Wednesday, November 30, 2022


 Our writing word this time is "shoes." It's my word, in the sense that I gave it as the idea for the next writing exercise. Well, I love shoes. I am a "shoe person." I can remember most of the shoes I have worn since grade school. I remember saddle shoes and white bucks. I also remember polishing those shoes with a white chalky solution, when the white wasn't white anymore. I pine for my patent leather dress shoes, even though they pinched and I can't forget some scrawny running shoes that fell apart at the seams.

In high school, I wore black oxfords. They were part of my school uniform, however, I changed into more fashionable black "gumdrops" or "desert boots" to ride the buses home. On the weekends we went to dances and I had "dancing" shoes. These shoes always had a heel. I had one pair of green suede shoes with a small hour glass heel, which I loved. I also had a pair of brown leather T-strap shoes with a slightly higher heel to go with a brown corduroy suit I had made.

I remember going to shoe sales after Christmas and buying three or four pairs of shoes at a time. I loved a classic pump with saddle stitching or a shoe with a front that laced up like a boot. When I started teaching, I decided to buy a sensible pair of "Clark's" shoes with a sturdy heel for all the standing I would be doing in the classroom. These shoes for all their expense and their trusted name, squeaked. When I presided over examinations, I was the pariah.

Ironically, the pair of shoes that I have worn the longest were actually given to me. My neighbour came by one day with a large, black garbage bag full of shoes. A friend of hers was decluttering and decided to throw out a centipede's worth of shoes. Here was a shoe person too, but not of my standards. Her shoes weren't leather. They were bought in a department store, not a dedicated shoe store and many had extraneous buckles or other ornamentations to "fancy" them up. However, they were bought in multiple colours - brown, black, red... I wore the red ones on the days I needed to wear ruby slippers.

I kept what I thought I would use and gave the rest to charity. In spite of their inferior quality, I wore one black pair of shoes for twenty years. I had them resoled twice before I finally decided I couldn't wear a heel anymore.

Somewhere, though, in the midst of all this fashionable "footing" is a heart ache. In fact, two heart aches and both were in Spain. Years ago when I was hitch hiking through Europe, I was in Madrid and had decided to buy a pair of shoes in Spanish leather, after the folk song - "Boots (or shoes) of Spanish Leather." I took ages to decide. I had to spend my money wisely, as I didn't have much. Finally, I chose a pair of white Mary Jane's with a low heel. I wore them with white stockings and a black and white dress to two weddings that summer. Sadly, I don't know what happened to them. But I remember the angst of buying them. I remember how the song played out in my head and I remember how timeless I felt every time I wore them. I was part myth, part music, not really of this earth. These were shoes from another world.

My second story of shoes in Spanish leather happened fairly recently, about seven years ago. I was in Seville and I decided to buy another pair of shoes. I was fascinated by the shoes worn by the flamenco dancers. Many were tied with ribbons. (I forgot to mention that I did have a black pair of patent leather shoes which I had bought in London years ago that were tied with ribbons.)

Finally, after looking in every shoe store in Seville, I found a black pair that were tied with some awkward patent leather laces. I decided that I would replace the laces with ribbon. I brought them home. Unfortunately, I never made time to go to a fabric store and buy ribbons for what is probably my last pair of dancing shoes and since I have now lost my dancing partner, I may never wear them. A little sad like the song of lost love, I mentioned earlier. In the restless to-ing and fro-ing of life, we often forget what is most important.

Have a memorable day.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Fridays are special...

I have always loved Fridays. When I was teaching, it was the end of the week of a commitment to a job that gave you enough money to enjoy a few days off at the end of that week. Friday was the beginning of the weekend - time off to catch up. Yes, there was cleaning and shopping and a host of other chores to do, but there were still a few hours left to call your own.

OK, these days, although I still work full time, I work irregular hours. Send me an e-mail at 9:00pm on a Saturday night about an order that you need for a class on Thursday morning in Nova Scotia and I will go into my office on Sunday, sort out what is needed, prepare the order for shipping and send it "super" priority to arrive at your rural route on Wednesday!! I love my job!!

