Saturday, December 13, 2014

Brighter Skies at Home

grey cape with blue skies on Friday
Monsieur and I returned home Wednesday to torrential rains and wind. The bougainvillaea and cacti  are just a memory for another year. Retirement certainly brings surprises and challenges. These weeks in Arizona and some summer trips to the Methow Valley in Washington State tend to be our only holidays as a couple. Monsieur is definitely more of a homebody than I am.

When I retired three years ago, Monsieur was still working and was only playing music from time to time. He has since joined two bands and is singing occasionally. There are regular rehearsals and much of Monsieur's life is involved with his music.

In addition to reading blogs, I enjoy listening to podcasts. Recently, I listened to The Ballad of Tin Ears on CBC Radio's Ideas. Although I know all the lyrics to the great Broadway musicals, I am completely
tone deaf! We tested it and I really can not distinguish pitch. I am not embarking on a musical career any time soon!

Soon a new year will be upon us and I will have another birthday in January. Another year has almost passed. My father has been gone 2 years in January. Although Maman misses him every day, our lives carry on. I am aware of the more frequent aches and pains in my own ageing body.

So my challenge in the new year is to try to find more engaging activities in my own neighbourhood. My retirement plan involved "front loading" travel for my healthiest years (60-65). I will be 63 in January so now is the time to create my "at home" life.

Before I went away, I took a course in Writing a Children's Book. Yesterday, I met with a publisher who is going to mentor me in the process. I have written since I was a little girl and I am constantly reading.  At University, I studied English and French literature as an undergraduate and Children's lit as a postgraduate. I will be working with X to develop a story that I hopefully will publish. I am always happiest when I have a project.

Monsieur drove me to Granville Island for my meeting. The skies were blue and clear. I put on my charcoal cape and grey Eileen Fisher pants to walk along the waterfront. We stopped for lunch at The Vancouver Fish Company. I have eaten in so many restaurants and dining rooms recently that I am really looking forward to simpler fare.

I have hardly thought about Christmas. Our gift list has shrunk as more family members have opted out of the gift exchange. It is a relief! We will spend some time together but gift giving will not be our focus. There are some special Advent services at our neighbourhood church and I am looking forward to a Christmas Cantata.

My challenge for today is a performance of one of Monsieur's bands at a larger, probably noisy venue. The band doesn't play until 10:00 and Madame finds band wife a very stressful role. Oh well! Life is about compromise.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Prickly Pals and What I Wore

standing in our garden
We have been staying in our casita for almost two weeks. The weather has been very pleasant (averaging in the low 70's Fahrenheit) and with only one rain storm. In Tucson, there are 350 days of sunshine. Hummingbirds visit our bougainvillaea and yesterday I saw a bright red cardinal as I took out the garbage. The rain made  palo verde trees even greener. Unfortunately, as I was posing for this photo, I was stuck by the jumping cholla.
The cholla babies stick on to you if you get near them.
Monsieur and I both found small chollas stuck to our shoes. I was very glad that I was wearing long pants and my Bernie Mev shoes. I have worn these blue-grey Mary Janes all over the Caribbean and the desert. I have my Josef Seibel sandals for other occasions but I really prefer a closed shoe for exploring.There is better support and much more protection for the feet.

During the trip, I have worn the same articles of clothing repeatedly. I bought my blue/grey Mint Velvet top at the House of Fraser in London in the spring. It's light, lined and the right colours for my new wardrobe. I probably won't be in Britain in the coming year so I may have to rely on the House of Fraser website. I would certainly prefer to shop locally but the selection for "mature women of traditional build" is just not there.

Speaking of maturity, I have a new favourite show Last Tango in Halifax. The BBC series is set in West Yorkshire and is the tale of two septuagenarians who rediscover each other on Facebook after having missed a meeting 60 years before. The couple, played by Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, each come with an assortment of children, in-laws, friends and grandkids.  The situations are darkly humorous and sometimes bring tears to my eyes.

