Brace yourselves, my darlings. It’s that time of year, again.
It’s swimsuit season.
I say “brace yourselves” because we women seem to do a mighty fine job of beating ourselves up when it comes to what we’re wearing in the pool or at the beach.
It’s just a pool, people.
Ditto for the beach.
No cause for that sheen of sweat and feeling of desperation in the pit of our stomachs, now is there?
Especially when we could wear this vintage beauty:
My kindred spirit friend Anne-Girl sent it to me a while ago.
It came through the real-for-true, old-fashioned mail, the way all vintage things should.
I have to admit, I was slightly taken aback when I opened the package and found a blue, crocheted bathing suit — sized about four decades too small for me–to boot.
But maybe some of you get bathing suits through the mail all the time, because you buy your swimsuits online.
What, what, what?
I can’t fathom it. You see, I’ve always gone for the tried-and-true way of buying a bathing suit: the festival that is the fluorescent-lit mall or big box or even boutique store change room. I am accustomed to the usual view of acres of me, unflatteringly lit with row upon row of fluorescents as I attempt to corral bits in with only the thin sheen of some kind of high-tech fabric.
Not high-tech enough, however, to hold up that which needs holding.
Or squeeze in that which needs squeezing.
Oh sure, we can send people to the International Space Station in suits that let them breathe in zero atmosphere but we can’t manage to conjure up a single swimsuit that will hold bits or squeeze bits the way I’d love them to.
I think I miss corsets.
Or what about these pantaloon bathing costumes – weren’t those great? Let’s ask some Hollywood/Fashion Week style dictator to bring those back. please oh pretty please. I think I could love a bathing suit that covered me from ankles to earlobes.
I sunburn easily and am always cold.
Anne-girl’s mother obviously loved this blue beauty because she wore it and loved it enough to emigrate to Canada with it, save it for half a century and pass it down to her daughter, who–knowing a wacky vintage-loving woman across the province–passed it down to me.
I love it. I love the buckles, I love the crochet, I love how the bottoms come up All The Way to the belly button (or higher).
On someone four decades smaller than I, of course.
Yep, love this bathing suit.
Being a woman brought up in the times when we were taught to constantly criticize our bodies, it has occurred to me that I can’t say “I love it” very often about a bathing suit in my possession. In fact, the last bathing suit I loved was at the age of four. I inherited a “bikini” from a more sophisticated five year-old friend and gleefully pranced about in it all summer, belly un-corraled.
My belly hasn’t been un-corraled in quite some time. On account of, I don’t have any core strength, as evidenced by the fact that I recently started doing core exercises (again) and didn’t notice their effect in the slightest during my regular waking hours until I went to bed and Practical Man informed me in the morning that I had groaned each and every time I rolled over in the night.
It turns out, I roll over a lot. And, apparently, if you exercise your core, it hurts to roll over. But, then, hopefully, after a few months of midnight groaning, your rolly bits don’t roll over your waist band quite as much as they used to.
At least, they better not.
Well, unless you count the times while I’m in the change room, trying to corral all the bits of my (apparently un-used) core, hold up that which needs holding and squeeze in that which needs squeezing, with only thin pieces of man-made fabric at my disposal.
Which, I don’t.
Anyway, run away from the fluorescent humiliation that is the bathing suit change room.
Run away, I say!
And, stop skulking behind that beach towel.
Wear your suit proudly because you’re already a bathing beauty.
Just like this one.
There was a message on our voicemail the other day.
“Good morning,” said a little voice.
Then, “How are you?”
It was a very polite little voice.
It’s strawberry season in south-eastern Ontario and my fairy godson, age 2 and 3/4, was calling to invite me out for the picking.
Or, as he knows it: the eating.
I like strawberry picking, except for the bending and standing up (which makes me feel faint-ish) and the turning-my-head and picking (which makes me feel spinny-ish) and of course, there is The Nature to contend with.
But, how could I resist an invitation from someone who calls me “Auntie Kiss”?
Oh sure, my name is “Chris” and you might think this is his 2 and 3/4 year-old way of pronouncing my name, but even when he’s 14 and possibly slightly stinky and drama-tudinal, I like to think this will be my fairy godmother name forever.
(As in: one who gives kisses and loves to receive them.)
Is there a better name for a fairy godmother than that? I think not.
So, after the lovely invitation, I met Fairy Godson, his Kitemama and baby Fairy Godsister at the patch.
It was soggy and muddy from all the recent rain, so we wore our rubber boots (one of us had new and very exciting firefighter rubber boots!) and squelched around in the mud in the parking lot.
Squelch, squelch, squelch.
You know how The Nature can get sometimes. Verrrrry squelchy.
Then, we waited for the tractor to come and pick us up to take us out to the part of the patch we were picking.
It was a “big, DEEN TAK-TOR with a bucket!” and someone wearing new firefighter rubber boots was pretty excited. We hopped on the wagon with our empty baskets and the giant, DEEN TAK-TOR tires squelched around the muddy trail to our patch of the strawberry fields.
Squelch, squelch, squelch.
Then, we squatted in the field and searched for bright, red pockets of sunshine to put in our baskets.
