Monday, December 27, 2010

Shoe of the Week: In Praise of the Multifaceted Boot

I did not pack very well for my trip, but I did pack these because they go with both dresses and pants, casual or not.  But what sealed the deal for their Shoe of the Week status was that I got two compliments on them as we were walking around Alameda today.  One person went so far as to say they were "jaunty."  I liked that.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Failure of Imagination

As we're having a rather nontraditional Christmas (multiple Christmas events to include various family members), we (the nuclear family of three) went out in search of Chinese food and a movie yesterday.  We found Thai and Tron.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Want and To Have

My motto (and late birthday gift):

As a counterpart to this, you need to watch I Want a Tattoo.  Too funny and too common.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shoe of the Week: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

I have chosen these Clergerie heels because they speak to one of my goals in the new year - more dress up opportunities.  Mostly, I  think I'll have to create the moments to wear them as I'm not involved in major philanthropy, run with a jet-set crowd, or attend many black tie events.  But that's okay, in general I show up to things overdressed and upping the ante should be fun.  Also, part of the new year for me will be creating the opportunities I seek.

Party on!

Monday, December 13, 2010

True Confession!

I just watched three episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians back to back, and enjoyed it.  My mother would not be pleased, but I actually found it kind of charming.  I don't know why.  I may never watch it again (one reason I spent the last hour and a half watching it is because she who has likes to control the TV is not here), but now I see the appeal, to an extent.

Shoe of the week will return soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Super Power

Recently I was asked what super power I would choose if I could have one.  I decided that my super power would be the ability to suspend time.  I'd be able to basically put everyone & everything on pause so I could...wait for it...get more done!  I feel that it may lack a bit of imagination - I don't want to go back in time (we all know how that turns out), and I don't feel the need to shape shift or anything like that.  What I need is time, and more of it.

Then I read "The Gift of Time" in the holiday issue of "T," the style magazine of the New York Times, and I felt like I might not be alone.

And you, what's your super power?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Recent Idea

I think I'm going to undertake a survey of people who are 50 and older.  What I'd like to know is - what's it like getting older?  How's their experience been?  What do they wish they'd known going into it beforehand?

I feel like no one really talks about it, and as I'm aging, I'd like to know.  I know so many interesting women and men who defy conventional ideas around age.  Most of what we get about aging deals with difficulty getting in and out of the tub, lack of sexual drive, and falling but not being able to get up.  I have to believe there's more to it than that.  My plan is to come up with a simple survey, send it about, and then post replies with photos when the mood strikes.

If you're interested in participating, please send me a note at propertension(at) or leave a comment here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shoe of the Week: Time to Get Back to It

Sure it's freezing outside, but I've signed up for the 30K Around the Bay Race at the end of March.  Cold or not, it's time to start lacing these up again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bundle Up!

Sent to my by a friend.  If anyone knows the artist, please let me know.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just a Little Local Beauty

I saw this kale at the Farmers' Market last week and couldn't pass it up.
It's a little high contrast, but I really wanted to get the fantastic purple colour.
It was also mighty delicious!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Knitting Away

I'm in a moment of deep avoidance.  Home alone, I should be taking advantage of another hour or two of quiet to get some work done.
     But I'm just not feeling it.
     So now I'm fantasizing about starting a new knitting project, a project just for me.  Knitting is a real source of pleasure for me, and it also makes a statement.  It states that I have (or will take) the time and inclination to be creative, that I can actually engage in something so (relatively) slow, that I have allowed myself to engage in a tactile world.  Maybe it's because I haven't been engaged in a project recently that I'm feeling out-of-sorts.  Or maybe it's because I have a ton of marking to do.  That could be it as well.

Shoe of the Week: These Boots...

Wonky photo, I know, but I was wearing them as I snapped them.  These are my non-brand specified (but made in Texas) cowboy boots that I picked up at the Value Village in Calgary.  Somehow all those details work together.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grammar and Politics

On my drive down to DC this weekend (to see my parents), I saw a billboard along the Pennsylvania Turnpike that read "Repeal the Marxist Occupation of Washington."  This is just one more sign that conservative Republicans/Tea Party members (yes, tea baggers!) are ill-informed*.  You don't repeal an occupation.  You repeal the law that set up the school that educated you.

Really now.

