Sunday, 5 July 2015

Just Another Hazy Sunday

Wildfires in my little corner of the world have brought us that peculiar pink-brown haze in the sky.  The temperature is down about ten degrees today which to my thinking makes if finally comfortable, but it is still expected to climb.  I woke up to these cooler temperatures and this brown haze feeling a bit spooked by it.  I woke to a world that was the wrong colour.   Hot dry summers aren't unknown here, and I remember many from my childhood, but where climate change is really noticeable is in winter, when we are no longer getting both the rainfall or the snowfall we used to get.  No snow on the mountains means Comox Lake isn't getting annually topped up with melt-water and Comox Lake is our local water source.  Needless to say we have outdoor burning bans and water restrictions.  I tend to only wash my car once a year anyhow.

I have been so exhausted lately I'm getting a bit nervous about the upcoming Blogger meet-up in Vancouver.  I'm excited but worried about my limitations, so I tell myself that just showing up, getting away for a few days, meeting some new people and meeting online friends face to face is what it's all about.  If I can't go tromping all over with the gang I am going to feel left out, but that's just the reality of my life.  I can't do some things and there are so many things I want to do.   It's funny how perspective changes when inactivity is forced on you.  I would not normally like housework, not think washing the dishes or vacuuming was enjoyable by any means, but when I am struggling to find the energy to hold my body in an upright sitting position, a sink full of dirty dishes begins to taunt me, pointing out what I cannot do, and suddenly washing dishes seems very desirable.

I like a clean and tidy home but not only do I want to be able to maintain one, I want to do enjoyable things on top of that.  Ha ha ha ha ha -I hear my wrecked auto-immune system laughing at me.  Dream on!  I had hoped to get out with my camera today, taking photos of local scenes for potential painting projects but I am a purple blob on the sofa today.  I tell myself that the hazy conditions outside would ruin my photos anyhow.  I tell myself I should just curl up with Margaret Atwood. 

Despite liking the dishes to be clean, I let them pile up in the sink and I painted instead.  In a perfect world I could do both, but when has the world ever been perfect?  Perfection is boring and I do have priorities.  Perfection is something I don't aim for in my painting either.  I like it a little bit naive, a little bit wobbly.
So here is my wobbly project of the moment.  It's a little section of downtown Courtenay, the neighbouring town, painted in acrylic on fibre board.  I will likely spend another month touching it up randomly now.  As with my writing, I alternately like this painting and loathe it. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Fun Surprises and a Heat Wave

 I received a parcel in the mail this week, an exciting one!  It wasn't a surprise but it took a month to get here so there was definitely built up anticipation involved.  The creative, talented and ever so sweet Jazzy Jack of Natural Medley made me a bracelet and necklace and she sure had my colours figured out.  She also knows that I am exactly the sort of person who would mix skulls with soft, pretty beads.  We are having a heat wave, probably something an Aussie would laugh at but I am melting.  I don't take heat too well and you can even see me melting in the photo.  Limp hair, limp dress, just a bit too sweaty.  Yes, I am going to put this picture on the internet.  However, I had a heck of a time getting a tolerable photo of myself modelling my new bling.

                                          Limp in the Doorway

                                                Ladylike Skulls

   I gave up on sweaty photos and went to bed.  I hung my pretty necklace  where I could see it.

 I tried again the next day and after many hideous results that were blurry and either did not flatter me or the necklace or both I finally achieved these.  And they will just have to do.  Look how Jack just nailed my colours.  They literally match me!  And while we are at it, somebody please tell me what colour my eyes are because I have never known what to call them.  My driver's license says hazel, which clearly they are not.

                      Damn you neck, you are giving away my true age. 

A confession:  Somewhere, hiding slightly under the pretty beads and their creative design, is a red paint splotch because I would not be me if I did not have ink and paint on me in one or two spots in addition to several bruises.

Writing and painting are increasingly crowding out Blog World.  This is a happy thing for me, this is doing what I am truly passionate about doing. I do not expect to leave though and am still coming round to visit my favourite blogs and still posting here sometimes too.    When I am not melted into a puddle that is.  Peri-menopause and a heat wave.  Gah!

Check out Jack's blog if you don't know it because it is an awesome blog and you will not regret it.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Just Briefly

Thank you to those of you who read my latest story and for the encouraging comments.  It's a bit scary to post something still so rough ( I know there are typos I did not catch )  and I only did one re-write, attempting to tighten and smooth out the story.  Sounds like I need to apply some expensive miracle cream to it.