Desert time for Monsieur and me is reading time. I have finished most of the books that I bought at Bookman's and my favourite was The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. The protagonist, Tony, a character in his middle 60's recounts his life in two parts. After reading Part One, which outlined Tony's student days, his first relationship and his marriage and divorce, I wondered what the second part could be about. "It had all been said" but an unlikely inheritance and a revisitation in Part Two caused me to wonder if "Tony ever got it" or indeed if any of us really understand the events of our lives.

"History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation" is a quotation  that is one of the major themes this short novel. I'll keep thinking about that one!

I have been thinking a lot during my desert time and a lot of my thoughts deal with ageing and finding meaning at the later stages of life. This morning, I especially enjoyed The Hostess's blog about role models and ageing. In looking at our own lives and those of others, real and fictional, (maybe there is only fictional), hopefully we can live our later years with intelligence and self-awareness.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Desert Time

Each morning, I like to wake early.
Desert time is one of my favourite times. It's the time Monsieur and I spend on holiday together. We rent a little house (casita) and enjoy the bright, sunny skies. Our apartment at home is just a little larger than the casita but it is east-facing so it is very dark in the winter. I wake much earlier than Monsieur so I make coffee and read.
Yesterday, we visited Bookman's, one of my favourite places in Tucson.
My sister-in-law is visiting us for a few days so we have plenty of chatter. Monsieur isn't big on that so it's kind of fun to have a visitor. After breakfast, brother and sister take a hike and I have some quiet time. I'm a great fan of quiet time too! I like to putter about, read or take little walks about the grounds.
I found a signed Tony Hillerman mystery in the casita. I only read him in Arizona.
In the afternoon, we take a drive to visit different places of interest, Tubac, the oldest European settlement in Arizona is one of our favourite places to visit.
I love the history of this area!
Since my sister-in-law is here, I get to shop a little but I am downsizing wardrobe so it really is a little.
My basic blue/grey wardrobe is working.

very small purchases
We will be staying here for another week and this year we are flying home. For this reason, I will eliminate travel clothing that has not worked for the cruise or for the desert. There is no point flying home with it and hopefully someone else will appreciate it.
I couldn't resist this gift cookbook.
My friend, Janet, who often visits me in Paris collects cookbooks. I really had to buy this one!

Control of

People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around.

 Barbara Kingsolver 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Back to the Desert

Monday, I disembarked in Fort Lauderdale and now I am just outside Tucson spending holiday time with Monsieur. Since the cruise, I have been waking even earlier than usual so I am able to watch the sunrise on the desert. The sky has been such a brilliant blue each day and the bougainvillaea is blooming by our patio. A hummingbird whizzes past my ear as I read.
the reading spot
As I get older, I resist the urge to bring a suitcase of books on holiday. Airline weight restrictions and the availability of both paper and online literature make the bag of books an unnecessary burden.
an airport purchase
However, I had a wait of 8 hours in Fort Lauderdale airport. I purchased Under the Wide and Starry Sky
by Nancy Horan. It is a novel based on the relationship of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny.
Although Fanny and RLS are passionate about each other, Fanny's insecurities, Louis' ill-health and the continuing struggle to live within their means cause the couple to constantly seek new lands and new beginnings. While RLS is healthiest at sea, Fanny is desperately ill. Louis is belongs to a group of "creatives" while Fanny's aspirations as an artist and as a writer are always undermined by her role as her husband's caregiver.  

Monsieur and I have marvelled at the presence of RLS throughout our travels in California and in the Marquesas Islands. This year, in Scotland, I visited one of the lighthouses designed by his father.
view from my reading spot
I will be leaving Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny in Tucson. In our casita, which is owned by a very nice lady called Ellen, there are many books and CD's. I rent a few "homes away from home" in a year and I am always amazed at the treasures that I find.
How appropriate!
After finishing RLS and Fanny, I started on Barbara Kingsolver's High Tide in Tucson. Barbara Kingsolver left Kentucky to live in the desert near Tucson. Her essays combine her scientific background as a biologist with her personal experiences. Certainly, I am a lot like Buster, the stowaway crab. My habits and routines are carried with me from place to place. Time zones change, temperatures change but I am always me!