*Please note - unfortunately ill-informed often leads to dangerous.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


It's so amazing and wonderful that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has finally been released from house arrest.  Let's hope that this moment leads to many more moments that affirm our basic human rights and our right to speak out against injustice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Challenge for You

Here's your challenge:  show up.  Just show up for someone or something.  It might mean going to an event, communicating, or putting yourself out there in another way, but it could make a difference to someone. 

Don't assume that everyone else in the audience will clap while you just sit there.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Better Late than Never?

Ever feel like you're late to the party?  Yesterday I discovered Wardrobe Re*Fashion, a site where people pledge (you know how much I love pledges, promises, & challenges) to abstain from buying any new clothing for a set period of time (2, 4, or 6 months or for life (!)) and instead refashion/recraft/recycle existing items (or used items in general).  It sounded perfect for a girl like me who is on a deep budget and has often turned to retail therapy for help. (Imagine if I'd been able to go shopping yesterday - that post would never have happened!)

Of course, it's all over now.  The blogmistress has ended it, which makes me sad.  I wasn't quite ready to bite the bullet (it is coming up on holiday party season after all), but I have my finger on the trigger (just to continue the gun metaphor).  For example, yesterday I put a couple of darts in the jacket/top of my father's old fatigues and am planning on doing a little beading on it as well.  I'm also considering all the alterations I can make to an oversized cashmere sweater from Value Village (my low-cost shrink) now that I'm rocking my serger.

Nonetheless, the blog will stay up, and you can see all the craftiness that is out there.  Anyone know of similar sites that are still operational?  Maybe I can just be fashionably late this time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Letting It Go

So, it was the birthday of my blog this weekend, which happens to coincide with my own birthday (as well as Florence's birthday - happy, happy to you!).  I had a number of moments when I was going to post something, but I let it go.  I let it go because my posts would've been pretty negative/depressing.  It was a trying weekend...well, week actually, and while it ultimately turned out well, it was not before I had some incredible lows.

In the end, I had a good time with friends on Saturday evening (I actually cancelled plans for earlier that day) as well as on Sunday; however, I think I'm glad my birthday is over.

Shoe of the Week: Green in More Ways Than One

A friend of mine has fallen in love with El Naturalista shoes, and I saw another pair outside the yoga studio (yes, I picked up someone's shoes to see the brand - what?).  These boots are very cool, the company seems to have some ethics behind them, plus they provide narratives about the trips that inspired each model.   Seems like a lot of bang for you buck.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kitchen Update

1.  The sauerkraut hasn't quite behaved as planned.  There's a bit of mold maintenance, but I am not discouraged or dissuaded.  I'll put it in the fridge in the next couple of days.

2.  Made my first batch of fruitcake (yes, fruitcake) Wednesday night; expecting to make another fruitcake (a light one this time) this weekend.

3.  Got kefir grains from someone at the yoga studio and made a little batch.  Pretty soon I'm going to turn into a 'dirty hippy' if I'm not careful.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shoe of the Week: The One That Started It All

Oft imitated, but truly an original.  This is the shoe that got me back to wearing high heels.  I saw it in Vogue, in 1994 or 1995, and I knew they were something special.  Fifteen years later, they still are.   What I love about this photo is that you can see just a hint of the sunset reflected in the toe of the shoes.  Need I say more?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Are you still writing?"

That was the question a former classmate/friend from graduate school asked me last night when I went to say hi to him after his reading.  It wasn't the only question, but the question I remember most (followed closely by "Why did you move to Hamilton?").  It might seem like an innocent enough question, but it was one that made me chafe and start a small spiral of doubt.

That's why whenever I see an old writing friend, I always ask "How's your writing?"  And here's why.  Being a writer is kind of like being a pet owner.  One should always assume your pet is alive, and so it is with writing, whether that "pet" is going on long runs with you, chasing a car, or sleeping all day.  To continue that analogy, most pet owners get a new pet when old faithful ceases to be.  It's much like writing - if you're not writing the same stuff you were before, you're probably writing something else now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Sometimes my days get away from me.  It's usually the result of an unexpected errand or responsibility.  Today has been one of those days.  Sometimes it's just better to go with it, so I continued the cooking jag making potato leek soup and sauerkraut.

I think the sauerkraut will be one of my holiday gifts (if you're on my list and hate sauerkraut, don't worry - I know).  As you might guess, I am a friend of fermentation (one of the clubs at Hampshire College where Ian went), and I"m quite excited to see how this experiment will turn out.  I followed a rather simple albeit physical (pounding cabbage for 10 minutes) recipe from Saveur which uses only cabbage and kosher salt.