Poem for the Week

This Morning

A million genius ideas
Profound connections-okay perhaps seven
Wash over me slick like soap
And down the drain
Riding on bubbles.
This one observation left,
My last amusing thought is
Nearly scraped away
By the shaving of my legs.

Sensible Simplicity

Minimalism is a trend currently, and by that I don’t mean I am dismissing it or saying it won't last.  In that case it would be a fad.  Minimalism is a trend that purports to improve your life, lighten your burden literally, free you up to be happy.  I would imagine there are some people out there with an ever expanding library of books on how to do minimalism right. I imagine this books might be shelved next to books on the previous trend, organisation.  Once we were told how to organise and store things, and sold assorted storage containers.  Millions of people parked their cars in the driveway because their garages were filled with carefully stored possessions in lidded plastic totes.  I know someone who can barely move around her home because of her possessions, and is arguably afflicted with a hoarding problem, but it's all organised carefully into containers and labelled.

Some, as I do, feel more comfortable surrounded by things which have meaning to us.  We might call ourselves maximalists.  The girls who come twice a month to clean call me The Lady With The Eclectic Home. They walk around exclaiming over this cool thing or that cool thing as though it were a museum of sorts. "Where did you get this?"  They ask.  I suppose my home is  a personal shrine of me-ness.  My home is an expression of who I am and nobody walks in the door and says, oh a minimalist lives here.

Five years ago I moved out of the home I had lived in for eighteen years, leaving a marriage of 23 years.  Among the many differences that had grown between my husband and myself was how much we accumulated, what types of things we accumulated and where we put it.  I believe that if a relationship is otherwise healthy and happy, there would be a greater tolerance for such differences, but for me this difference was becoming unbearable.  My husband could tolerate much more disarray than I could. So many of our things did not have a home, and if they did they often weren't kept there.  Storing things neatly and properly was not a priority for him so time and money could not be invested in making a closet or some shelving.  Things did not get thrown out if they were potentially useful or had sentimental value.  We had an overflowing crawl space and a home nearly impossible to keep tidy.  A brand new double garage was built in the last three years of our marriage and it was promptly filled up with stuff.  One side of it was filled with old wood siding that might be useful some day.  I  felt buried under material things just as I felt buried in the marriage.  Our ways were different, and yet I am not a minimalist.  I am also very fond of cupboards.

Moving out was a good way to purge, and I made careful decisions about what I took with me, deliberately not taking the 50% of our possessions I was entitled to, in part because I was moving to a home less than half the size.  Although I have a few regrets about that, I try not to be emotionally attached to material things.  As I set up my new home, I found that I needed a certain volume of material items around me to feel comfortable.  I like candles, plants and books and attractive textiles, decorative pieces or items that are both useful and decorative, and am not a fan of much bare wall space.  I am a seeker of cosiness more than space.   I only knew how to set up a home for a family, not for a single person.  I could not let go of the idea that I needed dinner service for ten, enough wine glasses in case I have a party.  I am equipped to serve Christmas dinner on a regular basis and to cook and bake for a family of four or more daily.  Perhaps I imagined a step family in my future, or I imagine grandchildren.  Either way it is a bit ridiculous but I have to admit I really like my dishes and like looking at them.  This is not a sin and it does not hold me back from living the life I want to live.  I do have more possessions than I need, but they are not in my way, spiritually, emotionally or physically.

Minimalism is sold to us as the mentally healthy way to live.  It is sold to us as the  ideal life, free and unencumbered. It is a spiral movement in many ways but more than one person has found a way to comodify it.  I believe minimalism, or simplicity should really be a very personal thing, very tailored to the individual and perhaps it needs a new name or needs to be separated from a sister movement that is more about living with what you need.  Need is something to be personally defined, but it is also relative to culture and wealth.  Unless you live below the poverty line or are homeless, you probably have more than you need to survive and there is no need to be shamed for that.  What I am interested in personally, is reducing mindless  consumption and accumulation.  What I wish to work on paring down is mostly invisible to anyone who comes into my home.  It is not my chosen lifestyle nor within my means to be a wanderer.  Given this, I am quite content with a home that anchors me.

Re-evaluating sometimes, reducing, unneeded and unwanted possessions and focusing on less consumption can all be goals without having to embrace minimalism, or they can be part of of how you define your own personal minimalism.  Less is a relative term.