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I'm living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.” Barbara Kingsolver

This bush is full of butterflies.
The sun is streaming into the casita and Monsieur's sister is coming to visit for a few days. I'd better put on the coffee and roust Monsieur from the bed.

Keep hoping!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Caribbean Blues

blue through the stateroom window
I've been away from Canada for about 4 weeks and have been experiencing a lot of blue(s). My last year's cruising companion won another cruise!!! She invited me to accompany her as it was for two people. Since we were paying for airfare (points), we decided to extend the cruise to visit Martinique and the Netherland Antilles.
Saint Lucia
The islands that we visited were colourful and every day the temperatures reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Rain only fell during my sleeping hours. Whenever I spoke to Maman or Monsieur, it seemed to be cold or raining at home.
I met the captain and received a medal.
Although I appreciate the beauty of these islands, there is a sadness that I feel. Probably because I am a First World woman who thinks too much. The indigenous people (Arawaks and Caribs) died out after a few years of European contact. Slaves were brought from Africa to work the plantations under conditions of heat and humidity that would have been difficult to endure.  Most agriculture on the islands is no longer economically feasible. Today's inhabitants (except for the very rich) are descendants of those slaves. Most are employed in the tourist industry which caters to wealthy Americans and Europeans. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

a home in Bonair
Fortunately, in the Dutch islands, there is a social safety net and there are no homeless people. This is a typical house in the countryside. Smaller state provided rentals are available and the payments can be applied to ownership.

I loved the colours of Curaçao.
The city of Curaçao was very European with waterways, a swing bridge and colourful buildings. As in many European cities, the shops were closed on Sunday.
I visited some old friends in the library in Fort-de-France. Can you read their names?
I felt at home when I reached Martinique which is a department of France, not a colony. I bought some Caudalie toner, visited the library, church and Galéries Lafayette. I was happy to stroll about and to speak French.
Hôtel de Ville
My version of cruise ship life is quite different from that of many other people. I am an early riser who values solitude. You can find me on a chaise longue at 6:30 am with my fresh fruit and yogurt. I leave to read in the ship's library at about 9:30am when the poolside starts to be crowded. I don't travel with my own books and always enjoy reading the nonfiction onboard ship. At home, I am a fiction reader but on ships, I like to learn about history and culture.

There are many food choices onboard cruise ships but I tried to eat fresh fruits and salads during the day so that I could enjoy a dining room meal in the evening. Although my friend didn't come to the dining room, I mustered up the courage to go alone. To my good fortune, I met 3 ladies from Québec whose travelling companion was ill and I found dining friends with whom I could speak French. Quelle chance!
end of day on St. Lucia

There is a part of me that is uncomfortable with cruising. I need a lot of quiet and personal space and I would prefer to spend longer in a port so that I could understand the culture a little better. But there are so many places and so little time, I guess that sometimes I just have to be a tourist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Almost a Year of Grey

Since I was 12, I have been interested in fashion. I picked berries and baby-sat in order to choose and pay for my own clothes. I always loved reading the teen magazines and my cousin and I even attended Teen Charm School at a local department store.

I didn't have a lot of clothes but I rotated outfits and chose pieces that could be combined with others
to create a new look. Sometimes I chose fabric and my aunt or grandmother sewed for me. That was the sixties and as a teen, I worked within my means to create a look that suited my life.