(This bad boy weighed 7 pounds.)

(Looks majestic, doesn't it?)

Now it's a matter of waiting and attending (but not hovering).  It'll be ready in as little as 10 days for "new" sauerkraut, described in the Saveur article as "[z]ingy and effervescent."  I'm not going to mess with it in this go-around.  Next time I'll see about adding caraway seeds or using white wine.

Next up?  Kimchi!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Poor Self-Promotion

Yes, it's poor self-promotion when you write the url for your art collective's website incorrectly.  The Shake-n-Make website is at

Images from the Bay Area

There really aren't many photos from my trip to the California bay area; however, I have a few highlights.

Britex Fabrics - four floors of fabrics & notions.  I demonstrated amazing restraint in the face of so much temptation and will try to get a photo up in the next day or so of the woven silk plaid I bought (on sale).

Ian and a giant pumpkin at the Berkeley Bowl.  A fellow shopper tried to use the photo op as a pick-up opportunity.  He seemed to mistake my interest in giant squash for more than it was.
The one photo Ian was able to take of me at the marathon.  I'm headed toward the finish line so I imagine my expression is one of grim relief.
And finally, it was the birthday of one of my hosts so I made him this hat out of some Malabrigo Celine gave me.  Thanks, Celine.  The hat turned out great, and he seemed to love it.  I got the pattern from Ravelry - Irish Hiking Hat.  I made one in black for myself last year.

(Note:  His favourite colour is orange so the colour choice was not as out there as it might initially have seemed.)

I finally feel like I'm catching up on, well - everything.  I'm rested, finally, and am getting back to my routines and rituals.  I'm hoping to go for a run tomorrow.  Today I'm deep into making stock (chicken & veg).  I'm feeling a heavy week of cooking and freezing coming on (inspired, in part, by Adawg).   Even though the weather here is pretty mild, I'm getting ready for some winter nesting.

Shoe of the Week: Landgirl/Granny Chic

I love the British term "landgirl," which I translate to mean rural/country girl.  Anyway, these Chie Mihara shoes have a bit of both landgirl and granny to them, which is a sturdy, to say the least, combination.  They might be considered a fitting synthesis of rustic and refined.  Plus, I think these will look good with socks.  Yes, I'm going to wear socks with my pumps.  I don't care how old I am.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Okay, it's supposed to be a combination of "knit" and "inspiration," but I could see how it might sound like a combo of "knit" and "desperation," but notice the "i" instead of the "e."  Nevertheless they are both quite familiar to me.

Anyway, this is about Lisa Anne Auerbach, who Ian's girlfriend turned me on to.  I'm still getting to know her via her blog and website, but she seems like the kind of person we all want to know - artist, foodie, Scorpio (!!!), knitter, biker, and probably more.  And when I saw "we," I mean the royal "we," mainly "me."  Check out some of her text-based work via sweaters here.

And because I keep forgetting - check out our Shake-n-Make website.  The art collective (and no, it's not just me) finally has online documentation.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marathon Monday

No, it's not a marathon post, but a short post about the marathon yesterday.

I had three goals, two of which I met:  I finished, and I finished with a better time than my first marathon (New York) nine years ago.  My third goal was to come in under 5 hours.  My official time is 5:12:40.  I'm cool with that, and now I have a plan for the next one (!).  I know I need a) people along the course cheering me on either because they know me or I've put my name on my shirt so they can say "Go Claudia!" and b) someone to run either the entire thing with me or the last five miles.   It was a hard slog from mile 21 or so to mile 25.  Quite honestly, I didn't anticipate the profound feeling of being alone during that time despite the other runners and spectators.  I thought I could do it alone.   Thankfully a woman running by me during that last mile invited me to run with her, which made all the difference - thanks, unknown woman!

One more day in the bay area and then I head back home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bonus Shoe

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm dickin' around the internet when I really should be packing, but look what I found!
Are these Trippen shoes cool or what?  Cool and made by "my people" - the Germans.  Of course!  I found them at gravity pope where you can check out more views of them.   Hmm, time to see if I can squeak some pennies to save out of my weekly budget.