Voluntary Simplicity...
It should be noted that voluntary simplicity does not, however, mean living in poverty, becoming an ascetic monk, or indiscriminately renouncing all the advantages of science and technology. It does not involve regressing to a primitive state or becoming a self-righteous puritan. And it is not some escapist fad reserved for saints, hippies, or eccentric outsiders. Rather, advocates of simplicity suggest that by examining afresh our relationships with money, material possessions, the planet, ourselves and each other, ‘the simple life’ of voluntary simplicity is about discovering the freedom and contentment that comes with knowing how much consumption is truly ‘enough.’[11] Arguably, this is a theme that has something to say to everyone, especially those in consumer cultures today who are every day bombarded with thousands of cultural and institutional messages insisting that ‘more is always better.’ Voluntary simplicity is a philosophy of living that advocates a counter-cultural position based on notions of sufficiency and simplicity.[12]

 -quote found on the website The Simplicity Collective

Suggested Reading for a gentle and sensible approach:

Friday, 26 June 2015

A Story and Some Thoughts

                            A bouquet of roses from Mum's garden.

 I have a plethora of thoughts and so I have an abundance of writing because for me that's just how it works.  I'm thinking of clearing out my drafts file for this blog as there are many (154 when I last checked) unposted pieces just sitting there, forgotten.  Sometimes I am stimulated by an article I've read and other times it's just the life and culture going on around me that gets me going on a certain topic,  but what usually happens is that I find something on the same topic which I think is better written and then I sigh mentally and shove my own piece into a corner.  Everything has been said before, by someone who said it better.  I think this is why I like to write fiction.  It seems to me there is room for variation on the same theme.  I can explore cultural conditions, human nature, events and experiences in my own unique way and not feel as though I am just  parroting someone else.


This is one of my latest short stories, written in response to a prompt from Natalia's Writer's Link Up:  When Suddenly I Saw

I didn't use the prompt in a beginning sentence this time, but I believe I did imbed it somewhere near the end of the story in an attempt to play by the rules.  So here it is, a little rough and raw and a little longer than the last one.

I'm posting it a bit of ahead of schedule and will link up when I see that Natalia is ready.


And There Will Be Lesbians

“Are you going to the cafe again?” She asked from inside the  broom cupboard.  I gulped my tea which was getting cold, scooped up the last mouthful of scrambled egg and, still chewing, carried the dirty dishes to the sink.

“Yes, I’d like to” I answered, quickly attacking my dirty dishes with a soapy scrubber.  Gran emerged from the cupboard with a look of annoyance and empty hands.  She closed the door and sat down at the kitchen table, adding a few things to the shopping list she had begun earlier.  A day off work meant doing the shopping and cleaning and Friday had been the day for shopping as long as I could remember.  Saturday morning was for cleaning and Sunday was for advanced cooking and food preparation to see us through the busy week to come, washing, chopping, storing or cooking various things to make the weeknights easier.  Gran had systems and routines.  She preferred to keep busy, she said, and part of keeping busy meant four days a week as receptionist and legal assistant to a young lawyer who had taken over from the old lawyer Gran used to work for.   Glancing at the clock on the stove, I realised I’d better hurry. 

“I’ll be home for dinner and I’ve taken that macaroni and cheese out of the freezer,”   I called out from the hall, shoving my feet into the same pair of  boots I wore every day. “I really want you to come with me.  Will you think about  it?”

Ever since Gran had shown me the poems she’d written years ago, when she was young, I had been trying to convince her to write more and  I wanted her to come with me to the cafe and read some of her poems on We Love Words night, but it was going to take a lot of coaxing.  I was going to read some of mine for the first time that night;  I was nervous as hell and there was still a long day of classes to get through.  

“Since when have you ever wanted an audience?  Your first words were ‘don’t look at me’,” Gran said laughing, when I told her my plan to read some poems.  “I know you are trying to trick me into coming tonight and liking it because you think I will share my own poems next time.”

“I could never trick you,” I said, kissing her cheek and heading out the door.  I let her have the last words.

“That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t try.” She called after me.