Fairy Godson had two baskets because he knew to look for the “really red ones”. He also knew how to deftly remove the stems, fling them into the plants, and pop the “really red ones” in his mouth.
Squelch, squelch, squelch.
As you do.
Kitemama and I got going with the bending and standing up (which makes me feel faint-ish) and the turning-our-heads and picking (which makes me feel spinny-ish) and of course, The Nature had made everything sort of soggy but I was having a great time picking berries and squelching in the mud.
Fairy Godson guarded the berries for me, polite child that he is and soon, the DEEN TAK-TOR came to pick us up for the ride back.
Squelch, squelch, squelch went the TAK-TOR through the mud.
There was a little sprinkling of rain from The Nature but, we didn’t mind as we were already soggy and our new firefighter rubber boots were muddy anyway, and with a belly full of strawberries (at least one of us), we got off the tractor and lined up to pay.
And then, I had my annual, mild heart attack at the price of 8 scant litres of fresh, local strawberries. But, I also remembered about the bucolic, vintage pleasures of the tractor ride and how good the “really red ones” taste and how many were in the belly of a small helper–and no doubt, countless other helpers across the field–and I opened my wallet and handed over the money.
After a stint driving the play structure TAK-TOR at the entrance, we carried our treasures to the car.
Bye, Bye Kitemama and baby Fairy Godsister.
Bye, Bye Fairy Godson.
Bye, Bye, Auntie Kiss.
Squelch, squelch, squelch.
Not the mud, that time.
We’re having enchiladas for supper tonight.
They use up our leftover tortillas, grilled chicken, tomato sauce, veggies and such, so they are fairly regular fare for us. While enchiladas are certainly not fancy, we do eat them in the dining room and pretend we’re grown-ups, tra-la-la.
Tonight though, is no regular supper.
For, if I squint a little, I can see that the glasses are crystal goblets, from the 1920s. Just the kind of heirlooms that are magically filled after each course. I can imagine that our enchiladas are sitting on delicate china and that I am wearing satin gloves that cover my aristocratic elbows. I blink and there is Carson, the butler, standing over by the drinks cabinet.
Of course, Carson is glaring at our choice of food and lack of footmen. In fact, I can already hear his remonstration about how we are not “keeping up Standards” with those “foreign”, tex-mex morsels and laissez-faire attitude towards our cutlery.
Worry not, darling Carson:
At least I have my purse.
If you have ever seen the television show, Downton Abbey, you’ll know that it is terribly important for a lady to dress for–and carry one’s purse–when she goes down for dinner. Never mind that the lady has heard the dressing gong ages ago and is still wearing yoga pants and a hoodie instead of Downton-dinner-appropriate jewels and tiara:
At least she has her purse.
I mean, I do.
And a very Downton-esque specimen it is.
Practical Man (who reminds me a little bit of Carson, sometimes, but more often of Bates) found it at a local thrift shop. Like Bates, Practical Man is full of honour and penitence (and the resignation and shoulders to be able to pull off the requisite suit of that era). Case in point, Practical Man not only spots treasures like this purse among the fray, but actually shows it to me, instead of burying it deeper on the thrift store shelf in the hopes that I will never find it.
He’s the Bates to my Anna, really.
Anyway, this lovely, beaded bag was CDN$6.50 and looks as if it has never graced the dinner of an enchilada eater (no tomato sauce stains) or an aristocrat (no diamonds inside). I’m not sure if it’s truly vintage or merely a reproduction, but I love it all the same.
Sure, I’m still wearing yoga pants and a hoodie.
But, with this flapper-inspired beauty beside me, our enchiladas have never looked so good.
When I was 5 or 6, I decided to run away.
I can’t recall what unspeakable childhood injustice led to the moment when I flounced into my room and started packing my suitcase, but I do remember the dilemma:
how to fit everything in?
The little blue suitcase that I kept my doll’s clothes in wasn’t nearly big enough to hold the non-negotiable running away necessities such as:
- a flashlight to guard against bogey man,
- books and books and books to read while “on the road”,
- clean underpants (in case I was in an accident),
- penny bank (a plaster, brown-and-white pig approximately the size of my entire torso),
- and red-and-white checkered umbrella and raincoat ensemble (one can never be too stylish while running away),
let alone my TREASURES.
Red cowboy hat:
Mickey mouse record player:
and my Elizabeth doll:
I should have known right then and there, that I was never going to be a footloose and fancy-free kind of gal.
Too. Much. Stuff.
My new vintage suitcase evokes a 1974, running away kind of vibe too.
As in, Practical Man wants to run away when he sees the loud pattern.
I think he might have some kind of rare retinal disorder.
I love him anyway.
This suitcase is approximately the same size as my old running away version.
The inside is pristine, as if someone 5 or 6 years old couldn’t quite fit all her treasures in there either. As a result, it probably rested, only occasionally disturbed by a fleeting fancy of running away, until it was returned to under the bed.
I think it wants to be my new briefcase. It is not only (obviously) fabulous looking but eminently useful with both interior and exterior pockets and a handy umbrella slot. I can’t wait to take it out into the world and around the university, full of fun stationery supplies, snacks, a sunhat, music, assorted Sharpie markers, and life’s essentials: books and books and more books.
Some things never change.