The Week That Was and Will Be

Here's the thing - I'm constantly thinking about things to bring up here, but I can't quite sit down and post them.  Then suddenly there's a backlog of conversations I'd love to engage in.  At this point the first idea feels old, but still interesting, and the next thing I know I haven't posted a damn thing, and I don't want to put up an epic post.

So a return to my favourite:  the list.
  1. Most pressing - I run the marathon on Sunday.  (My shoe of the week was going to be my running shoes, but I can't find my camera - sense a theme here?)
  2. Went to the Sabres' season opener and saw the Rangers kick their ass.  Oh joy, oh rapture!
  3. Attended the workroom anniversary party with Celine and a blog friend of hers from France.  She has friends that she only knows via blogging & email!  It is the modern-day version of meeting your pen pal.  Sigh.
Not surprisingly I thought this list would be longer.  However, there it is in a nutshell.  Hopefully I can find my camera so I can post photos from my trip out to the bay area.  Maybe there will even be a triumphant one of me crossing the finish line.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Expanded Ventures

I finally feel like I'm in a good groove for the new season and semester.  There's a lot I want to accomplish, and there are a lot of things that I'm working on simultaneously like finishing my short story collection, paying down my debts (while still finding ways to do the things I like to do), and meeting my obligations.

Not that this is new, but I'm on a budget.  We're trying to go to Berlin in 2013, and our goal is to be debt-free when we go.  The budget has been challenging; however, on the best days, I treat it like a new way to be crafty because to live happily on a budget you have to be crafty.

Some of the ways I've cut costs as well as added funding have been:  playing hockey only once a week (instead of twice), reimagining my existing wardrobe (new combos and so forth), doing an "energy exchange" for my yoga classes, selling stuff on ebay (my user name is "hopespringseternal"), and working one day a week at the Melissa (read a recent review here).  Here I am in front of the store last December:
I'm really excited to be working there.  It started as a way to help my friend out, and now it's become (even before my first day in the shop) another creative outlet for me - dressing for retail!  Yes, everything is an opportunity for a new way to look at your wardrobe.  I'm sensing a lot of hats for this one.

In other areas - I'm less than two weeks away from the marathon in San Francisco.  I ran 21.5 miles last week, and it made me feel good about the whole thing.  I'm in the lovely tapering phase right now; my runs are getting shorter in preparation.  I'm still nervous, but I've taken pressure off myself by just focusing on the run itself and not my time or any of those other concerns.  Plus, I get to see 'the boy' (aka our son), which is worth crawling the entire thing.

And prep is another theme for me right now.  Not to make your eyes roll, but I am thinking about the upcoming December holidays.  As someone who tries to make the majority of her gifts, I need to make a plan so that I don't spend all of December in the "craftory" - the craft factory.  Prep is a way to maintain holiday sanity as well.

All in all, everything feels pretty good.  I hope I can find ways to expand that feeling throughout the upcoming months and beyond.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It Gets Better

Please check out these videos from ACLU staffers done in conjunction with Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project."  Savage talks about the impetus behind this project, the suicide of a 15-year old kid in Indiana who'd been tormented by his peers, in his column on September 23, 2010.

I think that not only do we have to tell kids it gets better, but we need to make sure there are local places where they can find support while they're growing up.  Sometimes it's hard to believe things will get better when you feel like you can't survive another day.  Maybe we can give them another day, and then another, and then another, until it genuinely gets better.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shoe of the Week: Hand-crafted Booties

When we were in Vancouver earlier this year, I picked up these Cydwoq boots on sale.  They have a wonderfully rich brown colour to them, and they're super cool looking as well as comfortable.  I can hear the crackling of leaves underfoot already.

October Fun

It has suddenly become fall here.  And yesterday was surprisingly cold and damp, but we had a date to get some pumpkins.  The crappy weather meant we didn't have to deal with the crowds, which suited us just fine.

Here we are (minus our photographer) ready for action.  I thought Carhartt overalls with a cap picked up in a thrift store in London suited the weather and vibe of the day.

Pumpkin city!

 Before me sit five lovely pumpkins, but only one will go on in hopes of becoming Claudia & Liss' Top Pumpkin.  (Actually, we took two.)

 No crowds meant more room for us to lounge on the hay ride (which was really a tractor pull sans hay, but fun nonetheless).

Welcome autumn!

Wardrobe Challenge

On Saturday I was scheduled to give a Creative Nonfiction workshop at the University of Western Ontario for alumni attending Homecoming Weekend.  Because I am not a morning person and my workshop was scheduled for 9am, I decided to spend the night at a friend's in London.