I saw Gran’s poems on one of those endlessly rainy days that make up at least half the year.  Late winter, the promise of spring still distant but we had decided to embark on a closet cleaning  process, a sort of pre-spring-cleaning tidy.  I was helping Gran sort through her clothing, watching her trying things on and decreeing whether they went into the keep or the donate pile.  She hadn’t gotten rid of anything in twenty years and there were items older than I was.  “You could open up a vintage shop”, I joked but she didn’t laugh.  Not that this didn’t have some humour in it but all of her attention was on something she’d just found.  She pulled an old shoebox down from the far corner of the top shelf and placed it on the bed.

“I haven’t seen these in ages,” she said, lifting the lid.  Inside were several yellowing pages, some typed and some handwritten.  I recognized her handwriting which meant that these probably weren’t a bunch of letters from a past lover as I had immediately hoped they were, though my hopes weren’t completely dashed.  They were love poems. 

“Did you write them for Maurice?” I asked, curiously peering into the box. 

“, no these were from long before I was married to Maurice.  I was young.”  She took one out and glanced over it, then apparently deciding it was not going to reveal any secrets, she handed it to me.  I skimmed the words initially but then I re-read them.  This was good.  This was simple and elegant poetry, not the overblown and sentimental stuff you might expect from a very young woman, the kind of poetry I admit I was inclined to sneer at when my peers wrote it, not being a fan of love poetry.  Somehow this was more done with less.  There was nothing sexual, and if there had been she probably wouldn’t have handed it to me so readily.  I held my hand out for another one.  What she handed to me this time spoke of loss and loneliness, immediately conveying the emptiness she felt.  Who had this person been and where was he now?  Who was my Gran’s great love and why had she not told me she used to write such wonderful poetry?  She didn’t show me any more, but tucked the two I had seen back into the shoebox.  The elastic band that had been around it had broken as soon as she removed it and  lay on the bed like a thin red worm.   I don’t know where she put the box after that and she hadn’t spoken of the poems or the unknown inspiration for them since that day.  

Gran didn’t readily tell me stories about her life before I came along.  With the self-centredness of childhood I had not thought to ask very many questions but now, in my first year of college and pretty much an adult, I felt myself wanting to know things, asking cautiously, not sure where to find the line between appropriate interest and nosiness.  Nosiness was something Gran didn’t much appreciate in others and anyone who displayed it was held low in her esteem.   She probably wouldn’t think me nosy, it would be natural for me to have questions and of course she answered my questions about my mother.  Gran had Mum at eighteen, Mum had me at sixteen, and it had been Gran’s intention to make sure I did not continue this pattern.  I hadn’t been interested in boys until fairly recently, or rather, it seemed they had not been interested in me so I busied myself with other things.  I remember when Maurice was still alive, we sat in the shady back garden shelling peas before supper and talking about boys.  I guess I was twelve, something like that.  He told me that there was a secret to making boys interested in you.

“The thing to do with boys,” he said slowly, running his thumb along the seam of the pea pod, “is don’t flirt, be indifferent towards them, have other interests, just be yourself and do the things you want to do.”  That way you don’t waste any time mooning over the wrong ones and the right ones will find you very interesting.  The less you are interested in them the more they will be interested in you.”  Gran had come out to get a bowl of shelled peas from us and she snorted in disgust at this bit of advice.

“The best advice about boys, Crysta-Lynne, is that you should just wait until they are men before you pay any attention to them if at all.”

All these bits of advice just confused me and I wished they wouldn’t worry so much as though I was going to suddenly run off with a boy in the next couple of years.  Maurice’s words did stick though, filed somewhere in the back of my brain under the heading: use this someday.  There was a boy, or could I call him a man?- in my English class whom I could not stop staring at.  I sat in the back so he couldn’t see me staring.  I imagined that one of these days he was going to speak to me, since I was definitely busy not flirting with him. Maurice, if he’d still been alive, would have been proud of me.  I missed Maurice and I had to suppose Gran did too though we rarely talked of it. 

“He was a good man,” Gran said when she spoke of him.  Maurice came into our lives when I was around six years old and left, unwillingly, ten years later.  He and Gran married at home; I remember that day and my memories are supported by the photo that sits on one of the side tables in the living room.  In it, I am small and grinning, wearing a blue dress with a ribbon sash around the middle.  Gran wears a cream coloured suit, Maurice a grey one.  Maurice has his hand on my shoulder and his other arm around Gran’s slender waist.  Her waist is still slender now but her hair is  grey.  She doesn’t believe in dyeing it.  Gran worked for the lawyer even then, and she wore skirt suits at the office but at home she wore denim overalls.  At the office she wore her hair in a chignon but at home she often just tucked it behind her hears and let it hang loose.  Sometimes Gran is two different women; she keeps a strong separation between her public and private lives.  People think she is my mother because she is the right age for that but she never wanted to pass herself off as my mother.  She said that would not be accepting reality and Gran believes the best thing we can do in life is face reality.  When Maurice died, she faced the reality.  “It’s a good thing he didn’t suffer long,” she said, of Maurice.  “He’s gone and we just have to get on without him now.”