But I digress, I was talking about Fridays...or maybe I was talking about this particular Friday. Today was Friday, November 11. It's a day I never forget. On Thursday, November 10, my daughter asked me if I would like to go to a Remembrance Day service. I was somewhat lost for words.

Although my father served with the RCAF, as a radar technician during the second world war, my family never really "celebrated" Remembrance Day. My father hated uniforms, formality, protocol and so we were spared the bitterly cold hour or two it took to stand at a war memorial on Remembrance Day.

Now, here was my daughter, who was adopted from a country that was never involved in any of the world wars, asking me to attend a service I have never attended in the past. God works in mysterious ways. Of course, this was something I had to do. If you want the next generation to remember, you have to not only show interest, you have to also show up!

She picked the service at Fort York. We left at 9:30 for a 10:30 start. My son drove. I'll spare you the problems with the GPS. I would have got us there 20 minutes earlier, but the next generation does not read maps nor do they listen to an aging navigator.

Fortunately, there was time to spare, the rain held off and the "poppy" watching was a diversion while we waited for the ceremonies to begin. The service was tasteful, meaningful and fully attended. I am a better person for the effort I made, driven only by my daughter, who attended every Remembrance Day service for the three years she was at university in Halifax, where the entire city turns out!

This Friday was also special in that we were celebrating my daughter's birthday. Yes, a little early, but it was her day off. So after the Remembrance Day service, I rushed to Metro to pick up ingredients for Spring Rolls that my son was making as an appetizer before our ordered in meal of Thai dishes. Then a quick hop to Jules for some delectable French pastries as dessert.

It was a very special Friday, even though most Friday's are special in themselves for a host of reasons, this one took the cake!!

Have a special day!

Friday, November 04, 2022

How sweet is this...

 ....I have finally finished the memory quilts (more like accent throws) for the twin beds in the "large" room - everything is relative. I am now working on a quilt for my daughter's room. The needlework keeps me busy; I don't have to watch the assault to everyone's intelligence on Netflix et al...and I get to have moments of pure joy!.

For my daughter's quilt, I'm using her girl guide badges as a "jumping off" point. However, I am taking liberties - my middle name - as I interpret the badges. For example, she has one hostess badge - a teacup. I have created 3 squares dedicated to teacups - well, I used to collect them.

I also turned the baker's badge which depicted an orange loaf of bread - really! - into a cupcake. When was the last time you had a slice of orange bread and wished it had been a cupcake?

Last night I worked on her sport's badge. Sports, especially swimming, is what my daughter does full time, as a program coordinator at the Y. The girl guide badge showed crossed tennis rackets. Yes, she plays tennis, but her recreational sport of choice is baseball. This is the sport she played regularly and discussed endlessly, with her father.

Here is the finished patch. The moment of pure joy happened when I needed a "baseball." I ran through my inventory of beads - nothing was large enough. I went on to buttons. Compared to fabric and yarn, I have a very modest supply of buttons. However, I did have a button from a blouse I bought years ago (maybe 50) that had supplied 2 covered buttons in case you needed them. Well, last night, Nov 3, 2022, I needed one of those buttons. Because they were covered in fabric, I was able to make a red running stitch along both sides of the button to emulate the stitching on a baseball. There is a reason for all of this madness, this hoarding of stuff!! It is finally to apply 6 or 8 running stitches to a button, to create a baseball and a eureka moment!

My only regret is that I didn't use a piece of blue silk from my husband's tie to make the baseball bat. Well, joy is not necessarily perfection.

I'll leave you to figure out the significance of the numbers.

Have a perfect day!

Thursday, November 03, 2022

My Stuff....

 ...... My writing partner has given the next challenge - "My Stuff." It couldn't come at a better time. The change of seasons always makes me re-examine "my stuff." This would be the bits and bobs, flotsam and jetsam of a life spent grappling with the creative process.

I know creativity takes many routes, all with their own specific equipment. Yes, I have paint brushes for oils and now paint brushes for water colour and since I don't use acrylic, I am spared the space for those brushes as well. Who knew there could be so many varied bits of camel hair affixed to a piece of wood?