It was while driving to London (about an hour and a half away) that I realized that while I had my suitcase, a couple of beers to share, and my purse, my outfit was still hanging on the doorjamb of my office.  It was then that I entered my own reality show challenge:  make an outfit out of what you can find at your friend's place.

Let me set the stage - my friend (a guy) wears predominantly plaid flannel shirts.  I believe he likes to rotate a wardrobe of three or four.  However, he's house-sitting, which meant there might be clothes left behind by the homeowners.  I could only hope for the best.  At the time I was still wearing what I'd hiked in earlier that day (loose jeans and a long sleeve wicking shirt) with my clogs (which I'd intended to wear Saturday morning with a Comme des Garcons dress over a white shirt).

Not only did I forget my outfit, but I packed leggings instead of tights, which just spiced up the challenge.

Here's the best I could come up with.  What you can't see is that the waistband of the skirt is tucked into the top of my leggings so it wouldn't ride down.
Not my regular style, but it seemed to be okay.  My friend could not help me so I borrowed clothes from the couple whose house it was.  It was definitely a challenge.  Hopefully one I won't have to repeat.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Absence

A quick note on the silence of this blog over the last week.  I was working at the Coterie show (fashion tradeshow) in New York last week, and well, I didn't bring my computer nor did I have the energy to update my blog.  That's just the kind of blogger I am.

Just to round out my profile - I'm not on Facebook, rarely use my cell phone, and think tweeting, in general, is kind of stupid.  I know, some unpopular opinions.  You can just add them to my growing list.

Shoe of the Week: Curious but Cool

These odd little shoes are the result of a collaboration between Puma and Phillipe Starck.   To me, they're a cross between clogs, Finnish house slippers, and an egg - or something like that.  I bought them at Daffy's, where they were marked $5.00; however, I only paid $1.25 because they were 75% off.  Even if I wear them once and donate them, they'll be worth it.  I am, however, thinking about making a crazy orange felt dress to go with them.  We'll see how that turns out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shoe of the Week: Feeling Frisky

I could feel very frisky in these leopard-printed calfskin pumps by Rochas.  I particularly love the heel.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Definitely Not Fashionable

On Sunday I ran 16.5 miles as part of my marathon training. I've switched to a 10/1 run/walk mode (run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute) for the longer runs, and it's making a huge difference - both physically and pyschologically.  I plan on running my marathon that way.  I ran a half marathon the previous Sunday, and it left me feeling a little despondent.  I felt tired, hot, and cranky and wondered how I'd ever run a full marathon, so having a new strategy and putting a few solid runs under my belt since then has helped immensely.

Besides being able to wear shorter skirts and dresses and my increased endurance, I have another, more hardcore, sign of my work pounding out the miles.  Note:  these photos are not for the faint of heart.

Behold!  Runners' feet:
My lovely blister (thanks to my poor choice in socks for the half marathon):
I know!  It's pretty scary, but are you surprised to learn that I'm proud as well?

I've never had pretty feet.  No one in my family has pretty feet, but we work with what we've got.  You'd be surprised what a little pedicure can do to make these bad girls fit for daylight.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shoe of the Week: End of Summer

Last week it was about dressing up again.  This week it's about sloughing about in a bit of casualness comme les Fran├žais.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dapper Day in Toronto

Yesterday was a day to catch up with some friends and errands in Toronto.  Yes, I'm often cranky about the city and its inhabitants, but it also has its strong points.

Firstly, we stopped at the Melissa, a vintage store I wrote about in a post at the end of November.  It's still going strong, and Melissa herself pulled out this incredible white open work/lace 60's dress that I would never have chosen for myself, but after trying it on, it is mine.  I'll post a photo of it soon.  Who knew that I'd once again let the hemline stop at mid-thigh?  It's probably all that running.

While poking around the shop, this dapper fellow came in:
Meet Craig Renaud, a fledgling fashion designer.  I really liked the mix of elements in this outfit:  the lace at the cuffs, the buttoned and chained waistcoat, the walking stick, etc.  One thing you can't see is that his bag (the strap crosses his chest) had all these band names and patches on it.  I appreciated the creative anachronism displayed.  It made it quite modern.