As the macaroni and cheese warmed in the oven, Gran and I made a spinach salad.  She asked me about my day and I asked about hers, as we always did, and she mentioned that she’d had an e-mail from Shirley who had come for a visit this past summer.  I’d only met Shirley once before, when I was very small and had no actual memory of that time.  Gran didn’t talk about her much because Gran didn’t talk about anybody much, which was both a frustrating and admirable quality.  Shirley was a mystery who fascinated me because I knew that something had happened early in her life that troubled Gran.

Before the summer visit, what I knew was that Shirley was Gran’s cousin, was several years older than Gran and she was beautiful.  “So naturally beautiful,” Gran said, that  everyone’s eyes followed Shirley, everyone’s hearts followed Shirley.” 

This was a bit startling.  Not that Shirely was so beautiful but the way Gran bothered to mention it.  She wasn’t generally given to poetic descriptions.  I’d seen pictures of Shirely, a few of them when she was young, teens or early twenties maybe.  She was certainly pretty, with long, loose hair and bell bottomed jeans.  She didn’t wear makeup or dresses.  She wore a black velvet ribbon around her throat.  Shirley, Gran said, had married the son of a family friend and moved away.  When Gran got a little older she began a correspondence with Shirley and I like to imagine they were close, poured their hearts out to each other, but I don’t know.  Gran has not told me, of course, what they wrote about.

I remember that night, making supper before the poetry reading at the cafe, like it was somehow connected to Shirley’s visit, though they happened about two months apart.  Shirley arrived in a blue rental car, a Toyota, and she dragged a canvas duffle bag out of the trunk.  Gran and I scurried out of the house to welcome her, both of us nervous, I think.  Gran and Shirley hugged each other and I awkwardly held out my hand.  “Hi, I’m Crysta-Lynne.”  I mentally cringed every time I said my name, the result of a very young mother’s sense of whimsy, but I didn’t care for any of the short alternatives either.  She held out a tanned and neatly groomed hand, shortish nails, two or three thin gold rings, and clasped my hand, not in a traditional handshake but just all of her fingers clasping all of my fingers.

“Laura you look just the same as you always have!” Shirley declared, looking Gran up and down, taking in the denim overalls, brown sandals and long, greying braid.  I can hardly believe all this time has passed since I last saw you and I also can’t believe I let it pass.”

“I am just as much to blame as you.”  If she had been nervous at first, Gran didn’t seem to be now.  She grabbed the duffle bag and linked her arm through Shirley’s.  “Do you want tea, coffee, or something cold to drink? Crysta will show you your room while I get us something.”

Our house had three bedrooms though we’d had to clean up the third one a bit before Shirley’s arrival.  It had become the defacto storage room but according to Gran expecting company was always a good way to force a bit of tidying and sorting.   With that done, the room was plain but cheerful, painted a soft butter yellow and with deep blue curtains and bedding.  Earlier in the day Gran had gathered a bouquet of cornflowers from the garden and I had made sure there were clothes hangers in the closet.  We’d never had a guest come to stay.  How long Shirley was staying was not yet known, but the dufflebag seemed heavy.  She asked me to help her put her clothes away, and pulled out some sundresses and some baggy drawstring pants with matching flowing tops.  She placed two small and slightly battered looking gift bags on the bed, what looked like a pair of pyjamas, a washbag, a cardigan and a novel.  I felt as though I should be making conversation but I wasn’t sure what to say.   I was mainly trying not to stare at her.  Gran had been right, she was beautiful in person, something about the way she moved and smiled had more to do with her beauty than her symmetrical features, blue eyes and straight teeth and there was something musical about her voice.

“How has your Gran been?”  She asked me as I hung her clothes on the hangers.  I’ve been so busy sorting out my own life, I just can’t believe how much time has gone by.  I’m so ashamed of neglecting her.  I said that Gran was fine, which as far as I knew was the truth. She smiled at me and gestured towards the doorway with her head.  “Shall we go and find her now?”