In the decades that have passed, cheap available goods, credit and more disposable income has lead to excess. I have been "weeding" my closet for the last few months and I have learned which items are useful and are worn often and which items are seldom worn. I have chosen my neutral colours:grey and navy to suit my newly grey hair. It's almost a year without hair colour!
My grandma had nice grey hair.
In the 1980's, I had very dark (natural) hair with blue/green eyes and fair skin. Vivid colours with cool undertones were definitely my preferred palette. Nary an earth tone or a warm hue. Some time passed and my hair (now greying) became reddish. Rust, orange, khaki and brown were my warm go-to colours. I have gradually been eliminating bright colours and warm colours from my wardrobe.
Print has been a passion of mine for the last ten years. I've put on weight and it seems that larger (14-16) sized clothing seems to include a lot of pattern. As I age and (hopefully) shrink a little, my tastes have moved to the more subtle.

I have been greatly influenced by Janice Riggs' The Vivienne File blog and I am working on a basic wardrobe that can be dressed up or down with accessories of colour and pattern. The common core pieces (mostly grey) are my daily uniform right now. I am learning to restrain my buying which means "don't go to shops to pass the time or to visit with shopkeeper friends." There are a few things that I need: grey boots (low) and a grey bag but I am not going to be using them in the next few travel months so I don't need to buy them right now.
In 2013, I loved rust, orange and gold. There was no grey.

Grey is a life choice. I no longer have to spend 2 hours at the hair salon.

Grey can be dressy with lace and sparkly silver shoes.

A year ago, I had no idea about grey. I just wondered what it would be like to let my hair revert to its natural state. It is quite liberating to have little hair care time or expense. Now that I am retired, it seems comfortable to embrace my ageing self and to make simplicity a way of life.

Grey can go for a walk under October skies.

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Harvest

Westham Island Herb Farm
I love vegetables! All vegetables! So it seems reasonable that October is one of my favourite months.
Yesterday, Maman and I crossed the wooden lift bridge to visit Westham Island, a farming community about 20 minutes away. It takes such a short time to transport us from our busy suburban community to a rural one.
I love the golds, rusts and oranges of October.

One of our favourite places to visit is the Westham Island Herb Farm, a family owned farm that sells an assortment of vegetables, fruits, preserves, gourds, aprons and even bales of straw for those who wish to decorate. There are scarecrows, a haunted house and animals to visit. All within a short drive from home.
a wagonload of squash
I have been attending Weight Watchers for a few months and I am really enjoying the Simple Start programme. I enjoy preparing vegetables and I find making soup strangely therapeutic. A couple of years ago, I bought a Staub La Cocotte pot to replace my 30+ years old Le Creuset. I love the rich red colour of the pot. I rinsed and soaked lentils, chopped and simmered vegetables and seasoned with NoMu masala.
Terracotta, red and sunflowers are October.
I do miss autumn stories:Stone Soup, The Enormous Turnip…I started my writing course on Tuesday evening. I am working on a children's picture book based on the wartime evacuation of the Japanese from my local fishing village. The fishermen's houses and the boat works are now part of a museum.
Once this was a thriving fishing centre.
The houses and the gardens of the Japanese have been restored and I especially enjoy seeing Mrs. Murakami's garden. It is sometimes part of my walk.
Mrs. Murakami's garden. Mrs. Murakami may have been the last "picture bride."
October is a month to be grateful for the harvest and for the sunshine of early fall. It's a time for snuggly sweaters and corduroy pants. I like to light a scented candle as we don't have a fireplace and read my book. Right now, I'm reading Arthur and George by Julian Barnes. It is a book club selection and Monsieur is enjoying it more than I am. Mixed gender book clubs are tricky as men and women seem to have quite different reading tastes. That's a generalization but it is based on 30 years of library employment.
an October friend

Later today, I will be celebrating at a paycheque party as my teacher friends are happy to be back to work. October may also be the month to switch from Pinot Grigio to Malbec or Autumn Ale…So many decisions.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cleaning the Cupboards

Monsieur and I live in an apartment of just over 900 square feet. When we decided to live together 19 years ago, storage was very important to us. Monsieur had lived alone in a 3 bedroom townhouse with carport and my daughter and I had lived in a small townhouse. Since that time, I have acquired many clothes and  much stuff.