After our errands, we headed to Fresh for dinner.  I was excited that we had the same waiter we'd had months earlier because I'd loved this tattoo:
How tough is that?  "Read More."  Again, it's a call to engage in a more traditional medium, and of course, as a writer, I'm all in favour of people reading more. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crafty and All That It Entails

For me, crafty is an excellent word because it emcompasses so many areas.  The area in which I am currently trying hardest to be crafty (and heretofore has not necessarily been a crafty area) is money.  Yes, I know, times are hard, the economy is struggling, jobs are being cut etcetera etcetera, and I'm not saying that in a blase way.  I'm saying it because those are the ways people try to make it sound like it's nothing new, that everyone is doing it, a way for them to negate your attempts.  I'm not sure I believe that. (I really wanted to "buy" that, but I'm on a budget.)

Nonetheless, I am shopping my own closet so far bringing back at least one, if not two, vintage Jil Sander suits, and a long black leather Banana Republic skirt.  I'm looking at the September issues of magazines and seeing what interests and inspires me.  Of course, as a curvy girl who knits, I'm loving the return of the sweater girl look - full skirts and fitted pullovers.

A problem with being crafty is often thinking "Oh, I could make that," so I rarely buy sweaters anymore and will often turn away from a dress or skirt I think I could make.  The problem is not with thinking one can make that, but believing one will make that within the time one wants to wear it.  For example, on my "Projects List" is a glitter t-shirt, which was to be my version of a Meadham Kirchhoff t-shirt from S/S10:

I'd say I was maybe halfway through.  I'm almost done with the lining and then should be able to whip up (hah!) the top layer, but hey, it's September already.  Guess it'll look great next spring as well...

I've already knit my contribution to the chunky cabled sock look and thankfully already have some sweaters that will do work quite nicely this fall.  However, there are plenty of free patterns on Ravelry, like these two, that definitely echo what we're seeing in our magazines if you're feeling crafty.  (Please note, knitting is not a cheap hobby.  Really.  Sometimes it is less expensive to buy the sweater, or you could do as I have - thrift a knit sweater in a suitable weight, unravel it, and harvest the yarn!)
Wishbone sweater published in Berroco

Shauna sweater published by Louet
I'm looking forward to finding even more ways to be crafty this fall.   I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

And Since We're Talking Prada...

Well, it's really about this shot from the Miu Miu campaign:
Is it just me or are you weirded out, just a little, by the woman in the lavender skirt?  I love Miuccia and what she does, but I'm not so sure I'm loving these looks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Emmys & Hair

I wasn't moved by anyone's look last night at the Emmys; however, I was really underwhelmed by the hair.  Is it a California thing that your hair is the least important part of your ensemble?  Make some effort already.

I have super short hair, but I really want to wear my hair as seen on the Prada runway.  Quite frankly, it would've looked good on a number of the leading ladies at the Emmys last night.

Shoe of the Week: Ready to Dress Again


While there's a heatwave afoot in Hamilton, my thoughts continue toward fall.  I'm ready to start dressing again after the inevitable casualness of the summer.  With kitten heels coming back and lots of Mad Men references on the runway, it's only a matter of time before I find gloves and hat to match.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why Hamilton Is Not the New Brooklyn

Listen, as someone who lived in Brooklyn for over a decade before coming up north no one more than I would like to believe that Hamilton could be the new Brooklyn (except maybe Torontonians, and I’ll get to them in a minute).  This is a phrase that’s been thrown around since before I moved here over five years ago (most recently in the Globe & Mail).  However, I think it’s time to kill that rumour, and here’s a detailed list of five reasons why.

1.  First and foremost, if Hamilton were Brooklyn that would mean that Toronto would be Manhattan.  This is where Torontonians might be invested in such an analogy.   Sorry to disappoint, but Toronto is so far from being Manhattan that it would be faster and easier to actually walk to the real borough than try to make Toronto into Manhattan.  Toronto is a fine city, “clean” as one of my New York friends once said, but it is a polite, well-rehearsed version of a city.

2.  Hamilton has no pretensions as to what it is, and that is one of the things I like about it.  It is what it is, which is a struggling steel town that houses a well-regarded university.  Culturally, it’s got great local music and art scenes as well as the Art Gallery of Hamilton and a Royal Botanical Gardens (okay, it borders Burlington).  However, Hamilton’s unknown theme is “Coming Soon.”  Most major changes are in a state of arrested development known as ‘coming soon,’ and that seems fine with a majority of the city’s inhabitants.