Gran had made coffee, which was what Shirley wanted, and a pitcher of lemonade was also on a tray with glasses.  I was the lemonade drinker but normally it was not presented to me so formally.  I helped carry a tray and we sat outside in the shade under the maple tree.  I suppose this all made a strong impression on me because it was so new and unusual and I was excited by Shirley’s visit.  It all seems so ordinary now, of course, but I was younger and less experienced then and had so little connection to any family.  Eventually I learned things, though it happened over the three weeks Shirley stayed.  In my mind what I learned and that first day with Shirley, the afternoon in the shade of the tree, those are all linked together as one event.

Shirley was a lesbian, she told us.  Always had been.  I looked at Gran to see her reaction and did not see shock as I’d expected.  She nodded solemnly.  “Iit can’t be easy for you.”

“Well, no, it has pretty much been a bit of a disaster and perhaps it’s obvious but I’ve left Raymond and I’ve lost some friends and this is really the beginning of a whole new life.  I didn’t want to make this big change without putting you in the picture.  I know you saw what happened with Jenny years ago, but I didn’t really know if you understood what had happened.  Jenny has come back into my life.  Actually to be honest she was never gone but..”

“Shirley you don’t have to tell me.  You don’t have to explain anything.”

“I know I don’t, Laura, it’s not that.  It’s that I love Jenny, we are in love and always have been and so many people are going to enjoy this scandal but I just need you to know that the real tragedy is we were separated, by convention and meddling parents and cultural circumstances and it should never have happened.  They should not have read my private letters in the first place.”

Gran nodded slowly, a funny look on her face as Shirley went on.

“And you’ve known all these years that I was living a lie and I thought I had to hide everything.  I’ve been writing to you for years about my sham of a life and you knew. I thought I was alone with my horrible secret and then as time went by and these things became more accepted I felt guilt about my shame.  I was supposed to be out and proud, not hiding and ashamed.  I never had children; Raymond couldn’t and he wanted to adopt but I didn’t.  I said I couldn’t raise a child that was not mine but that was a lie too, like everything else.  I didn’t want to bring a child into my mess.”

Through most of my childhood I mainly remember Gran trying to make me stronger, not wanting me to get so deeply hurt over things, worried that I didn’t have thick enough skin, like that time I came home from school crying because the girl who had been my best friend since kindergarten had just decided to be best friends with someone else. 

“Crysta-Lynne,” Gran said to me. “If something like this devastates you how are you going to survive in life?  How are you going to cope with all of the difficult things life is going to throw at you.”  When telling my troubles to Gran lead to this sort of comment too many times I started keeping a diary and I guess that means I have Gran to thank for my wanting to be a writer.  I began to write in my diary constantly.  I took it everywhere, writing my thoughts, feelings, observations.  Much of it is embarrassingly childish but it began a passion to express myself with written words.  Gran didn’t particularly seem to approve of this approach either. “Be careful about what you write,” she said to me one day.  “Never write anything down that you wouldn’t want someone else to see.”

I thought this overly dramatic and silly.  Who was going to find my diary or even care?

Shirley and Gran had so much to talk about, so much to catch up on and explain and share and talk over that I felt a bit like an intruder so I left them alone together most of the time though Shirley didn’t give me the impression she needed to keep her conversation private from me. 
A few days after she arrived, she even suggested that I might want to come stay with her and Jenny some time.  “If you would be comfortable with that,” she added.  I didn’t know if she meant comfortable despite their being lesbians or comfortable despite my barely knowing them.

About a month after Shirley had come and gone, I sat with Gran on her bed, looking again at her poems, romantic, passionate, full of longing, I was unable to connect these poems, these ideas and this language to the grandmother I had known all my life.  “Who are they about, Gran?” I blurted out the question before I had time to mentally talk myself out of asking it.  She folded up the paper she held in her hand and tucked it back into the box. 

“I was very young.  Too young to have a boyfriend,”  she began and I thought I was hearing the beginning of another family scandal.  “They are about Shirley.  Shirley doesn’t know, hasn’t ever seen them, but I worshipped her, so I watched everything she did.  When I overheard our mothers talking about what they had read, what had lead them to understand the nature of the relationship between Shirely and her friend Jenny, I thought they had read my poems.  I thought that somehow I had betrayed my beloved Shirley by writing about her secret.