Each year since my retirement, I have rented  much smaller apartments in Paris and I have found the space to be adequate for myself and an assortment of visiting friends. All of my rental apartments have  included a bookcase of left or resident books, some CD's, some basic kitchen supplies and linens. With my single suitcase, I have been able to live for five months very comfortably. A few household items from Monoprix and fresh flowers served to personalize my living space. What I buy in Paris (household items) stays in Paris so the next guests benefit from my nesting instincts.
autumn nesting at home

At home, I have been cleaning cupboards as Monsieur and I do REALLY have storage but it is not well utilized. As winter is approaching, I have been dealing with clothing and household linens.  I will be travelling to warmer places in November and December (Caribbean cruise and then another Tucson casita with Monsieur), so I can't really retire my lighter clothing but I am developing an all-season wardrobe. I am reminded that one of the bloggers that I used to follow Four Seasons One Wardrobe has just returned  this week from a lengthy break. After giving birth to her first child, she has returned to blogger world. If you are looking to create a multi-purpose wardrobe, this might be a blog to consider.

I am still working with Janice Riggs' ( of The Vivienne Files)  planning sheets and I can readily select what is essential and what is not. Three pairs of grey jeans! How did that happen? Purchased last year before Paris trip. Two would have been enough. One goes to thrift. Black/grey/white long sleeve t-shirt can be worn with skirt, jeans and capris and can be washed out and dried anywhere…it's a keeper. My travel wardrobe for the next few years is taking shape.
It's getting there but there are still too many items.
The last days of summer are too precious to waste inside.

The linen closet seems to be filled with photo albums??? Do I need 3 quilts and a bedcover? We only have 1 bed! I bought some of those compression bags to store the extras but summer and winter quilts should be adequate. The extra could be washed and donated as cold weather is approaching. This kind of sorting can be quite intense so I always set a time limit. Later I'll be walking some books over to the community library. It's in our recreational complex so I could even reread my own books if I wished.

Living in an apartment is very different from living in a detached house. We have no garage, attic or basement in which to store our excess belongings. As we get older, our needs are becoming fewer and perhaps we need to reconsider some of the memorabilia that is taking up vital space.

How do you deal with storage? Have you ever paid an organizer? For me, I just have to persevere and not get sidetracked or sentimental.

I even have my daughter and my own Brownie uniforms.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hushing the Inner Critic and Random Thoughts

A few weeks ago, I went to hear Canadian mystery writer, Louise Penny speak. In my years in libraries, author visits were always a highlight. Like many accomplished speakers, Ms. Penny spoke in general terms about her works and at greater length about her personal involvement in the writing process. After leaving her employment with the CBC, Canada's national radio network, she began to write "her novel." After abandoning a historical novel, she started a mystery but found that she couldn't write. It was not until she was advised to "silence her inner critic" was she able to complete her mystery and to go on to write a series of ten mysteries, the latest of which The Long Way Home is at the top of the New York Times best-seller list.

How often I find myself feeling unsure! Uncertainty is a fact of life but it is so important that we don't let it hold us back. Last night, I was at a group meeting where the question was asked, "What is one new activity that you have tried or experience that you have had in the last few months?" The responses were varied but, as a group of older adults, we all acknowledged how important it is to continue to add new experiences to our lives.

I used to have a book called Fear the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Jeffers maintained that failure is a pathway to growth. Obviously, nothing can be achieved without a little risk. While intellectually I may know this, I still feel anxiety on a regular basis. Judging myself and finding myself not quite "meeting expectations"

Life is change! Retirement is probably one of life's biggest adventures. Whatever our financial circumstances are, we all have to face the challenge of how to spend our days when we are no longer employed. Some people find that relationships become more difficult the more hours that are spent together. When I bought our two wicker chairs, I thought that Monsieur and I would sit reading and gazing off into the sunset together. Monsieur, who would rather use the area as a rehearsal area, maintains that the chairs are too big and anyway, the balcony faces east.

