 

A peek into my closet looks like this: Colours are not totally accurate but close.

The top shelf has tee shirts, jeans and leggings on the left and sweaters on the right.  I organise the sweaters more by bulk than colour just in order to keep piles from toppling over. Scarves are on the far right wrapped around the dowel.


I won't be able to end this post without an extra focus on colour, with which I am obsessed.  I love most colours so it was particularly difficult for me to figure out which I looked best in because I couldn't see past just liking the colour itself.  It was taking photos for my blog that helped me to really see the colour on myself and how it worked, or didn't, with my own personal colouring.  Even knowing that I am best in soft colours toned with grey or shaded with a bit of black, I am still inclined to make the mistake of falling for and purchasing colours that are too warm to really flatter me. Yes, I could wear them away from my face, but then I have to have something to wear on top that looks good with them so I am trying to keep them out of my wardrobe to make things simpler.

I played around with some dabs of watercolour paint, trying to make  sample of the colours that work for me and the ones I am attracted to but need to avoid. It's not perfect but it does give a bit of a visual idea.

I am attracted to these but they are both too warm and too bright to suit me.  I can see these colours on Natalia.  I always love the colour combinations she creates but I do not love them on me so instead I will enjoy these colours vicariously.  I like to use them in my art too.  Softening these colours with a bit of grey makes them more wearable for me, but warmer tones are still not my best.  With the in-store lighting not always helping, I am still inclined to err in this direction, especially with greens and browns.  I love a mossy green.  When I am falling for something in green or brown I need to stop and think about whether or not it is a bit too warm to work for me.


The colours that fill my closet now and which I want to focus on look more like these.
If you are a follower of personal colour analysis, my colours are from the deep soft summer palette.


They are generally toned with a bit of grey, and I can wear a deeper version and a lighter version of them but tend to look best in the mid-tone range using two or three colours or combining mid and deep or mid and light of the same colour.  I can wear a very cool lemon yellow but am not particularly fond of wearing it.

Finding greyed or muted versions of colours is challenging so not everything I have is as muted as I might like it to be.  The right off white is quite a challenge too but when I do get it right I love it. It can't be too cream coloured or it looks like warm yellow on me but also not a stark optic white.  Ivory, off white, winter white and whites that are almost blush coloured work.  I find it useful to keep a small piece of white computer paper in my purse to use for checking a white's undertone when shopping.

Everyone has colours they objectively look better in but whether or not you care about yours is a personal choice.  For me, it matters or I feel uncomfortable, just as wearing the wrong style or the wrong size feels uncomfortable.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Little Bits of Weekend


 Subtitle:  A Rambling Post

 My outing to see Ivan Coyote exhausted me but was well worth it.  I have spent the past three days recovering, mostly in bed with a bit of staggering around to get food and tea or coffee.  I have some pretty delicious things in the freezer so I've had near gourmet meals which is unusual for these mini crashes.  Usually it's scrambled eggs if I even have that much energy.  Let's pretend I actually arranged this delicious food nicely and photographed it in beautiful lighting and posted it here. Let's pretend I am one of those lifestyle bloggers who models a perfectly gorgeous life worthy of magazine pages.  Let's pretend my armpits aren't throbbing.  Yeah, I know, it's one of the weirder symptoms I get. Let's move on from that and admire Matty the supermodel.








  I have just taken this photo of my amaryllis blooming now despite my having planted it in late November.  I got up off the sofa, picked up my camera and took a few shots.  Then I sat down again feeling like I had just spent a day of physical labour.






                                       I love this deep, dark red.
 

The up side to this is that it forces me to slow down and appreciate little things.  I am naturally a fast paced person who is busy and just goes and goes and does and does and makes and makes. (You will find this type of multi-tasking, creative, busy person populating the staff of any given elementary school.)  After two minutes of sitting down I will spot something that needs doing and hop up to do it.  Or at least that is what I do when I am in remission.  I am not doing that now.  So I try to be grateful, or if not grateful at least to see the positive aspect of a disease that can slow me down drastically despite my intentions.  My body sends me regular cease and desist orders and I have to obey.  It's a prison sentence if I don't.