But, these creative sticks and their respective tubes of colour are not really "my" stuff. Nor is the calligraphy ink, the pens, the writing paper etc...etc... When I die, just bury me in a corner of Deserres. 

I merely dabble in drawing and painting. However, I drown in fabric and yarn! Last year, I had to clear out a corner of the basement. I reorganized "my stuff" into 16 cloth bins in both the living room and dining room. This "stuff" would be the works in progress, as well as, their raw materials. I had already stored most of my finished work in various drawers upstairs and of course there are the closets.

It was then that I realized my creativity is not only varied, it is also cyclical. For the most part I write. I make notes in journals, I write this weblog, I write letters to friends...enemies and I have written a novel, which will begin it's second draft soon.

When I get tired of writing, I knit (or crochet.) I still move my hands, but my mind can rest on the return rows or in the successive loops of a double crochet. I'm not sure where I got the gene for writing, but I know I inherited the ability to knit and dance from my mother's biological mother (my mother was adopted). These are not necessarily related talents, however, they are both very rhythmical activities. Fortunately, a few CDs will provide me with enough music to satisfy my urge to dance. However, I need yarn to knit and crochet. This is where the "stuff" accumulates. I have stashes of yarn. I ran a yarn business for 25 years. I have discarded more hand knit sweaters (for various reasons) than I have in my finished collection and I have enough balls and skeins of yarn to knit them all over again. Yarn could be the "stuff" that not only fills up my physical space, but also clogs my mental capacities. It toys with my sanity and keeps me from seeing the reality of life - more yarn does not equal more money for basic needs. I have to force myself to remember - you can't eat merino unless it's roasted

However, before I was a yarn junkie, I was a fabric junkie, as was my mother. OK, she did knit and crochet, but her real obsession was sewing. She sewed all my clothes until I was old enough to sew for myself. From then on, I sewed almost everything I wore until I was 30, when I finally had the money to buy ready-made clothes in a real clothing store. This fact, however, did not stop me from buying fabric. I made gifts for friends, sewed for my children and ultimately bought more fabric than I had the ideas (or sense) for.

As a result, over the years, I have probably given away more fabric than yarn. I realize, though, that this clearing out of "stuff" doesn't solve the problem of "too much stuff." It simply creates a vacuum, which needs to be filled, with newer "stuff." And, of course, I never throw out everything. I still have, in my stash, a length of red plaid silk, which my mother's friend, Anne, had sent to her from Thailand, when Anne and her husband were stationed there during the war. Now, I must find something to do with it, as it will never be appreciated by the next generation. The bolt stops here!

I don't sew clothes as much anymore. I tend to use my fabric stash for embroidered projects. I have in one of those cloth bins, I mentioned earlier, 24 boxes of my mother's embroidery floss. I am making a valiant effort to use it up!! In fact, I have just started my third memory quilt. It's an accent throw for my daughter's Queen-sized bed, based on her Girl Guide badges. Below is her hostess badge and my quilt interpretation.

She is an achiever and her awards are many - this may take a while. Alas, here I am working with other people's "stuff," as well as my own. There is no end to the madness. The collecting for and the execution of the creative process is rarely balanced. There is always a lot more of the collecting than there is of the executed product. That being said, I have lost count of the number of lace patterns I have on Ravelry and of course I have bins (note the plural) of scarves and shawls that I can't throw out.

What I rarely collect are kitchen gadgets, even though I love to cook. But I did buy a freezer this year - to collect food, I suppose. I guess we can deceive ourselves. 

I can, however, dispense with an awkward plant and I've have stopped rooting cuttings from the house plants I have. Oh ya, I forget to mention gardening. I have dozens of plants both indoor and outdoor. Fortunately, I can leave the culling of that "stuff" to nature.

Maybe this is why I write. I have to clear a path through all this physical debris to get some sort of form and order in my mind. Writing is about structure, channeling our emotions, our thoughts our wildest dreams into precise words and clear sentences. Something tells me though I can't do this all the time. Every once in a while I have to do this...

...or this.

...with "my stuff."

Have  a creative day!