Gran had tears in her eyes and I suddenly saw so much that I had never seen before, her guilt, her worry, her vulnerability.  I felt tremendous love for her and a desire to protect her.  I felt old and wise.  “Gran,”  I said, touching her arm, “it was not your fault and your writing did not cause Shirley’s troubles.  It’s okay for you to write again.  It’s okay for you to share those poems.  Gran you could read them at the next cafe poetry reading night.  You should come with me.”

“I’ll think about it,” she replied.  “I have to admit I have started to write again after all these years.” 

“You could come to the cafe for We Love Words and just observe and then decide, maybe you could read some that night or wait for another time.  You don’t have to make up your mind until the last minute.  The women are so nice, so many different, really cool people.  You will like them, Gran.  And there will be lesbians.”

Gran gave me a stern, sideways look.  And then she laughed.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mein Lieblings

 There were some more so-so photos on my camera which I have decided to share, because the world does not have enough mediocre photos of an ordinary woman in non-fashionable clothing.  The top layer of this outfit is a nightgown. Actually the layer under that might be one too.  The floral layer has completely non-funtioning boob coverage so I only use it as a top layer.  I've cinched it up with one of my fabric scrap flowers.

I refuse to be bullied into not wearing capri pants  And I am determined to embrace my right to bare arms. Also my right to look pregnant.  I figure that at this point looking pregnant would make me look younger.  ;-)

I love this little green cardi so much. Here it is with my maxi-dress improvisation a few days ago.

 Well I managed a smile in two out of three photos.  I smile all the time, but not so much when I am taking pictures of myself.  I need people to smile at.

 I have been nominated twice this week for the Liebster award from two very lovely, stylish, colourful ladies I am honoured to have met through blogging. 
These questions come from Elsie of The Cooking Wardrobe

1. Are you a morning person?
2. What's your best form of exercise?
3. What's your favorite food?
4. Are you a dog or cat person?
5. What is an item you cannot live without?
6. What is the best advise you've been given?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. Do you plan to fight aging or age gracefully?
9. Why did you start blogging?
10. Introvert or Extrovert?
11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

And these questions come from Natalia of In The Writer's Closet

1. Favorite color of the rainbow.
2. Favorite time of day.
3. Three favorite things to do when you don't have to do anything.
4. Three favorite TV shows.
5. What was your biggest childhood dream?
6. What's more inspiring - being in the mountains or by the sea?
7. In a difficult situation, who is your hero? (Do you ever think "What would ... do?")
8. If you only had to choose one book to bring with you to a desert isle, what would it be? 
9. First thing you do in the morning is ... (OK, of non-embarrassing things :) ) 
10. Are you a ritual person or a spontaneous person?
11. If you had to describe the meaning of life in just one word, it would be ...

 My Answers to five semi-randomly selected questions:

*I am am morning person by nature, but my illness messes with this by messing my sleep patterns up regularly.  When in remission I awake naturally perky before coffee.  I tend to go to bed early.  To be  awake with the dawn, sipping a cup of tea, watching the sunrise, is one of my favourite things. 

*In trying to decided if I am more ritual or spontaneous, I come up with random.  I am spontaneous but do not like outwardly imposed non-routine.  I hated working on call.  Loathed it.  I have a general idea of what I may want to accomplish each day and then I may do those things or I may do something else.  In the end, I have limitations which mean I will probably spend most of my day reading and writing because I need to be sedentary, so that is a sort of routine.

*I love all animals but am instinctively a cat person.  Also a guinea pig person though that was not asked.

*Introversion and extroversion are on a sliding scale and I am on the introverted side of centre (ambivert).  I am in my own head so much I am one of those people you would say has her head in the clouds.  You would say this as you witness me inflict a bruise, a burn and a cut on myself all before noon, because I am not paying attention to what my body is doing.

*The meaning of life is what you make it (I am an existentialist), and for me it is connection.  Connection involves love and compassion, tolerance, empathy, kindness, understanding, care and concern. 

If I played this properly, I would have 22 question to answer and must nominate people for this award as well.  The intent is for the award to go to new or relatively new bloggers, helping to make us better known and gain a wider audience.  Great idea!  But I will end up nominating many of the same people, since there is undoubtedly a blogging clique here, or social circle, shall we say.
Liebster is a term of endearment based on the word liebe, German for love. If I am to offer an award of affection to any bloggers it is to all of you whose blogs I enjoy reading regularly, and with whom I try to maintain a connection and engage in some dialogue. Blogging is about connecting for most of us, and if I find anyone worth connecting with, I will develop some affection for her.  So there you are, you are all my liebsters.  I am going to nominate three people from my own blog roll who are relatively new (I still had to go back three years) because the rest of my nominee list would mimic Natalia's and Elsie's.