Let's get back to that bit where we were pretending I am a lifestyle blogger with a perfect life.  The great thing about perfection is that many times it is not an absolute standard.  Ask three people what the perfect meal is and get three different answers.  So in order to have a perfect life there is not actually much pretending involved.  All you have to do is take the life you have and declare it perfect.

Spring is coming and the birds are bonkers.  I am celebrating that with two of my very favourite early spring blooms, flowering quince and viburnum with bug eaten foliage.  These are from Mum's garden though I once had them in my own.  The paler pink quince blossoms are from a bush I dug up and divided, rescued from a neighbour's vacant lot with permission.  I gave one to Mum and kept one for myself. 




As winter works its way to a close, a transitional wardrobe is required.  For those days when you are feeling more than your age and looking it too, just toss on a cosy cat-scarf to really make your look polished and pulled together. 



Here I will add a visual reminder that I do know how to smile.  In no other way that I know of am I like Victoria Beckham, but with all my non-smiling selfies I will sure give the impression that I am aspiring to be just like her.  Honestly, I do smile often.  Fatigue and being self conscious in front of a camera are the main reason for all the grim looks.  By the time I set the timer and get into the picture spot I completely forget that I need to smile.  This smiling outfit was a trial run and I did not wear it all day.  The skirt is new to me and seems like a keeper for those rare fancy occasions I may encounter.  It is a very dark navy in the print, as is the tee shirt I am wearing, though it looks black in the photo.  This photo was taken prior to going out on Thursday night.  I am not exhausted.  I have just enough energy to go out and get myself exhausted.

                           Some day I am going to paint those floors!

My life is one great big never-ending long weekend.  I like to make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book and I am happy that in the past month I have been managing to read fiction.  I read and loved Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett though encountered puzzling grammatical errors.

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Recently I finished reading this one:

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I thoroughly enjoyed it and do not feel the need to watch the CBC mini series version.

I have just begun this one and so far enjoy both the plot and Elizabeth Gilbert's style.  

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 The last two books here are historical fiction, which I sometimes enjoy and sometimes really do not.  Like any novel it depends much on whether the plot and writing style appeal to me but I have also found that I prefer historical fiction with mainly fictional characters and the characters who really did once exist only minor figures in the plot.  I attempted  The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B and could not finish it.  My dislike of the book seems to have involved both a lack of engagement in the writing style and the characters as well as a vague discomfort with a historical figure as the main character. 




A pleasant weekend pastime is to compose a brief poem:


Taking Out The Garbage

I walk the waterlogged-worm- strewn driveway.
On the long, slow return from the bins
bare feet in rubber boots make fart-like noises.


I didn't say it would be a good poem.

It is late Sunday afternoon now, though I slept until 12:30 so I am a bit disoriented when it comes to time and it feels like it should be around 10am.  I am looking forward to my daily game of online Scrabble with my dearest friend and it's time to go and make myself a cup of tea.  Matty is lying beside me purring happily.  She has been with me for three weeks now and has settled in so well.  We are a good match. I am a woman who needs a cat companion in her life and Matty,  a cat in her senior years who needed relief from the stress of an unfortunate circumstance.  When I go into the kitchen to make tea she will follow.  She will talk to me the whole time, telling me of her dire need for meat and how it has been positively hours since she had any.  I will pick her up and she will snuggle against my neck.  I will carry her around like that as I make the tea.  We are happy.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

My Working Memory has Retired Without a Pension

What was I saying?  Oh yes, this is a post about memory, maxi skirts, spoken word performance and resting bitch face. 

One of the symptoms of ME is that there are cognitive troubles, and they involve memory.   Short term memory loss is often something the elderly experience and it an creep up on us, so those of us over forty experience it at times.  It's that moment of going blank on what you were about to do next that is usually well assisted by retracing your steps.  Why did I just walk into this room?  I can't remember but if I go back to where I just came from I probably will remember.  With ME, my short term memory troubles flare up at times and recede.  I am not constantly afflicted so much as frequently and in varying degrees.  It makes writing difficult because as quickly as sentences form in my head I lose them. It makes reading difficult because I cannot take in and retain what I have just read.  It sometimes makes speaking difficult for the same reason.  It makes seemingly simply tasks such as following procedures and steps, filling out forms, nearly impossible at times.  It makes reading something new and responding to it an arduous task. 