Making changes, losing weight, starting new activities, meeting new people, travel….even  good things can cause anxiety.

"What if you fail?" that nasty critic voice asks. There are so many little niggling doubts. Yesterday at Weight Watchers, the meeting's topic was "Restart." When something doesn't work, you simply put it behind you and start again.  Impatience and negative self-talk are a pointless waste of time.

Going grey has been a major change this year.

One thing that I still struggle with is blog photography. My apartment does not have great light and I seem to have to resort to the Photobooth selfie from time to time. I find it hard to click and smile at the same time.
I am thinking about Scotland and what will be decided.
My travels this year have taken me many places and I have so many pictures. Looking back on my visit to Britain, I wonder what the future or tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Holiday Plans

Before I retired, I made a 5-year plan for the years between ages 60 and 65. I was at home with my daughter and was a student during my twenties and worked part-time as a Library Assistant for the first half of my thirties. Consequently, my pension, although generous by most standards, is not what it might have been.

Travel and the experience of other cultures and languages are my priorities. We quickly learned that Monsieur does not have an aptitude for languages or a particular interest in history or culture. He took up golf a few years ago but has since abandoned the sport. Right now, we plan a warm weather holiday together and I set out on my adventures solo or with a woman friend.

 I have now been retired for three years and I have found that I really miss teaching. Each week, I plan a reading and discussion topic for M., my French conversation student, and I am so gratified that she is feel much more confident speaking French. She volunteers at our International Airport and tries to find opportunities to speak with francophone travellers. In a short time, however, M. will be leaving to volunteer in an orphanage in Bangladesh.

As my funds will be more limited next year, I am planning to revisit The Oaxaca Learning Center. I enjoy the culture and the language of Mexico. Oaxaca is not a resort city so accommodation is relatively inexpensive and food is cheap. I plan to volunteer with Niños Adelante, an outreach programme of the Oaxaca Lending Library. When I am in Oaxaca, I buy a temporary membership to the OLL. I borrow many books and I have participated in their intercambios (free language exchanges).

vendor in Oaxaca

I very much enjoy the reading, teaching and learning part of my life so any opportunity to meet other scholars and to learn/teach in a different country is a welcome one.
The Mexican muralists tell a story of a rich culture.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Books and Films

I always like to wear a hat when I read in the sunshine
I have been reading quite a lot lately since we started a neighbourhood book club. It is interesting to choose a book that can be read by a variety of people of different age, gender and educational background. Our local library provides an extensive selection of book club titles (ten copies in a tote bin) free to borrow for six weeks.

We have just finished The Best Laid Plans,  a humorous look at the Canadian political system. The author, Terry Fallis, will be presenting at the Vancouver Writers' Festival in October 2014. The novel has been produced as a CBC television series and is going to be produced locally as a musical. I had never heard of the novel until I was perusing the list of book sets at the library. A book club is a great opportunity to read books with which we may not be familiar.

Another Canadian author that I am enjoying right now is the mystery writer, Louise Penny. I had read some of her more recent mysteries but right now I am reading A Fatal Grace which was written in 2006
and was the first of three consecutive Agatha awards won by this author. I will be going to hear Louise Penny speak in September.