3.  Many of the people who have made Brooklyn Brooklyn didn’t actually grow up there.  They moved from Manhattan because the rents were too high or they came directly to Brooklyn from other parts of the United States.  When my partner was first moving to Hamilton, we came up for a visit and to find her a place to live.  At the border we told the officer we were on vacation and that we were going to Hamilton.  He replied, “No one goes to Hamilton on vacation.” 

People from Toronto talk about moving to Hamilton, but rarely does anyone actually bite the bullet, or they do but can’t stick it out because their friends won’t visit.  Torontonians can be worse than Manhattanites when it comes to making the trip out.  You’d think it involved a border crossing with mandatory cavity searches.  If you want to think that Hamilton is the new Brooklyn, then pack it on up and move on out here.

4.  Three things in a nutshell:  restaurants, shopping, transportation options. [Edit 11.25.12: this is changing.]

5.  Finally, why does it need to be thought of in that way?  People often ask me how it was to move from Brooklyn to Hamilton.  I’ve always said it was fine because I didn’t expect Hamilton to be New York City.  It wasn’t a case of lowered expectations but an idea that Hamilton would be its own thing, and that’s what’s really important here.  Let Hamilton develop into its own, cool, funky city.  It doesn’t have to be the Brooklyn of Ontario (what a title!).  It needs to be Hamilton.

I could probably talk about other things, but I think that these five areas are really the major reasons why Hamilton is not, nor will be, the new Brooklyn.   And you know what, that should be just fine.

[Edit 11.25.12 - I realize due to a recent article, people have bee visiting this post.  What should be clear is that Hamilton rocks - because it is Hamilton and not a pale imitation of another city.  And if you want to try Hamilton, check out our listing on Sabbatical Homes]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What September Means to Me

September is my New Year’s.  In fact, it’s more significant than that first day of January ever really is.  I am far more synced into the school year than I am to the calendar year.  September:  end of summer/start of the school year and fall; the entryway to the months I treasure – October, November, and December; the harvest, the canning, and the storing; the holidays (my birthday among them) and attendant crafting; and last but certainly not least – fall fashion and all the September issues.

It’s been a quiet few weeks here, and at first I just thought it was the natural result of being away for so long.  Time to catch up, as it were, on things back at the homestead.  But I also knew that I wanted to revisit this blog and see what I wanted to do with it.  I never intended it to be a “What I did today” kind of blog, but more of a “How my life highlights these tensions and hey, do you feel them, too?” kind of blog.  I have to believe that there are people out there interested in navigating these tensions.  What’s it like to be a punk rocker who is now deep into fashion?  How do you reconcile the desire for self-sufficiency with a wonderfully fulfilling shoe addiction?  Proud to live downtown but tired of your crack-y neighbors?  Any problems being a social smoker and a runner?  Etcetera, etcetera.

So I’m focusing.  Having been away allowed me to see different ways to be myself.  I am constantly trying to integrate these parts of me, and trying to do it publicly forces me to decide what’s important and what is not.  Am I afraid to reveal things here?  Sure, but that fear allows me to think about why and then figure out what’s important to my sense of self.  I know I have friends out there who see some of my posts as evidence of insecurities that I generally don’t reveal in my day-to-day constructed self, and guess what – they are!  And more to the point - who cares?   I don’t need to always be on, intimidating (once a student said to me, “You’re intimidating, but in a nice way.”  Huh?), or self-assured.   I am who I am, and I’m thinking about how to be even more so in the coming year and how this blog will play a role in that.

Rock on with your bad self.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

MichFest 2010

We've come back to Hamilton, and reentry is a little difficult.  (We're still wearing our festival bracelets - yes, clinging to the memory).  Here's what I want to say about the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - it was fanfuckingtastic.   I won't try to explain it in detail here because I have the feeling it'll be like trying to explain a tattoo or recount a dream - it's never quite right, and the listener usually says something polite like, "Oh."