Here are three who are delightful women and fun bloggers.

Eleven questions that have not been asked before....?  I need food and coffee, neither of which I've had yet and it's past eleven am.  I have only come up with five questions so I say, mix and match, borrow from all of the question lists and answer any eleven you choose!

1. Do you prefer art to shock, be beautiful or both?

2.  What genre of music makes you want to pull your hair out?

3.  What is your favourite fragrance? (brand names or maybe you just like vanilla)

4.  What is your most frequently occurring dream?

5.  Green thumb or black?

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Fashion Lies, Tan Lines and Garden Tips

Fashion as an art form interests me and I can see the beauty in styled fashion shoots, despite the whole issue of altered photos and their relation to body image.  Fashion rules don't appeal to me though and these rules along with changes, trends, dos and don'ts, In/Out lists etc, are all just about marketing.

If you have watched fashion perform its acts for more than a decade you have seen the same items and ways of wearing them declared hopelessly unflattering one year and then perfectly flattering and classic several years later.   Something that becomes popular (ie. a big seller) even if it actually breaks some rule about horizontal lines and chopping your legs in half or highlighting the thicker parts, will be flaunted and praised and promoted and sold to us as long as possible. 

When the rise and waist band positioning of jeans dropped drastically in the late nineties and early naughties we were told that this was a good thing because it was universally flattering and nobody mentioned muffin tops or the fact that we are all have longer or shorter rises ourselves.  High waisted jeans were hideous, unflattering, outdated and bad for everyone, we were told. The tide is turning, as it does, and not only are there a few more options available now in the form of the so called mid-rise (which is still lowish on my body)  the high rise is back and considered daring and avant-garde.  Little details will change so that you can't just haul out of the back of the closet some jeans you wore twenty years ago, unless your whole personal look is to be provocatively 'wrong'.  Someone twenty years younger than you are can wear those jeans though and look like she is deliberately doing retro-chic. 

You can, of course, call all of that crap, as it is in many ways.

The lesson, if you are paying attention, is not that there are any particular rules you have to follow, styles you have to wear to suit your body or avoid mistakenly point out all your body's widest parts (except the wide parts that are socially acceptable and desirable)  but that you should just wear whatever the hell you want to because the rules don't matter.  Even when they are technically correct, they don't matter, they will change, it's all a scam.  If you like it, wear it.  Yes, there are probably proportions and shapes that look more pleasing to the eye, but who says you have to please everyone's eyes?

Our eyes adjust to silhouettes that once startled us.  I have found myself eventually liking trends I initially thought looked silly, because after awhile I have seen the look everywhere and it normalises.  If it is very trendy, the appeal of looking 'in' sometimes outweighs doing what actually suits your body shape.  We are approaching a time when there are more options and we aren't trapped in only being able to buy or wear what is the current popular look, and I feel very hopeful that this will last.  Strangely it has taken ages for designers to realise that the more options there are the more they can sell to more people.  I would have thought that a no-brainer but I guess I'm a genius.

So I leave you with a photo of myself, wearing whatever the hell I please, faux pas, no-nos, and not perfectly flattering or trendy be damned!  This happens to be my signature look - a skirt under a dress.  The dress is purple (purple and green are one of my favourite combinations) but in this photo looks almost black, and so does my hair!  This is a barefoot around home look, typical of me but when I go out later tonight with my most beloved and handsome son, I will actually wear sandals.

 I always chuckle when you can see a tan line on me and it just proves that I am naturally even paler than what you usually see. Vanity compels me to add that the roll under my bust is the dress and not me.  I care enough to mention that, but not enough to give up the dress.

I snapped this quick pic of dresses hanging up to dry as evidence of just how colourful my wardrobe can actually be, even though, as with the pic above, the photo is a bit dark and dim.  I seem to get a bit more colourful in summer when the light is more intense.  I used that same principle in my garden, paler, softer colours in spring when the light is more diffused and still cool, brighter and stronger colours mid-summer under the light that is so intense it can make a soft pink flower looked washed out.  Purple and red flowers were always a favourite then.