A few months ago, I read The Hundred Foot Journey by Rick Morais. I really enjoyed this light read and was delighted to hear that a movie was being made. There are so very few films that I can enjoy as I really dislike swearing, violence and special effects. Although the movie received negative reviews, the theatre was packed with the  55+ group. There are many of us who do not enjoy loud noise and violence.  This was a "feel good" movie with romance, food and a picturesque French village. What's not to like?

on the way to Santiago

Speaking of films and journeys….Yesterday, I went to see Walking the Camino:Six Ways to Santiago. I had seen the movie The Way  in 2012 before I had actually experienced the Camino but this documentary by Lydia Gray seemed to capture the feeling that my friend and I experienced as we walked.

the pilgrims
I just got dressed for the annual church picnic and yippee!!! My Bermuda shorts are 2 sizes too big. I haven't worn them since last year. WW is working! I'm wearing my new sunhat as this has been a very bright, sunny summer and my belief is that a hat is your best skin care product!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back Again!

I have taken a little break from blogging to work on a few of the issues in my daily life and I am back with renewed enthusiasm. Like Materfamilias, I sometimes question why I write, who I am writing for and how often I have something to share. When I am planning a trip or travelling, writing is part of my daily routine but when I am chez moi, the days take on a sameness broken up with a success or a sorrow that passes like a summer breeze.

While I take hiatus from writing, I still read my favourite blogs daily. In the last few weeks, I have been putting my "blog education" to work. I am still such a "schoolmarm" that I view life as opportunities for learning and for self-improvement.

Since last I wrote, I have started to walk/run 3 times a week (inspired by Mater) and I have lost 8 pounds at Weight Watchers (inspired by The Hostess). I have always (since I had my first berry-picking job and could choose my own clothes) been fascinated by wardrobe planning and fashion. Choosing just the right outfit, for me, is an act of creation. I am presenting the ME that I want to be to the world.
For this reason, I am a devotee of The Vivienne Files, an amazing blog written and curated by Janice Riggs.
Starting from Scratch
I have purchased both Janice's planning worksheet and her colour combinations and I have found myself seeing so many more possibilities in my newly culled drawers and closets. When first I began the Starting from Scratch process, I thought that I would be limited to 2 neutrals and 2 accent colours and that I would require an entire new wardrobe. NOT AT ALL TRUE!
I already had received this scarf a few years ago.
Janice Riggs often starts with a scarf and works to develop an outfit so I thought that I would try the same strategy. Imitation is a great form of flattery. My neutral colours are navy and grey but I have a lot of taupe and brown in my wardrobe. I find that the light often plays tricks with taupe and grey.
I can wear my Paris leather jacket.

This spring, when I was in Paris, I bought a red leather jacket at Couleurs Paris on Rue de Rivoli. Couleurs is a boutiques for "les rondes" (curvy ladies) and I found that many of the pieces of clothing suited more petite curvy ladies. "Les grandes tailles" that I found in some other shops were much too large for me. I can link my jacket with the bits of red detail on the scarf and as my red is cool, it goes very nicely with the blues of the scarf. I just finished reading The Paris Architect  by Charles Belfoure and put the book in the picture for fun. If you enjoyed Tatiana de Rosnay's Paris books, you will enjoy this quick read.

I really like this skirt  by a Vancouver company, Monarchy Clothing, which produces small amounts of clothing that is locally designed and manufactured. Their clothing ranges from size 2 to size 3x and is well-constructed and has interesting details. My skirt is a little loose so I will need to have it taken in a bit. I already owned the shoes and sweater which are looking a wee bit brownish but are really a grey/taupe. I'm not quite sure about the sweater but at slightly less than 5'4", I probably would look less "chopped up" with two solid coloured pieces under my jacket.

As for further accessories, I'm not sure. I don't have a grey or navy bag but perhaps taupe would be multipurpose. I'd probably wear a pair of pewter earrings and I have a favourite cuff/ bracelet that I bought in Monterey at Cannery Row. The colours of the scarf are definitely reflected in my bracelet and in the aqua of my nails right now!
one of my favourite pieces
It's a coincidence!
My mother, who definitely does not consider wardrobe planning an art form, would consider this post somewhat frivolous. Yes, I do think about world peace and the killing of hostages  and our current provincial education crisis and…..but no matter what, I still love Paris, scarves and wardrobe planning.
Bon week-end!