Instead, here are ten things (in the order in which they came to me, not their importance) about MichFest that are still keeping my buzzing (seriously, I'm like a live wire right now):
1.  Living in a world totally sustained by women (sorry, haven't made the commitment to the other spelling, just live with it).  The men were only allowed on the land (under the cover of darkness and accompanied by women - quick avert your eyes!) to clean the Porta-Janes (or, as Liss and I term it, to suck our stink) and empty the trash.
2.  Excellent music range.  Particularly great were Sistas in the Pit, Slanty-Eyed Mama, and Tender Forever as well as the Butchies' version of the Runaways' hit Cherry Bomb.  (insert a big sigh from me here)  I mean, where else would you want to hear Cherry Bomb?
3.  The women themselves.  Okay, let me be clearer - there were some majorly hot butches on the land.  There.  It was amazing.  Let me leave it at that.
4.  Dancing.
5.  Crazy vegetarian food that I ended up craving.  For example, I'm going out to buy some nutritional yeast, a lesbian super-food.  I like to think of it as the fairy dust of Michigan.
6.  Comedian Julie Goldman - wet-yourself (in a Depends-kind of way) funny, and yes, cute.
7. The opportunity to be as crazy, sexy, outrageous, nasty, polite, freaky, etc. as you wanted to be and to find that you're still surrounded by people who are generous and nice.
8.  Outdoor showers.
9.  The chance to stand right beneath fireworks.  It was breath-taking and felt like tripping (good trip, not bad trip). 
10.  The opportunity for some major epiphanies, which I won't share here.

So I drank the Kool-Aid, and it was good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

(Almost) Over too soon

(The "yard horse" down the street from us) 
While it feels like we’ve only just settled into our routines here, we leave in just a few days.  This year I didn’t quite plow through as many books, complete as many projects, or read all the NYTimes Book Reviews I’d brought with me.  Such is life.
    I did finish the Elizabeth George book (With No One to Witness).  Reading mysteries is a must-do here, and I’m glad I got at least one in.  Although had it not been over 700 pages in length, I might very well have read another one too.
    As for knitting, I’m deep into my Noro sweater, which is giving me great love and satisfaction.  The Cash Iroha yarn is amazing.  I’ve finished the back (making a few adjustments like adding a selvedge stitch at each end and leaving the shoulder stitches live so I can use a Kitchner stitch to put the sweater together) and have started the front.
    Unfortunately, the love didn’t extend to the tank top I’d actually finished and stitched together.  Yes, after working the armhole a couple of times, I realized that the whole thing was too big and that I would never wear it in its current manifestation.  I’ve taken it apart and already ripped out the back.  I’ll rip out the front when I get back.  I just couldn’t stand it as it was and will reknit it (once I recover from the trauma of needing to “put it down”) in the smaller size.
    We’re not always just hanging around the cottage.  Last week we took a day trip out to Joggins (fossil cliffs) and Cap D’Or.

We’d never been to Joggins (the photo above is my feet on the rocks of the beach), but it was pretty cool.  We found what we think are fossils, which we photographed (on Liss’ camera).  I was really good and resisted my acquisitive desires by not taking one home with me (you can only take a fossil if you have a permit).  I was tempted.
    We’ve been to the Lighthouse on Cape D’Or before.  It was our “nice” dinner out – the restaurant is good and the setting is gorgeous.   However, my choice of footwear for the evening teetered dangerously on the border of foolhardy and stupid.
    Here’s the path:

Here’s where we were headed:
And this is what I wore on my feet:
    I am, however, determined and managed to make it down unscathed.  Going back up was no problem (as anyone who wears heels knows – up is always easier).
    We saw some incredible riptides after dinner:
And a great moon over the horizon sent us home.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I canned some beans from Green Dragon, a local organic biodynamic farm and B&B.
Two pounds of beans actually ended up making four quart jars of pickled beans.  Because of the relatively small yield, I generally tend to hoard them rather than give them as gifts.  Last year I made a ton of strawberry jams and raspberry jam, but not this year.  I still have strawberry products left from last year, and we just didn’t make it to raspberry picking this year.  I imagine if we’d been here for our usual stay (four weeks), it might have happened.  But maybe not.
    And finally, I’m back running.  After taking advice from both my father and my physiotherapist (sent her an email with a photo documenting area of pain), I’m back on track.  The problem may have stemmed from my shoes so I’ve ordered a new pair, put new insoles in the old pair, and am switching between my old running shoes and my trail running shoes.  I’ve been running steadily since last Friday and did an 11-mile run on Sunday.  So far, so good.
    From here we’re going to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (stopping near home along the way).  Yes, we’re headed to “the land.”  It’ll be our first time.  I’m looking forward to making Liss learn how to swing dance and playing some ultimate Frisbee.  We’ll see how it all goes.