Given that I so frequently cannot really remember what I just read or what I was going to say, watching the ideas move steadily away from me like a news crawler and I am unable to hold onto them, I am sometimes amazed that I made it through school.  Having such a cognitive dysfunction requires making an extra effort but in making that extra effort I wore myself out frequently.   Even when I was not actually in a relapse, when I was physically active and seemingly healthy, I was constantly fighting an inexplicable and persistent fatigue and what felt like brain fog.  I had no diagnosis at the time, and perhaps there is something that came from not knowing: I did not give up.  I persisted.  The downside of not knowing was frequently exhausting myself and feeling stupid.  However the rest of the world may define me, I defined myself by my intelligence, whatever degree I had of it, and could not imagine a life in which I did not pursue my academic interests, in which I did not read, think about and discuss what I had read.  Sometimes I would like to pat myself on the back for having achieved what I did with this handicap working against me though it is often tempting to think, could I be smarter if I did not have this disease?  Is the 'real' me smarter?

Certain forms of writer's block are familiar to me.  I have seen students sit in front of a blank piece of paper, knowing that they are tasked with writing something but finding themselves with no ideas forming.   I have read of novelists struggling and agonising over each word or phrase or sentence, re-writing just the smallest parts over and over until they achieve that aesthetic perfection they are seeking.  What I experience myself, no matter what I may be writing, whether it is a grocery list, a blog comment, my own fiction or an essay, is knowing what I want to say, having pleasing sentences forming in my head but then in the time it takes me to pick up a pen or type three words I lose it all.  I see them going, my words on the bus pulling away from the curb as I run from a block away, trying to catch up and already knowing the futility of my efforts, watching my vanishing words wave at me from the back window of the bus.

It is much easier for me to write about my own opinions and experiences, the thoughts I have formed and held and stored in my long term memory so this is what I do.  It is easier for me to type than to use my handwriting, although a pen, notebook and my own cursive appeals to me more.  With writing I have to remember how to form the letters and the words and that remembering interferes with finding the ideas I want to write about and forming the sentences to express them.  With typing I have only to let my fingers automatically hit the right keys so long as I can remember how to spell the words.  The spelling of the words is in my long term memory as is how to hit the right keys with the right fingers.  The ideas are in my long term memory also most of the time so all I have to do is apply my working memory to arranging them into sentences.  I am fascinated by neuroscience, psychology and the brain in general so I study my own.  It is the most ethical way to proceed.  I read much on the subject as well but as I have just explained, I have enormous difficulty taking it in and retaining it.  When people suggest that learning something only takes motivation I get as frustrated as I do when they suggest graded exercise is the cure for ME.  Motivation and interest abound in me for a variety of topics which I struggle to learn about.  Interest is definitely what keeps me going, but my acquired knowledge won't earn me any degrees, despite my having a library that makes it look like I should have several of them.


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Fortunately I don't require a highly functioning working memory in order to get dressed. I am off to see a spoken word performance by Ivan Coyote and Sheila is picking me up.  Warm, comfortable and blue seems like a good idea today.  Leggings under a jersey maxi-skirt do the job.  I look pissed off, but am just tired.  My resting bitch face is so in need of rest the door frame is holding it up.


                                  Ivan Coyote:  Dear Younger Self


The term working memory was coined by Baddely and Hitch in 1974 and is now used as a synonym for short term memory.  What differences there are between the two depends on what source you read but my reading has lead me to conclude that the term working memory is a replacement for the term short term memory, along with a better understanding of the actual process.  Short term memory is an expression still popularly used by many lay people so the existence of two terms for essentially the same thing can be a bit confusing.  The link above goes to a great site for anyone interested in this subject and who thinks psychology textbooks fascinating reading.  Surely I am not the only one.